While standing on a chair behind the sports section of the University of Penn Bookstore, I realized that attending a David Sedaris reading is probably a much different experience for David Sedaris. And since David Sedaris will never know what it’s like to wait outside for an hour, make friends in line with an architect turned yoga teacher and hear one of the world’s best satirists make adult diaper jokes, I thought I’d write down the experience for him. And you. You can read it, too.
I tried seeing Sedaris once before in Chicago, but it was far too crowded. This time around, for his “Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls” book tour, I got to the bookstore early and waited in a line that eventually stretched down the block. We were eager. We were excited.
We were kinda sweaty.
Eventually, we were led not to the seats (those were for wristband-wearers only), but to a standing room only section behind several behemoth bookcases. All that waiting to see David Sedaris only to stand behind a bookcase and not see David Sedaris? I quickly stole a chair from elsewhere. If I had to stand, it’d be on a small and questionably stable platform where I could see, thank you very much.
David Sedaris is a nice, thoughtful guy. He saw the mob of people and the open, blocked off seats in front of them and did his best to fill them.
“Is there anyone old or bald in the back? You can come forward.” Two men did.
“Are there any adults here with braces? Or diabetes?”
A woman with painted eyebrows yelled, “I wore owl socks for you!”
David Sedaris replied, “Sure, necrophiliacs can move up.”
Slowly, the seats filled and David Sedaris began reading.
I won’t mention the stories, but—spoiler alert—they were great. David Sedaris’ characterization of himself is dead on. His care to pronounce it “SAMbreros” and not “SOMbreros” shows you the depth of his skill.
Between stories, David Sedaris shared the types of questions people getting their books signed later could expect from him. For the bearded men, he wanted to know if their dads owned guns because he suspected they did. For the women, he wanted to know if once they took their bras off for the night, did they ever put them back on? David Sedaris is a curious guy.
At the end of the reading, the floor was opened for questions from the crowd. The very last question yielded the very best answer. Don’t you love a good conclusion? David Sedaris was asked if he had any advice for the room and after thinking for a moment, replied:
“The first thing you should do in a hotel room: flush the toilet. You don’t want to find out too late it doesn’t work.”