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Show type: Edinburgh Fringe 2011
An Evening With David Sedaris
With sardonic wit and incisive social critiques Sedaris has become one of Americaís pre-eminent humour writers. The skill with which he slices through cultural euphemisms and political correctness prove he is a master of satire.
An Evening With David Sedaris
Somehow you expect the Fringe to be, well, a little bit more rock and roll than this. Iíve come to an air-conditioned conference centre to hear a reedy, mild-mannered American author in his mid-fifties perform a book reading.
David Sedaris certainly isnít a stand-up; Ďhumoristí is the best term. In fact, imagine what you think a humorist might be like, and youíll pretty much have him pictured in your mind.
Without fanfare he introduces himself and the initial story, from his first book of fictional yarns. It concerns a cat receiving beauty treatment from a baboon Ė†a word he gets to savour. This anthropomorphic yarn, with the tip-seeking monkey trying to worm his way into her clientís good books by trying to say the right thing seemed too light and cutesy for my taste, even though the metaphors are clear.
But as Sedaris moved on to more personal and more opinionated matters, it began to emerge why this erudite 54-year-old has built up such a loyal audience for appearances such as this five-night Edinburgh run. Itís not just the seven million books heís sold to date, he has a skilful and underplayed way of drawing the humour from them when he reads to an audience.
His second piece was of a recently-penned newspaper column, as if from a Tea Party Republican explaining that he wasnít going to join the race for president, as God personally told him no to, even though He was fully in support of the governorís policies. In this, Sedaris got his liberal points across with great subtlety and smart wit Ė and the line about abortion is a corker. For all his mildness, heís not shy of the controversial.
Another story, about his youthful relationship, of sorts, with a large, poor, ethnic woman gives a similarly astute social commentary Ė a version of Pulpís Common People in reverse, where he samples another life, but only really as a tourist. And talking of tourism, his essay on why we pronounce some words in their native accent, and some not, is equally insightful, suggesting ordering Mexican food would be different Ďif the Burritos Grandes was a mountain range where oppressed people toilí.
That sort of dry humour, told with his meek humility, runs through the night. Even when heís mocking Scottish tourism at the end, itís with apparent affection, which the locals lap up. But the best section are the extracts from his diary, perhaps an authorís equivalent to one-liners, in which pithy observations fight for space with hand-me-down gags in a concentrated package of wit.
No, Sedaris isnít a stand-up; but heís certainly a masterful comic writer, whose modest delivery brings his words to hilarious life.
|Date of live review: Saturday 20th Aug, '11|
Review by Steve Bennett
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