David Sedaris Still Loves His Job

Oct 18, 2019

Credit Steven Barclay

David Sedaris is a humorist, author, NPR contributor and soon he'll return to Laramie on Monday, October 28th. Dubbed "the master of satire," Sedaris will spend the evening sharing his hilarious observations on the human condition. In advance of this one-night only event, the author, whose works include Santaland Diaries, Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk, and his most recent bestseller, Calypso, speaks with Wyoming Public Radio's Cooper McKim.

I see you've prepared to tell never before heard stories, starting out, can you spoil all of them?

Gosh, well, I mean, I wasn't sure what I was going to do. My last book Calypso came out a little over a year ago and once a book comes out it's kind of dead to me. So, I'll be reading things that I've written since then; I just recently started a position with CBS Sunday morning as a commentator and they can't be overtly political. And I wrote one recently that was about a trip that I took to Norway and Sweden and just about, you know, cultural differences. In Norway, they really don't say mister and missus anymore. Everyone just goes by their first name. Which, I don't know, I'm 62. I want to be called mister. I love being called mister and I resent the fact that it's disappearing just as I'm aging into it. So, I'm making a case for mister in one of the things.

A lot of them have slipped my mind, I write them and then I file them away and then I forget about them. So, I'll go through edits between now and when my tour starts, I'm going through everything and writing it over a few more times.

I have to be honest, I didn't really think you told me what you'd be talking about. I like that.

*laughing* Oh, I just, I don't know, I thought it was a real question.

So, in 1994 your first collection came out. The year I was born..

Oh no, really?

It seems like you're still getting as much satisfaction out of your work. Has the experience changed at all of writing new stories and collections from 1994? And have you ever just wanted to sit back, relax, and direct an Avengers movie?

Uhh no, I haven't. I like what I do. I like the idea that a year from now, I will have a bunch of new stuff, and I have no idea what it would be about, I have no idea. I mean that's kind of a nice thing about having an audience there. Right? Because the audience kind of tells you everything you need to know, the audience will kind of tell you that you're boring them.

If there comes a day when people walk out, and people are bored, and I don't care, then hopefully I'll quit. But as long as I still care, I want to get better. I want to get better at what I do. And the only way to do that is to do it.

I like the idea that a year from now, I will have a bunch of new stuff, and I have no idea what it would be about, I have no idea. I mean that's kind of a nice thing about having an audience there. Right?

Somebody said to me a while ago: Why are you doing that? Why do you go on tour? It's like, I love it. I really love it. I mean, I feel completely at home.

But I only signed books before the show as well as after. And so let's say if I don't feel like doing and then they go and then I go to the theater, and I start signing books beforehand have to do is meet one person and then I'm like, Oh, I'm doing this show for them. I can't wait to get up there

is silly.

Has it gotten better, or just you've retained the satisfaction... it hasn't deflated at all?

You know, that's always been my fear. And I know this sounds kind of phony. But, you know, it happens to everybody one day: nobody cares about you anymore, you know? And it happens to everybody, so there's no reason why it wouldn't happen to me. This is when you say, "oh my god, no, it'll never happen to you."

But I think the biggest tragedy would be if it happened and if I hadn't appreciated it while I had it. That would be a tragedy, I think. So I honestly do appreciate it. I appreciate the attention. Yeah, I don't take it for granted.

But I think the biggest tragedy would be if it happened and if I hadn't appreciated it while I had it. That would be a tragedy, I think. So I honestly do appreciate it. I appreciate the attention. Yeah, I don't take it for granted.

This is not an NPR thing that people do, but I felt like this would be a good first opportunity to try a speed-round with you. Funniest or most embarrassing thing that's happened to you recently.

I was in Germany a few weeks ago on a book tour and this young woman came up and she was wearing a checkered shirt and a pair of plaid trousers and then she had a jacket that was like paisley. And I said, "Wow," I said, "You know, you look fantastic. I said it's so difficult to, you know, to match conflicting patterns and look good." I said, "You did a great job." And she said, "Oh, you know, coming from an elderly man, that means a lot to me." I thought, "Elderly???"

*laughter*

Ouch.

Elderly?? And then when I was on tour in the United States a few minutes ago, a few months ago, this woman came up and said, "Can I say something without offending you?" And I said, "yeah." And she said, "there was a point when you were on stage and you lowered your head for a minute and, you looked just like Ruth Bader Ginsburg."

It's like, how is there an offensive way to say that? I mean. I don't want to look like Ruth Bader… I mean, I wouldn't mind being smart like she is. I wouldn't mind being, uh… I don't know.

Maybe James Dean next time.

I mean, nobody… if a man looks for a moment to you like Ruth Bader Ginsburg, keep it to yourself.

On that note, any other wise life insights to pass along before you head towards the US?

Oh gee, well, I just did something called the Master Cleanse. Have you heard of it? It's like Jerry Seinfeld did one for writing jokes. And so, I did one for writing comic essays and I was supposed to dispense wisdom. I think the only bit of wisdom I have, and it's really good advice, Really good advice is to write thank you letters. I know, it's simple.

I hate to be like this, but I bought this person a very expensive gift. And it was a person that I knew terribly well. And I didn't hear a word, I didn't get a thank you letter. And then I thought, "Well, you know what, I don't think I'll be doing that again." And it's wrong to do something for the thank you letter. But I mean, come onnnn.

And I'm not talking about an email. I'm talking about an actual letter with a stamp on it. It'll get you far in this world.

I mean, nobody... if a man looks for a moment to you like Ruth Bader Ginsburg, keep it to yourself.

Well, this, this has been fun. I really appreciate you making time.I hope you're looking foward to come into Wyoming and I'm sure we'll have a packed house. 

I really am and thank you, I thought your questions were terrific.