This past weekend, I finally realized one of my big dreams—seeing David Sedaris live. Since the first time I read one of his stories, I’ve been completely in love with his writing, how effortlessly he turns the mundane into something hilarious. A former Raleigh resident myself, I adore his references to the city, which almost make me feel like I’m in on the joke since I know all about places such as Dorothea Dix hospital and North Hills Mall.
It was that feeling of being in the know that permeated crowd inside the impressive new Durham Performing Arts Center. As the lights went down, a man walked into the spotlight and stood behind the podium. He leaned into the mic and said, “I’m David Sedaris. No, I’m just kidding, I’m his brother Paul. David’s in the bathroom and he’s got the shits!” If you’ve read “The Rooster” from Me Talk Pretty One Day, then you know this is standard Paul Sedaris. And were we all thrilled! An actual “character” from his stories, right here in the flesh!
The show consisted of several readings, a short Q&A session and a few minutes of gushing (I’ll get to that in a moment). The readings included a recent piece from The New Yorker, a piece written for This American Life that never actually made it to the airwaves, and some selections from his “diary.” Just as I anticipated, I howled with laughter pretty much the entire time. Even my boyfriend, who was relatively unfamiliar with Sedaris’ work, guffawed next to me.
Just before the brief Q&A, Sedaris took a few minutes to gush about one of his favorite authors, Alan Bennett. He even went so far as to play a piece of a monologue from one of Bennett’s audiobooks. Listening to Sedaris describe his love for Bennett’s work (saying he just wanted to own everything with his name on it) was so touching to me because I feel the same way about his work. It’s a strange and magical thing to hear your hero describe his hero in the same way you describe him.
Needless to say, I loved every moment of the performance. I was pleasantly surprised to hear him read new or unfamiliar works (rather than just reading stuff from his latest book), and I enjoyed his banter with the crowd, and his graciousness in answering questions. Should he come to your area, I highly recommend getting tickets.