David Sedaris

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.

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