David Sedaris

David Sedaris David Sedaris


Last night I attended An Evening with David Sedaris at the McCallum Theatre. If you listen regularly to NPR's This American Life you would surely recognize his voice. How to characterize it? Deadpan, almost monotone; slightly nasal; slightly raspy as smokers' voices tend to be.

David Sedaris

A special program insert proclaimed that Sedaris would be "live for one night only" so I presume this was his final performance, dropping dead at the stroke of midnight, of lung cancer no doubt. I'll have to look out for the obituary.

It was a rather unique evening. Sedaris came on stage, stood spotlighted behind a podium before a full house (around 1100), and read to us for most of 90 minutes. Sedaris is one funny guy, and he kept the audience chuckling and laughing out loud the whole time. His humor comes in the form of stories, not jokes, and often involves stringing you along for a while in what seems like a perfectly normal sentence, then taking a quirky leap into left field. This would be the perfect place to quote something from last night as an example, but I have absolutely no ability to remember humorous stories. I laugh enthusiastically at the time, but five minutes later I can't remember a thing.

I can say that one of his uproariously funny stories was about his experiences with a coroner, introduced as a scary story for Halloween. Another was about the consequences of using "d'accord" (French for ‘I agree’) to cover up for not fully understanding what was being said, a story published in The New Yorker as In the Waiting Room. (My father, deaf as a rock at the end, used to do the same thing to string a conversation along: "Oh." "Is that right?" "You don't say!" Never had a clue what the subject was.)

Keep an ear open for Sedaris — he'll make you laugh. Oh, never mind, he was only live one night, he must be dead now.