STEPPING OUT: Will Durst brings year-end show back to Sonoma County

Five out of six BFYEKOCS comedians say, "Come see our show!" Pictured: (left to right) Mary Magalone, Debi Durst, Johnny Steele, Will Durst and Michael Bossier. Not pictured: Arthur Gaus.


For many folks, 2017 was anything but funny.

But to comedians like Will Durst and the comical crew of The Big Fat Year-End Kiss-Off Comedy Show, the year-that-just-ended was jam-packed with material from which to craft stand-up comedy gold.

“It was lush, like a tropical rainforest,” says Durst, “providing enough grist for the comedic mill to fill six two-hour shows. Although we will do but one, cherry-picking all the best material.”

Technically, he’s doing more than a dozen such shows, as the annual six-comic cavalcade tours the Bay Area, dropping jokes and skits and improvisational sketches designed to let audiences let go of 2017 on a wave of laughter. This year, the Big Fat Year-End Kiss-Off Comedy Show will visit Sonoma County twice, playing Sonoma’s Sebastiani Theater on Thursday, Jan. 4, then playing Healdsburg’s Raven Thea-ter on Saturday, Jan. 6.

“We love playing Sonoma County, and over the years have played Petaluma, Santa Rosa, Sebastopol, Sonoma – all over the place,” he says. “Along the way, we’ve picked up audiences who tend to follow us around from venue to venue, which is nice. Laughter is addictive, so I guess we’ve got a lot of people hooked, and now they just don’t feel like they can shift from one year to the next without a dose of our brand of comedy.”

Durst and company have had a quarter century to prove that theory. Now in its 25th consecutive year, the show has become a kind of free-floating Bay Area institution, shifting it’s cast-of-characters from year to year, but always following the same basic format, blending group bits and skits tackling specific news events from the previous year, with individual sets giving each participant a chance to take the microphone for some stand-up or improvisational tomfoolery.

In addition to Will Durst, this year’s line-up includes Debi Durst, Johnny Steele, Michael Bossier, Mari Magalone and Arthur Gaus.

“Together, we plan to lampoon, satirize, mock, scoff, scorn, taunt, tease, rib and ridicule the people and events of the past year,” Durst explains, adding, “and we will do it with a modicum of taste and decorum. Or maybe not.”

Expected targets of the groups’ mocking and scoffing and dark, he says, will include Kellyanne Conway, Kim Jong Un, global warming, Hollywood box-office bombs, actual bombs, and, of course, the current occupant of the White House.

“Things have been so crazy the last year,” Durst says, “I wouldn’t be surprised if 2018 includes an actual Sharknado hitting us sometime in the next twelve months.”