By Emily Townsend
Humorist David Sedaris spoke to the nearly full Miller Auditorium last Tuesday. Sedaris was on a promotional tour, visiting 34 cities and reading old stories and five new ones.
Sedaris is best known for his appearances on NPR and his self-deprecating biographical books, including tales of childhood, insecurity, homosexuality, France, and hallucinogenic drugs. His work projects a bitter understanding of the world, but in a live setting Sedaris warms a crowd with sincerity and kindness.
In a story about travelling through China, he crossed political correctness boundaries, with anecdotes of flem and dog-face delicacies that could bring a CIP worker to tears. However, at the end of the lecture, Sedaris promoted his favorite author, Tobias Wolff’s 1984 book, “The Barrack Thief”. He begged the audience to buy Wolff’s book instead of his own and selected a passage from the war novelette to read.
Despite Sedaris’s crass humor and a tendency to overuse he word “turd,” he brought out a diverse audience of young and old, proving that intelligent potty humor does exist.
Sedaris said he loved book-tours, because he got to travel for free; “I just get to talk to people,” he said. Along with new material, he read from his journals. The audience soon learned Sedaris’s favorite book tour game: demand fans’ favorite one-liners in exchange for a book signing. The lecture digressed into a rapid fire of ‘America’s best one liners collected by David Sedaris,’ leaving the spectators rolling in their seats with tears in their eyes.
He was sincerely excited to travel to Michigan and more excited to be in Kalamazoo. He said, “I was looking forward to swimming in your YMCA pool.” According to Sedaris’s testimonial, the pool uses a safer alternative chemical to chlorine and has truly helpful lifeguards. “[They’re] not the kind that yell at you,” he said.