REVIEW / KODY FORD
Oral storytelling has been a tradition since the dawn of man. However, as we become increasingly plugged in to tweets, stories and posts, those days seem increasingly quaint. Sure, stand-up comedians can still pack the house, but a writer? That’s not always as easy. David Sedaris is one major exception.
Sedaris certainly seems like a stand-up at times. His wit is undeniable and has hooked readers since the early days when he rose to fame with “The SantaLand Diaries” on NPR. However, Sedaris, like any talented storyteller, can take the listener and or reader through a wellspring of emotion. During his reading at Walton Arts Center in Fayetteville, he opened on a somber note with “Father Time,” an essay recently featured in The New Yorker about his father’s ailing health and Sedaris’ hope that the family patriarch lives long enough “to see Trump impeached.” (The latter added with a grin.)
Family has often been at the core of Sedaris’ work. His family, including his famous sister, actor Amy Sedaris (Kids in the Hall, Bojack Horseman), serve as central characters in his stories. During his reading, Sedaris read a short piece about an afternoon spent with Amy when she was temporarily missing two teeth and wearing a designer dress that “made her look like a hostess at the Cracker Barrel.” They visited Barney’s together, apparently, a long tradition for the two. Sedaris also read a piece about his partner, Hugh’s visiting nephews at their home, The Sea Section, which he discussed extensively in his recent book, Calypso.
Sedaris ended the show by reading diary entries. His diary is what first lead him to the attention Ira Glass and eventually catapulted him to stardom. These entries are brief, insightful, witty, and occasionally profane. Sedaris isn’t against making the listener squirm. Sedaris was my very first show at the WAC, way back in 2005. I remember looking around and seeing unknowing season ticket holders sitting next to their young children, smiling, completely unaware of what was coming. I subsequently remember those people leaving within the first twenty minutes of the show. Now, fourteen years later, Sedaris proves he can still offend, enlighten and enrapture. He’s always worth the price of admission.