Comedy review: David Sedaris – An Evening with David Sedaris
Edinburgh Festival Fringe Scotsman review: David Sedaris — An Evening with David Sedaris at Venue 150 @ EICC (Venue 150), reviewed by Jay Richardson
Certainly one of the more comfortable performers appearing at Edinburgh’s business-orientated conference centre, David Sedaris happily signs books and chats with fans before and after his 90-minute show. Not a stand-up per se, the American humorist is nevertheless a curious hybrid of stand-up and best-selling author.
Reading his stories in his reedy, feminine voice, he adds tone and nuance, eliciting belly laughs from passages that are wry titters on the printed page. More strikingly though, Sedaris, who is an avid collector and solicitor of jokes, the dirtier the better, has a similar sort of feedback loop to comedians.
Interspersing tales from his latest work, Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls, with new material, he’s shaping and sculpting these for publication based on the crowd’s chuckles and polite coughs.
Through the anecdotes he relates from readers at previous signings, including some bizarre toilet habits, and a compelling, 20-minute question-and-answer session, he forges a wonderfully unique, inclusive and surprisingly intimate relationship between author and readership.
That’s certainly a boon when he shares experiences such as his colonoscopy in “The Happy Place” – another situation where, despite the relentless urging of his father, he widely canvassed opinion, horrified at the revelation of “the Farting Room”.
Beginning in Amsterdam with the assurances of a 20-year-old that the first 200-year-old human has already been born, through the defiant stubbornness of his still flourishing “daddy”, Sedaris has an accomplished way of funnelling the universally abstract or socially familiar into the deeply personal, and vice-versa.
In one of the unpublished pieces he delivered the day I saw him, his long-standing appetite for learning foreign languages becomes a witty dissection of the rote banalities of American-English customer service, a sarcastic, cynical guide for visitors to the US.
In a particularly perceptive passage, he relates how his objection is not the personal intrusion of these chummy but automated transactions, but rather the lack of it, a system he mischievously tries to subvert by foisting unsought, distorted information about his godson onto a hotel receptionist.
His reluctance to sing like Billie Holliday notwithstanding, the Q&A was also a delight, with a passionate championing of the NHS by the Sussex-based writer.
Until 24 August. Today 6:30pm
More info: David Sedaris is at EICC
Read an interview with David Sedaris on his new show
Originally published in The Scotsman