David Sedaris Drops Scatological Satire at the Fillmore
As if answering an unspoken vibe, he said that after one of his readings, an offended audience member reprimanded him for such crudeness with I thought you were better than that. His response: Whatever gave you that idea?
He started the night by reading his hilarious essay on language programs from The New Yorker, and we were a little concerned that we'd hear no new material. Yet he followed up the story with explaining how ridiculously thorough New Yorker fact-checking is and how the language software company responded to his work by adding I am a homosexual to their list of common phrases.
Thankfully, the rest of the night was all new material -- at least to our ears. He launched into an essay about the difference between socialized healthcare where he lives in Paris and the American system. When Sedaris discovered something the size and consistency of a deviled egg protruding from his side, his French doctor considered him an alarmist for bringing it to their attention. As an American, he wanted the doctor to call it by a scientific name, deliver the news gravely, and then offer an expensive surgical option.
Sedaris's cleverness and nasal-tinged delivery sells out theaters. But when he simply reads his writing, there is very little difference between his live events and the Sedaris coming out of our radios. And just when we started hoping he'd be more like Rick Perry and go off the script a little, he began a piece titled "I'm Not Running for President."
This satire of passionate conservatism was like red meat for the NPR crowd. It contained hyperbolic gems befitting of the Colbert Report: we should make illegals push our cars to solve both the gas and immigration problem. Or we should give babies the chance to abort their mothers through a thumbs up or thumbs down program during ultrasounds.
In the next piece, Sedaris relayed episodes from his childhood that made it seem like he grew up in the pages of Go the F to Sleep. Instead of good night, his parents sent their kids to slumber with shut up. And after a neighborhood boy shouts profanity at his mother, an 11-year-old Sedaris explains to his brother that bitch means "female dog" and also "a crabby woman who won't let you be yourself."
The Fillmore was way too cavernous a venue for the humorist. Ideally, we'd like to commune with Sedaris in the back corner of a cocktail party, where he'd regale us with tales from his North Carolina childhood and offer witty jabs about the rest of the people in the room. As one of 2,000 in the theater, the closest we came to this was when Sedaris read excerpts from his diary, revealing short outbursts of observational humor.
As an essayist, he admitted that keeping a diary was an absolute must -- as was collecting the names of folks who's random anecdotes might one day make it into his New Yorker pieces. He ended the hour-and-a-half reading by inviting all to a book signing in the lobby, and if there was anyone who was like his friend, and pooped in their hands, please come introduce yourself.
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