Move on up a little higher
Author David Sedaris makes the CFA tremble with audience’s uproarious laughter
Published: Thursday, October 17, 2013
Updated: Thursday, October 17, 2013 18:10
The audience was pleasantly surprised when David Sedaris stood in front of them and read from a handful of newly written and unpublished works.
The first story of the evening, “Move On Up a Little Higher,” was about being a gay teenager in the seventh grade. As he read about peeing his pants and wishing he had a fan to blow the puddle under another student’s desk, the audience burst into hysterical laughter.
The critically acclaimed, best-selling comedic author wrote Me Talk Pretty One Day and, most recently, Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls. He began his 40-city tour Wednesday night at the Center For the Arts (CFA) and had the audience roaring with laughter within a few minutes.
Anne Mulrooney, a junior English major, said the first story was her favorite part of his performance because she found it easy to relate to when thinking about her junior high school experiences.
In addition to dealing with his experiences as a gay teenager, the story dealt with the death of his guinea pig, his hatred for gym class and running as the campaign manager of the student president. Sedaris described how his mother would comfort him by allowing him to cook dinner for the family.
Before moving on to the next tale, Sedaris took a few minutes to talk about what aspects of each story he enjoyed the most.
As he read the first two stories from his unpublished work, he jotted down notes and occasionally reread lines or phrases that didn’t come out right the first time, like he was editing with the audience.
Sedaris’ second story was entitled “An English Lesson.”
It used Sedaris’ expansive travel experiences as an outlet to discuss overly used and pointless travel mannerisms. For example, a hotel employee asked him how his trip was going. Instead, Sedaris told the employee, “Why don’t you ask about my godchild?”
Talking with the employee about his godchild didn’t quite get the rise out of her that he expected, so he told her that his godchild had cancer. This finally prompted the engaging discussion he had been hoping for.
Inspired by Sedaris’ attempts to learn different languages as he traveled to new countries so he could “cross it off his list,” “An English Lesson” was a theoretical travel guide for foreign businessmen. It was packed with small anecdotes about Sedaris’ travels, conversations he has had all over the world and the differences of cursing in various countries.
His final story of the evening, “Company Man,” was recently published in The New Yorker. Sedaris is known for writing hilarious stories based on his personal life and family, and “Company Man” is no exception.
This story deals with the woes of being a middle-aged man and coming to terms with his increasing age. Many audience members were nodding their heads in relation and appreciation of the dilemma.
As he read each story, Sedaris interjected personality into each character. In “Company Man,” when his sisters came to visit him for Christmas, Sedaris acted out each role. This was used to devastating effects when Sedaris discussed his sister’s prescription-induced sleepwalking and eating habit, which, among other things, caused his sister to eat poinsettia leaves and turtle food.
After he was done reading the story, Sedaris read some select passages from his diary. These are not the average “dear diary” passages one might expect, but short and sidesplitting anecdotes about Sedaris’ experiences.
One “diary” entry was a satire of pro-life posters, which often claim what a baby can do at various stages during development. Sedaris joked about a three-week-old fetus holding a miniature tennis racket or signing checks.
The diary entries were one of the evening’s highlights but served as a perfect ending to the 90-minute show. They encapsulated Sedaris’ effortless humor, wit and personality.
When he was done reading from his diary, he took questions from the audience for 10 minutes about how he got into writing and the places he wanted to travel. Sedaris then spent the next two hours talking with fans and signing their books.
Members of the audience thought he made his writing come alive with his voice.
“If you read any of his essays, you’ll be chuckling for a year,” said Caroline Mulrooney of Rochester, who came to see the show with her daughter.
Sedaris continued his tour Thursday in Baltimore, Md., and Friday in Washington, D.C.
The next performance in the CFA will be the Rocky Horror Show on Friday at 7 p.m.