I’m certain that David Sedaris doesn’t need any introduction as a master of satire and one of the most important writers addressing the social condition today. He has over 9 million books in print, published in 25 languages, and has three grammy award nominations. So having David “Live for your listening pleasure” (pardon the pun) was a real treat.
David’s stage presence and delivery is as colourful and hilarious as his writing. It’s impossible to capture the atmosphere; think oodles of satire and non PC observances, a packed hall full of wet-eyed audience members holding their stomachs and huge rounds of applause. The audience were treated to:
‘The Cat and the Baboon’ – a satire on relationships with a baboon groomer trying hard to establish a relationship with a cat client to secure a tip. (“The baboon nodded and smiled, the way one has to in the service industry…”) This story was from the short story collection ‘Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk’ – “At first I was calling it fables but they have morals and I don’t always have them.” A fan of audiobooks, it was a badly written and executed folklore audiobook that inspired David to start this project.
‘Standing By’ – a story published in the New Yorker about flying (“You don’t ever want to hear the phrase Pray from a flight attendant.” On a beaded corn-row hairstyle on a young white male resembling a Dr Seuss character; “Stevie Wonder wore his hair like that in the 1980s but he’s black…and blind. Also, Stevie Wonder didn’t have acne…” Believe me – the delivery was brilliant!)
A story written for radio show, This American Life, on the theme of Innocence Abroad- “I wrote this story about an aspect of living in another country which didn’t make it onto the show. It’s a story that doesn’t really work on paper…what I’m saying is they were stupid not to take it.” (The story looked at pronunciation of words while living in foreign countries – you think that wouldn’t be funny? It is when David adopts the idea).
A language essay due to be in the New Yorker in a few weeks – discussing the limitations of learning new languages; the rote memory approach and limited topics which stunts your conversations. (“I can count to 999 in Japanese and when I buy something and I’m given change, I can say – You are now giving me change.” On learning Mandarin through a phrasebook “The one title romance included the following… Would you like a drink? You’re a fantastic dancer. You look like a cousin of mine. I like you very much, you’re great. Do you want a massage? How about going to bed? And… Don’t worry, I’ll do it myself. Oddly, they didn’t include leave the light on – a must if you want to say any of these things.”)
Speaking to the audience afterwards while they were waiting to get their books signed, I got these responses:
“This is the funniest thing I’ve heard in ages. I’m going to have to read his books again.”
“I thought his books were funny, but in person, he’s gas.”
“I’m so glad I came; I haven’t laughed so much in ages. My son said I’d be too old for the humour – it might be too rude – but what does he know? He’s the prude!”
“This was the best festival event I’ve been to – fair play to Listowel for getting him here. I don’t know how they do it.”
Me either, but whatever their secret ingredient is; it’s working.