An afternoon with David Sedaris

One day I was going through my emails, deleting a whole bunch, when I came upon a pop up in something from the Opera House.

OMG. David Sedaris is coming to town.

The conversation went:

Me: “have you heard of david sedaris? he’ll be speaking at the opera house in January. dates aren’t the best – but would you be interested?”
Her: “I’ve heard of him but am not sure why! Is he a comedian or a writer for a comedy show?”
Me: “more a commentator on society with a slight dry comedian bent. not really a writer for a comedy show I don’t think. Has published about 10 books, articles in newspapers etc. “

So on the strength of that conversation, we booked our tickets almost a year prior to the event.

It was a packed house, and we had gone to the second show. I think David Sedaris was introduced by triple j dj/comedian Sam Simmons who came out to ask us for no photos, do not look at your phone, do not make a call, do not bid for something really important on ebay, no rustling, no eating, no animals.

So once I found my pen, I had to write on my leg so that I wouldn’t commit the crime of rustling.

Then David Sedaris came out on stage to rapturous applause.

David Sedaris

Well. I wasn’t allowed to take a photo, so I took one of my ticket. #ephemeral

He read three recent articles/essays that he had written, at least one of them was after the current manuscript had been submitted to his publisher.

English Lessons
Starting with learning Japanese using the Pimsleur method, and a comment about how the second or third lesson you learn the phrase: “Oh your Japanese is so good!”.

This diverged into musings about the Pimsleur English lessons, whether they would be based on UK English or American English. Then – would they include the different varieties of “upselling” that occurs in shops, essentially the localised variant of “Would you like fries with that?”.

I cannot remember the name of this piece. Ever since his father had had a colonoscopy, he had been going on and on about how David should have one. Finally after years of refusing to talk about the subject he did, and it was wonderful. Mainly because the anesthetic used was Propofol, and he floated out on a pink bubble of happiness, after having discharged his farts (a result of the colon being filled with air) in the post-procedure farting room.

The Company Man
Not about being a “Man of THE Company”, but rather about how, now that he is middle aged, he has managed to acquire not one but two guest rooms.

Diary Entries
These were all titled with the date, and the town/city in which the diary entry was made. They were not in sequential order. Rather, we started with January 2014, and then wandered around the calender to November 2013, August 2013, May 2013, sometime in 2012, 2011, then back to 2013. Hilarious. The anecdote that I do remember related to finding an t-shirt in a store in Japan. It had a picture of a bear, a river, and a bright yellow swastika. When queried about the picture, the sales assistant said: “The bear has caught a salmon in it’s mouth”.

He was making notes and annotations to his papers as he read them aloud. This suggests to me that they may not have been published (although looking at the New Yorker: the Company Man at least has been published). It also indicates why there was a special request for no pictures, blogging, or distractions during the readings. This is unlike other events of this nature at the Opera House – where they positively encourage you to be online whilst listening.

There was a little bit of time at the end for questions. Someone asked when his next colonoscopy would be. Isn’t that a little personal? Another asked about his views on social media. Response – it’s not me. I’m old.

Books that he indicated he enjoyed recently include:
An Obedient Father, Akhil-Sharma
Alice Munro
and then what sounded like The New Yorker tick of approval – write here, David will read your book and laugh out loud.

If you have the chance, I would highly recommend seeing him in person. His essays can be long, and subject to your own interpretation. Once you hear him read the piece, along with the pauses and emphasis in certain locations, it adds a whole new level of Aaaahhh-understanding.

There appear to be a few more dates left in the current Australian/NZ tour, up to 26 January 2014 in Auckland.


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