David Sedaris on tour
October 9, 2002 7:09 AM   Subscribe

David Sedaris on tour Go see him in your town! Anybody see David Sedaris on Letterman last night? He read a new piece about a portable colostomy bag. Mr. Sedaris is a regular contributor to This American Life on NPR. If you haven't read or heard David Sedaris, you are really missing out.
posted by puddsharp (38 comments total)
His sister Amy isn't half bad either...
posted by wfrgms at 7:41 AM on October 9, 2002

... so you like David Sedaris, I’d guess...
posted by jpburns at 7:43 AM on October 9, 2002

I'm going to his Atlanta show.... looking forward to it, since I missed him last time around.
posted by spilon at 7:45 AM on October 9, 2002

portable colostomy bag? didn't george carlin do this first?
posted by oog at 8:24 AM on October 9, 2002

Your mileage may vary. I heard so much about Sedaris from people whose judgment I trust that I couldn't wait to read him and share the joy. When I did, I was... underwhelmed. The elf story is funny, but most of the rest didn't do much for me. Let's just say he's no Woody Allen (and by that I am referring not to the sad, tired, self-parodying filmmaker but to the brilliant youngish author of pieces like "The Kugelmass Episode").
posted by languagehat at 8:32 AM on October 9, 2002

sadly the Boston show is sold out, and it cost a fortune anyway b/c it's a benefit for one of the local NPR stations, and I don't donate anymore after discovering certain talk show hosts and producers there are paid upwards of $100K. aaaanyway, my personal fave Sedaris moment is the "He nice, the Jesus" explanation of Easter in French class. And the hillbilly dildo collector who lives with his mother. And Santaland. Tee hee hee.
posted by serafinapekkala at 8:34 AM on October 9, 2002

If you haven't read or heard David Sedaris, you are really missing out.

Skip his tired song and dance routine and support your local authors. Ten bucks says you've got plenty that are better than him.

I have almost the exact experience of languagehat: out of nowhere, people were commanding me to read (or listen to) Sedaris. And my only impression of him is that he's an irritating, neurotic gay man milking that persona for all it's worth.

Well, it's worth nothing to me.
posted by rocketman at 8:59 AM on October 9, 2002

Just as a counterweight to the experiences of languagehat and rocketman... I've read and listened to Sedaris, and have been generally unable to stop from laughing out loud each time. True, he's no (early) Woody Allen in terms of laffs-per-minute... but then, who is? If anyone knows of an author, local or otherwise, who can generate that level of mirth, please post here.
posted by soyjoy at 9:11 AM on October 9, 2002 [1 favorite]

rocketman - I couldn't agree less - funniest author I've ever read. Just goes to show, there's no accounting for taste. Still, if you haven't read his work, don't take my word for it, nor rocketmans's, there's plenty of it online for free, at Esquire's archive - I personally recommend "You can't kill the Rooster".
posted by jonson at 9:12 AM on October 9, 2002

He laid an egg on Letterman with his nazi joke. Big big bomb and you could see Dave squirming half off camera.
But then he pulled it off with his new piece about colostomy bags, which is as good as any of his best material.

I miss Strangers With Candy
posted by BentPenguin at 9:17 AM on October 9, 2002

sadly the Boston show is sold out, and it cost a fortune anyway b/c it's a benefit for one of the local NPR stations,

I just bought tickets online about 5 minutes ago (about 15 rows back) and while I wouldn't call them cheap, $35 (the most expensive option, btw) is hardly a "fortune". The issue of not donating to an organization for paying competitive salaries I'll save for another day.
posted by jalexei at 9:26 AM on October 9, 2002

I'm a huge Sedaris fan, but I'm not surprised at the polarity of the responses here. Everyone I've introduced to his work either ends up loving him, or goes "eh."

Languagehat, he is no early-Woody-Allen quality, to be sure. But I don't think he's going for that. Jon Stewart captures the Allen quality in his essay collection, though. I think you'd enjoy it, if you haven't read it already.
posted by boomchicka at 9:27 AM on October 9, 2002

Me Talk Pretty One Day left me sort of shrugging my shoulders until I got to the chapters about living in Europe and learning french, at which point I literally could not stop laughing for like a half hour.

I agree that he's not the comic genius he's been occasionally held up as, but he tells a funny story for sure.
posted by Hildago at 9:32 AM on October 9, 2002

I, too, miss Strangers and often wonder what Mr. Jellineck & Principal Blackman are up to. But take heart, Amy Sedaris is returning to television this time in a vehicle costarring Mark McKinney.

David ain't too bad, either. I'm partial to his Youth In Asia myself.
posted by herc at 9:32 AM on October 9, 2002

Rocketman: For what it's worth, I find Sedaris to be somewhat hit-and-miss. Some of the stories in his books are pretty boring and the ones that aren't seem to be a lot funnier on the radio than on paper. Before you give up completely on him, however, I think you should at least check out the colostomy bag story which is available at the This American Life Website at the end of the May 31, 2002 This american Life, titled "Family Physics" (about 53 minutes in).
posted by originalname37 at 9:38 AM on October 9, 2002

I'll have to side with those who tried Sedaris out after just about every other intelligent person I know told me that he was the funniest thing since sliced bread.

Completely bored and underwhelmed.

I put my copy of Me Talk Pretty One Day down on the communal bookshelf in my apartment building.

It makes me feel good that it still sits there, more than a year later, surrounded by crappy romance novels I would probably prefer to read before reading Me Talk Pretty One Day again.
posted by obfusciatrist at 9:39 AM on October 9, 2002

an author, local or otherwise, who can generate that level of mirth, please post here

For starters (this is Madison-area), Ron Kuka. The man doesn't appear much (in fact, I don't think he's published anything in years), but he's a riot in person.

Ron Wallace, another local Madison writer, is pretty darn good, though he's more "humor" than bellyrolls.

Lorrie Moore is funny in a very uncomfortable way. I laughed hysterically throughout "People Like That Are the Only People Here". I also cried through the whole thing.

And originalname37: Thanks for the pointers.
posted by rocketman at 9:42 AM on October 9, 2002

Most artists you either love'm or you hate'm. With David Sedaris, you either love him to pieces or think he's moderately okay but nothing to write home about and there's others who are better, and I think that's pretty damn good, considering.

As for This American Life, I can never tell if Ira Glass uses Sedaris' stage recordings as filler or if the piece was the inspiration for the entire hour and the show is built around Sedaris. Sometimes it seems like the answer to that question is 'yes' which makes it even more intriguing, but then I'm often more interested in how shows like This American Life get made than I am in the show itself.
posted by ZachsMind at 10:00 AM on October 9, 2002

I'm going to see David Sedaris at the bay area show next week. I've never laughed so much as when I heard him read the story about learning French in Paris.

Lorrie Moore is wonderful. "People Like That are the Only People Here" is my favorite short story. Also, made me laugh and cry at the same time.
posted by birgitte at 10:00 AM on October 9, 2002

I saw David Sedaris and Sarah Vowell earlier this year just north of San Diego. Great show. My only disappointment was that it didn't go longer.
posted by stevefromsparks at 10:04 AM on October 9, 2002

The problem is that many have read "me talk pretty one day" which is kind of weak. "Naked" is much, much better in my opinion and actually hilarious.
posted by cell divide at 10:05 AM on October 9, 2002

Great links here to Sedaris material. I think he's hysterically funny. I bought Me Talk Pretty One Day and read it cover to cover in one sitting, laughing out loud on an airplane.

But luckily, everyone's idea of humor is different. Heck, some people think Jackie Chan is funny/entertaining. I find him boring and not the least bit interesting. Viva la difference!
posted by Red58 at 10:09 AM on October 9, 2002

Another artist that fans either love to pieces or just disregard flippantly but rarely ever hate with any kind of passion is Laurie Anderson. And she's on tour too. Although she doesn't make fun of speaking french, I think she does speak french. Actually that's about where the similarity between David and Laurie ends, but I'm more excited about Laurie coming to town than David. That's just me.

Oh. And Sarah Vowell's hot.
posted by ZachsMind at 10:09 AM on October 9, 2002

rocketman - thanks for the refs. Do you happen to have links to any of these people's stuff? I came up dry on Ron Kuka other than bio info, and there seem to be a lot of Ron Wallaces who have the word Madison associated with them in one way or another. The stuff I've read of Lorrie Moore's is OK, but again, we're looking for that early-Woody-Allen level here.

On preview, yes, cell divide, I think "Naked" is more uniformly funny than "Me Talk Pretty." But that stuff about the Easter bell - man, I was on the floor.
posted by soyjoy at 10:09 AM on October 9, 2002

I beg to differ about how great Sedaris is in person. He made me ill. Here's the account:

posted by scarabic at 10:19 AM on October 9, 2002

scarabic - I suppose we could start arguing about the issue of whether taking $50 to sing like Billie Holiday is appropriate, but even you said he was funny and you had a great time despite that "tick-sickness." An interesting anecdote, but not one that undermines the notion that this is one funny guy.
posted by soyjoy at 10:28 AM on October 9, 2002

Oh. And Sarah Vowell's hot.

Not to turn this into a boyzone, but from my Sedaris experience, I prefer Vowell, plus I concur with Zachsmind.
posted by drezdn at 10:42 AM on October 9, 2002

Do you happen to have links to any of these people's stuff?

soyjoy - sorry. kind of the point of my post was that they're Madison-area, and if you're not from around here, you're not likely to find them.

Lorrie, of course, excluded. Seeing as how she's famous and all.
posted by rocketman at 12:47 PM on October 9, 2002

Wow, am I surprised how many people have commented they don't care for him. I had no idea. As for the partner and myself, we have only to say "two morsels of lumber" to burst out laughing.

He was just here in Raleigh, his previous home town (before moving to New York) and we didn't go to see him because the Partner works nights. I heard we missed a hysterically funny show.

It looks like he won't be back this way on tour-- I guess he only has bad memories of Raleigh, though his brother still runs his wood flooring business here.

If you do like Sidaris, you might want to try Running With Scissors by Augusten Burroughs.

Really? You guys didn't like the part about his father eating his hat because he thought it was some rotted piece of food? Huh.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 3:04 PM on October 9, 2002

i cought him on letterman, which i usually don't watch, and thought his essay was funny...but i thought it was about "the stadium pal", which collects urine....not a colostomy bag.....am i missing something.
i also was curious about his mouth tic...a bit annoying, but soon forgotten as i got into the story.
his elf at macy's is a christmas must hear.
posted by billybobtoo at 3:38 PM on October 9, 2002

Santaland Diaries (about 4' 40" in).

I too think Sedaris is hit or miss, but this is definitely a hit.
posted by Wet Spot at 4:47 PM on October 9, 2002

soyjoy - it's true

It wasn't a horrible experience, but I have not thought about David Sedaris once since that day, and I've lost all interest in what he does. You know how sometimes you go to see a band you like, and you're shocked to find that they're assholes on stage? This doesn't mean that you don't enjoy the show, but you never think about the music the same way again.

Still, you make a good point. Memory has blackened the event, but I was surprised to find how positively I wrote of it at the time.
posted by scarabic at 4:54 PM on October 9, 2002

Just bought tickets for Boston this Friday - thanks for the heads up, puddsharp. I also got turned on to Sedaris from This American Life, which has been recommended in many Metafilter posts/comments.
posted by Mapes at 5:07 PM on October 9, 2002

Love Sedaris; heard him and Vowell perform here in DC and thought they were both really funny and that much of their work also had a greater emotional depth to it than they often get credit for. Whenever I have dinner with the friends who saw him with me at some point we usually wind up talking about the urine bag or the "six to eight black men?" story, about Christmas traditions across countries.

I thought it was interesting how Letterman just had him get up there and read from a podium, like he does on his book tours. You don't really ever see this on talk shows; either someone gets up and does a memorized stand-up routine solo, or sits there with the host and plugs their movie or book. I liked it.

Oh, and Ira Glass is hot.
posted by onlyconnect at 5:23 PM on October 9, 2002

I got a bit tired of his essays after a while and prefer his fiction. The stories in "Barrel Fever" are wild & freewheelin' fun.
posted by muckster at 8:20 PM on October 9, 2002

secret life of gravy, you're from raleigh, too! shout out.
posted by oog at 9:32 PM on October 9, 2002

OnlyConnect: "I thought it was interesting how Letterman just had him get up there and read from a podium, like he does on his book tours..."

Though he normally pokes fun about how he's at the Ed Sullivan theater, I think secretly Letterman sees himself as a sort of bastardized heir to Sullivan's position in America's consciousness. He likes allowing artists to present themselves in the light they see as best. I recall a music group some time back whose guitarist ended their set by throwing his instrument at the drummer. Letterman just turned it into a joke and brushed it off. Admittedly, that nameless band will never be seen on Letterman again, but he does let artists be what they're gonna be. Whether they're a wannabe punk band or a woman brushing garden equiptment across her tummy... But I digress. =)
posted by ZachsMind at 9:56 PM on October 9, 2002

Johnny Carson's bastardized heir, too, and I agree with him on that!
posted by onlyconnect at 10:52 PM on October 9, 2002

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