A night with David Sedaris

The bestselling author of such books as Me Talk Pretty One Day and Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim, stopped in Portland over the weekend as part of a 36-city tour that is scheduled to be completed in just 37 days.

David Sedaris is just as funny as, if not funnier than, you would expect him to be live on stage.

The bestselling author of such books as Me Talk Pretty One Day and Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim, stopped in Portland over the weekend as part of a 36-city tour that is scheduled to be completed in just 37 days. Sedaris said he arrived in PDX on Saturday and spent his one day off during the tour in Portland.

“What I like about Portland is that it’s not like other towns,” he said. Sedaris said he enjoyed being able to walk everywhere and that the weather is always nice when he visits here. Then he teased that he would have said that to the audience no matter what town he was in.

All jokes aside, he seemed convincing enough that he liked it here. During his time off he was able to relax and catch a movie. (He saw Grindhouse.)

Sedaris read mostly new material to a packed house at the Keller Auditorium Sunday Night. He opened with a satirical piece on accuracy and telling the truth. He apologized for minor inaccuracies in his stories, which are mostly memoirs and personal essays, such as describing a car by the wrong color. He exaggerated the weight of such an untruth, saying sarcastically that a government starting a war with a country over dangerous weapons that they didn’t have, was an example of a lie that didn’t really matter.

He followed the opening with two more stories, one that involved making coffee with the used water from a flower vase; the other about a many-months-long relationship that he formed with a spider. He also read several journal entries that he’d written during a recent three-month stay in Tokyo. He spoke candidly about his trip, explaining that smoking is not allowed on the streets of Tokyo and that caused him to quit. He said he hasn’t had a cigarette since January, which his readers know is a big deal.

“It wasn’t health related,” Sedaris said. “They just don’t want you to burn a hole in someone’s clothes.”

Sedaris also took the liberty of recommending reading to the audience. He said that every time he goes on tour he picks the best book that he’s read recently and promotes it. This time he chose a book by Max Brooks called The Zombie Survival Guide, which was on sale next to Sedaris’ books before and after the show.

“It tells you how to zombie-proof your house,” Sedaris said. “Most of that is common sense. I recommend this book because A: It’s really good, and B: It’s a good start for people who don’t know very much about zombies.”

Earlier in the tour Sedaris said he encountered a fan who insisted that she would not eat human flesh if she were a zombie because she’s a vegetarian. Sedaris explained that that was a dumb thing to say, because zombies don’t make those kind of decisions.

“I like to think that everyone has something to offer,” Sedaris said, “like maybe you can’t count but you’ve got a beautiful singing voice.” About the girl who made the zombie comment he said: “I thought ‘OK, this is someone who has nothing to offer.'”

The average person at a Sedaris reading probably laughs two million times during the hour and a half that he’s in the spotlight. Sedaris often couldn’t get through reading a paragraph without laugher filling the moment at the end of each sentence when he’d pause for punctuation.

Among his most humorous comments where those made off the cuff in response to audience questions, of which he answered about five at the end of the show. When someone asked him what he thought about Don Imus’ recent public faux pas (using the term “nappy-headed hos” in regard to the Rutger’s University women’s basketball team), he cleverly answered: “I think that Don Imus’ punishment is that he has to look like Don Imus…” at which point he was interrupted by a roar of laugher, before continuing, “… for the rest of his life. And I don’t know that it can get any worse than that.”

The audience could have asked better questions, but despite that they seemed to already know Sedaris intimately. When he made a reference to something he’d written in one of his books the audience would give a collective, knowing nod, or laugh like they were in on the joke.

The last person to ask the author a question inquired whether or not he’d been to the Louvre yet. Sedaris had once written that he wouldn’t go to said art museum because they didn’t allow smoking.

“I’ve been in Paris for eight years and I’ve never been to the Louvre,” Sedaris said. “Now it’s like it’s almost too late to go.”

His logic was that after holding out this long he doesn’t want to give up being the only person living in Paris who hasn’t been to the famous museum. Instead, he prefers things like local art auctions.

“I just like art better when there’s a price tag on it,” he said. “Even if you can’t understand it, you can make sense of it if there’s a price tag.”

With that the Q and A ended and Sedaris met many of his fans, books in hand and pens ready, in front of the auditorium.

Sedaris said his next book is due out about a year from now and, from the looks of crowd at the Keller, will be warmly received in Portland.