He’s an unassuming fellow, the kind of man you could pass on the street and not take notice of. Perhaps he greets you with his voice, which comes across as reedy yet deliberate. There is a distinction beyond that high vocal pitch, a modesty that you could easily discern. Maybe you smile and continue on your way, none the wiser to the personality you just walked away from. But what a mistake that would be. This man may appear as a run-of-mill (or even meek) kind of guy, but he is one of America’s best humorists. He is a satirist with a talent for prose and gifted with razor-sharp sardonic wit that cements him as one of the funniest men in America. He’s David Sedaris, and he’s returning to Austin as part of The Paramount Season Series.
The most treasured assets for any writer is an observant eye and a clear voice honed to illustrate that to be shared. Some may write in much the same fashion as an artist tackles a blank canvas, developing their work in broad, bold strokes. Humor, however, is often found in the particulars. Sedaris is capable of painting with the small strokes of a comedian. But what makes him so great is that he can use these niceties of life to capture our attention, and then transform them into a mirror for our modern society to gaze into. For David, the devil is in the details.
A bestselling author of story collections and essays, Sedaris is also a staple on the radio waves, particularly This American Lif
e. In fact, it was Life
‘s host Ira Glass who discovered David reading his diary and gave him his first shot on the air. The real breakthrough came in 1992, when Sedaris appeared on National Public Radio and read “SantaLand Diaries
,” a true story of David’s time working at a Macy’s department store as one of Santa’s elves. His essays have been published in Esquire
and The New Yorker
magazines. Since then, his collections of autobiographical musings and sardonic lamentations have garnered widespread acclaim and a fanbase of many loyal readers and listeners. He was even named Time
magazine’s “Humorist of the Year” for 2001. Of course, I have a feeling David may find that distinction dubious at best, since Time
magazine ranks below the 6th grade reading level on the Flesch-Kincaid
scale. But dont let that scare you off. Sedaris is very much the genuine article, and will never be found in the library next to any Stephanie Meyer book.
His work is usually self-effacing and personal, yet universal in its appeal. David’s tongue-in-cheek style also accommodates a sharp wit, which he uses to skewer his subject matter and serve up like a kabob. While his manner is often mocking, it never loses its accessibility; always remaining natural in its delivery. Not content to merely shake things up, he often slices society’s conventions like a knife through butter. His brilliance, tempered with his cool-as-a-cucumber attitude, make David Sedaris the most insightful and gifted satirist since Jonathan Swift. Whether you read his collections or listen to him, the laughs from his biting humor is infectious.
I know I could go on and on, but I don’t want to bore you with my appeal for smart humor. It’s just refreshing to find laughs that aren’t boorish or dependent on potty humor. Often it is too easy solicit laughs with fart jokes and bodily functions, and those laughs always feel tiresome and cheap. Luckily we have humorists like David to stay clear of the scatological chuckles, no?
Well… I stand corrected. Stadium Pal. Just. Wow. I’m speechless. Urine jokes or no, that was brilliant.
The following is also a favorite of mine. Particularly apropos of the current season. Happy Easter, everyone!http://www.youtube-nocookie.com/v/N5apZmwR9UI?fs=1&hl=en_US
A fine line exists between the ludicrous and the funny, but David balances both like a Chinese acrobat. There’s nothing run-of-the-mill about being able to do that. It’s not easy to point out the absurdities in times like this, and American culture can often be as gaudy and lurid as the Merry Ol’ Land of Oz. I, for one, am grateful for David Sedaris for pointing out all the wonderful nuances that make life silly and wonderful. But more importantly, for keeping us laughing as the wizard is revealed from behind the curtain.
David Sedaris will be performing at The Long Center
(as part of The Paramount Season Series) on Monday, April 25th at 8:00 p.m