An Evening With David Sedaris

A funny thing happened one night at The Smith Center.

David Sedaris. Photo by Anne Fishbein

When David Sedaris comes out onstage at The Smith Center in an elaborate jacket and a pair of shorts (which he says is made out of two pairs of shorts), the audience is already in stitches, and the reading has not even begun. Without preamble, the humorist launched into an essay titled “A Number of Reasons I’ve Been Depressed Lately,” which addresses the elephant that’s been in every room since November, the election of Donald Trump. In Las Vegas, invoking politics is always a roll of the dice—you never know what you’re going to get—but these fans ate it up. Halfway through the essay, which begins in 2015 when Trump was just a candidate (ah, those halcyon days when our collective nightmare hadn’t yet come to fruition), Sedaris whispers, “I’m just gonna come out and say it. I don’t like the president.”

With politics out of the way, Sedaris launched into familiar territory—his family. There was an essay about revisiting Emerald Isle, a childhood vacation spot in North Carolina. He had purchased a vacation home (dubbed the Sea Section) so his siblings could get together. Anyone familiar with Sedaris’ work now knows his brother and sisters just as well—they populate his books like old friends. He also read a touching essay about his complicated relationship with his father, a man who never quite took a shine to a young David, and who remains a puzzle, now in his 90s, that the writer is forever solving in his stories.

Sedaris also read from his forthcoming book, Theft by Finding, which are diary entries from four decades of journal writing. “If you read someone else’s diaries, you get exactly what you deserve,” he says. But it’s obvious from the earliest years that Sedaris looked at the world through a lens just a little bit funnier than the rest of us did.