“I haven’t got the slightest idea how to change people, but still I keep a long list of prospective candidates just in case I should ever figure it out.”
Before he became a contributor at The New Yorker or a best-selling author, I discovered David Sedaris where so many of his other fans have, on National Public Radio, and through Ira Glass’s spectacular radio program and podcast, This American Life (you can find many of his past contributions here). From there, I went on to read his essays, all of his books and attended live readings (read: performances — because, undoubtedly, that’s what they are) on what are now three separate occasions.
I’ve gifted Sedaris’s books on at least five separate occasions over the years, and have always, without fail, received glowing responses from those who have received them. On that note, I have also gifted one my absolute favorite books, Shalom Auslander’s Foreskin’s Lament, just as many or more times than that. And coincidentally, he, too, was a discovery I made through This American Life, a testament to the program’s incredible quality.
Sedaris is compared to innumerable authors, most often Fran Leibowitz and Mark Twain. I agree, wholeheartedly, with the Twain comparison, but am hesitant to throw Leibowitz into the mix. Make no mistake, she’s a brilliant humorist, but I find her darker, edgier and much more caustic than Sedaris.
“Reader, suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.”
For my part, I’d categorize Sedaris as a fairly even mix between Mark Twain and Gore Vidal: quick witted, keenly observant, and always wickedly funny. He’s one of the few celebrities I find myself imagining would be fun to hang out with. Maybe over a coffee. More likely a beer.
“The four most beautiful words in our common language: I told you so.”
I don’t just recommend his books, though. His readings are incredibly entertaining as well. Most recently I caught his performance at Town Hall, and he was even better than the other times I’ve seen him. His composure, delivery, timing and mastery of language — all of it was on full display. He usually offers a few new and longer stories he’s been working on — so new, in fact, that he occasionally pauses briefly to make a notation in his draft as he reads. And of course, Sedaris always makes time for reading a few entries from his ever-more-fascinating diary.
I should also note that Sedaris is a particularly gracious and accessible celebrity, spending hours before and after his events to personally interact with his fans and sign copies of his books. If the opportunity presents itself, I highly recommend going to see him live.
For information about his books and tour dates, click here.
Pair it with:
A burger at Bar Sardine
So usually, if at all possible, I attempt to pair a meal or snack in fairly close proximity to the activity. Unfortunately, Town Hall is in Midtown. It’s an area, by and large, I loathe in general — but particularly so as it relates to food. Therefore, with no better options presenting themselves, I venture downtown to the West Village neighborhood gastropub, Bar Sardine. I’d read an article awhile back espousing the merits of their Fedora Burger, so I decided this was the time to test it out.
Though the small space was nearly packed to the gills, my burger arrived at my seat at the bar quite efficiently. A quick check under the hood of the mildly sweet, seeded bun revealed smoked cheddar, a sizable and juicy beef patty, house flash-pickled cucumbers, shoestring potatoes, and chipotle mayo. It was delicious. The anti-burger-purist’s dream. I’ll definitely be revisiting.
183 W 10th St
Sunday – Wednesday Noon – Midnight
Thursday – Saturday Noon – 2 am