The lobby of UC Irvine’s Barclay Theatre was buzzing with people the night of April 27. People from all walks of life were present: the meek, the bookish, the butch, the flamboyant, the star-struck teenagers and the aspiring journalism undergraduate student. What else could have united this variety of people but the humor and love for the strange and ridiculous work of David Sedaris?
With an author like David Sedaris, you are either a rabid fan or have never heard of him. Sedaris’ work first reached the national level when he read his short story ‘The Santaland Diaries,’ on National Public Radio, a story centered around a job he once had as an elf at Macy’s. The story got such a response that Sedaris followed up with four more bestsellers: ‘Naked,’ ‘Me Talk Pretty One Day,’ ‘Barrel Fever’ and the most recent ‘Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim.’
Sedaris is not a glamorous man. He hates to have his picture taken, stands with a boyish tilt behind the podium, and speaks softly with self-deprecating interjections.
Yet every time he launches another book tour (this time for a compilation of stories with all the proceeds going to fellow author Dave Eggers’ pet philanthropic project ‘826 NYC’), the arenas sell out within days of the event being announced.
His popularity is easy to understand. After waiting in line for half an hour at a book signing, he greets you and follows up with a question like: ‘What are you studying?’ or ‘When is the last time you touched a monkey?’ (true story).
He smiles a lot and seems genuinely interested in your answer. Sedaris clearly does care a lot about his audience, taking the time to sign copies of his books for at least a half hour before and after his shows.
His usually candid nature doesn’t stop at the lobby, but continues onstage where it is not uncommon for him to comment critically on something he has just read, or poke fun at the audience for laughing at a childish joke about St. Bernards. He reads aloud entries from his personal diary and stories he is currently working on