Monday, June 08, 2015

David Sedaris

8 June 2015

On Sunday evening we were among a packed audience at the Derngate in Northampton to see the American humourist David Sedaris. I've enjoyed listening to David Sedaris on the radio and reading his books (such as 'Me Talk Pretty One Day' – reviewed here in October 2014) for years, but I had never seen him perform before. The huge popularity of his live performances might seem odd for what is primarily an old-fashioned reading. Sedaris stands behind a large wooden lectern, with only his head and the top of his bow tie visible, and reads a series of essays. His observational pieces are incredibly funny and he is a very good storyteller but he doesn't act them out – this is very much a reading, albeit a very slick one. The structure of the performance feels slightly odd as well, starting with a couple of long essays, followed by a series of random diary entries and finishing with a question & answer session – the content getting progressively briefer as the evening goes on. But however odd it seems, it really works. Sedaris is a quirky but very engaging personality. His ad libs and engagement with the audience are surprisingly good (given how reliant on his script he initially seems). And those audience questions reveal the obsessive following he has developed in the UK (mainly, I suspect from his appearances on BBC Radio 4), probing him on his family and his passions for taxidermy and litter-picking. He is careful to avoid using any material that has previously been broadcast on the BBC, treating us to new writing and work in progress. At times, David Sedaris gets close to being a stand-up comedian, with impressive improvisation and highly polished comic timing. But, as I am sure he would self-deprecatingly insist, he is a writer rather than a comedian. He is certainly one of a kind and it was great evening in the theatre.

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

<< Home