I fondly remember the first time I experienced the works of humorist-writer-comedian-NPR contributor David Sedaris: I was on the Harrisburg Clocker (for all of you P-Junction commuters, you know what I’m talking about: that Amtrak train we used to be allowed to ride … but that’s another rant for another blog) bound for a magazine publishing sales conference in Hershey, Pennsylvania. My co-worker, Tim, who was no stranger to the pitch-black humor of “The Sedaris,” had brought along his own dog-eared copy of the author’s first book of stories and essays, Barrel Fever, to serve as entertainment for the long ride from Manhattan. After starting off with the third story in the collection, “The Last You’ll Hear From Me,” we spent the next three hours reading aloud from the rest of the book and laughing until our stomach muscles seized up, our cackling voices grew hoarse, and the sound of snorting created a din in the train car so tangible you could have cut it with a butter knife. I would share my favorite excerpt from the book, however, I cannot because I loaned it to someone who has not yet returned it. (Sidebar: You know who you are and if that book isn’t in my hands by the end of the week—spine unbroken and covers uncreased—there will be h-e-double-hockey-sticks to pay.)
But I digress. The love of the former book led to my inhaling of the next, Naked, and then Holidays on Ice (which includes “SantaLand Diaries,” about Sedaris’s time as a Macy’s Christmas elf), and onto Me Talk Pretty One Day (and Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Leather and When You Are Engulfed in Flames, natch). The aforementioned friend stood in line for two hours to have a copy of Me Talk Pretty One Day autographed by the author for my 27th birthday (the inscription inexplicably and fabulously reads “To Jen, On the occasion of her 38th birthday”). I brought the book along on my honeymoon and spent the two days it took me to finish it chuckling into my piña coladas and forcing my then-new husband to listen as I performed “dramatic readings” of the prose every time I happened upon something funny … which was essentially every other line. (My husband eventually caved and read the book on his own and has since become a fan in his own right). One of the best of the impromptu “readings” included the following excerpt from the essay, “You Can’t Kill the Rooster,” a piece about Sedaris’s foul-mouthed younger brother Paul (a.k.a. “The Rooster”).
My father likes to talk about money. It puts my ears to sleep, but still, when he talks, I pretend to listen to him, if only because it seems like the mature thing to do. When my father talks finance to my brother, Paul will cut him off, saying, “F— the stock talk, hoss, I ain’t investing in sh–.” This rarely ends the economics lecture, but my brother wins bonus points for boldly voicing his uninterest, just as my father would do were someone to corner him and talk about Buddhism or the return of the clog. The two of them are unapologetically blunt. It’s a quality my father admires so much, he’s able to ignore the foul language completely. “That Paul,” he says, “now there’s a guy who knows how to communicate.”
So you can imagine how pumped I am that David Sedaris is coming to McCarter Theatre on Tuesday, September 28 at 8 p.m. This will mark his eighth year at the theater (and my fourth time seeing him), and when I tell you it’s an event that is not to be missed, I mean it. I mean it so much that I will tell you when I saw him at McCarter last September, I purchased standing-room-only tickets just so I could listen to him (and this was three months after having my first child, when all I wanted to do was sit and sleep). I won’t spoil anything for you by saying that the author most likely will read from his recently published stories (which I hope will include material from his latest collection, a book of animal fables, entitled Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk: A Modern Bestiary, featuring artwork by Olivia illustrator Ian Falconer), along with works-in-progress, which are raw and therefore choke-on-your tongue funny. He also regularly hits the lobby following his McCarter gigs to sign copies of his books, which are all on sale on site.
If you happen to be a fan like me, then you know the tickets sell out fast. Thus, I implore you to log on to mccarter.org and buy yours today. As in RIGHT NOW. And for those of you who’ve never cracked one of his books, well, we’ll just have to deal with you later, but in the meantime, you need to experience the power and balls-out comedy of David Sedaris live. You’ll thank me, I know you will. McCarter Theatre, 91 University Place, Princeton; 609.258.2787 or mccarter.org.
Jennifer Henderson is the editor of Princeton Scoop online and a freelance writer who has worked for several magazines, including Vanity Fair, Talk, W, and New Jersey Life. She lives in Princeton with her husband, daughter, and chocolate Labrador. She welcomes any inside scoop on what to do and see in the area. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.