New York Times Bestseller David Sedaris shared his new works and personal reflections at the Community Theatre at Mayo Center for the Performing Arts in Morristown, on Oct. 4. Reading from his new book, which will be released in June 2008, and his own personal travel diary, the audience was kept in stitches. Sedaris, himself, even joined in the laughter at times.
The night started off at 8 p.m., and the crowd packed the theatre from top to bottom. A spotlight shone on Sedaris as he stood with a blue pin-striped shirt folded up to the elbows, a maroon tie neatly set in place, tan pants, and brown shoes that seemed worn in. With only a pile of a few, seemingly unorganized papers, Sedaris began to read from his new work, which still has a tentative title. As Sedaris explained that he has in mind the title, “An Indefinite Leave to Remain,” the audience grew silent. Sedaris replied, “Yeah, that’s what my editor told me.” The crowd burst into laughter. He went on to reveal that he never read this section of the book before to a live audience and wanted to, in a way, test it out and see what the reaction would be.
Sedaris revealed intimate sides of his personality and personal life in his reading. His written stories are packed with true life events, from his childhood shenanigans with his family, to quirky tales of living in France and New York City with his partner Hugh.
Sedaris told the audience about his art teacher, who would pronounce certain Spanish words with a fake American imitation of Latino speech. Sedaris mimicked his teacher’s pronunciation by saying such words as “Nicaragua” (sounding like “Nija- raa-huaa”). The audience joined in with harmonious, barking, hand-clapping laughter. They were clearly amused by the image of a young Sedaris annoying his teacher by forcing him to say
“Nijarahua” over and over.
Sedaris took time to share his personal diary with the audience. He shared witty thoughts of traveling, with his partner Hugh, to such places as Tokyo and different regions of the United States. He also shared a small excerpt of one of his favorite series, “The Onion,” which he received as a gift from a friend. In this particular edition, the book gave comical descriptions of different destinations in the world. His choice of sharing the “Brazil” section had even Sedaris cracking up in laughter, joining in with the audience members around him who were already breathless and holding their stomachs. Backing up from the podium, red faced and out of breath, Sedaris had to pause and take a sip of water. He seemed almost childlike, innocently laughing at profane and satirical jokes.
Sedaris also promoted Richard Yate’s book, “The Easter Parade.” He described it as “depressing…but deliciously depressing.” Sedaris told the audience that all of his favorite writers do not necessarily write like he does, or talk about the same topics as he does. In fact, he said, “They would probably hate me if they were alive.”
After reading, Sedaris opened the floor to questions from the audience. He was asked about everything ranging from whether he would write more serious, not comical, works to what his partner Hugh would say about living with Sedaris. The audience learned Sedaris’ most intimate side when he confessed, “I do nothing,” when talking about his home life. Sedaris said his partner does all the repair and hard work at home, while he makes bee shaped figures out of foil to waste time. Sedaris also said that he would probably not write any serious pieces. Recalling an instance in his life where someone
told him to write about what he cares most, he stated that he simply thought to himself, “Me.”
Sedaris left the stage with an immense round of applause from the audience. Holding his mess of papers, he stopped midway and bowed.
After the reading, fans lined up to get Sedaris to sign their books – or stack of books. Books on sale included his past hits, such as “Naked,” alongside the promoted “The Easter Parade.”
The line of fans snaked down three flights of stairs and almost out the door of the theatre. Some people waited around for three hours just to get a few minutes with the recognized author. Sedaris took his time with each fan, giving advice on writing, or just chatting about what the person was going to do after leaving the theatre.
When told that he was going to be featured in an article, Sedaris simply said, with an innocent and almost pleading face, “Be kind.” A toothy grin followed. “I usually don’t like to read what they write about me,” he said. “But if it’s good, I’ll take my time out when I’m on tour to read it.”
Fans left the theatre recalling specific parts of Sedaris’ reading and comparing autographs that included such unique remarks as, “…with a Nicaraguan feeling, David Sedaris.”
Published in the October 17, 2007 issue of The Metro.