David Sedaris at Massey Hall

David Sedaris is Sociable at Massey Hall

My friend Cathy could be BFF with David Sedaris. David just doesn't know it yet.

Besides reading his articles and books, it turns out that both Cathy and David are huge fans of George Saunders. Apparently David flogs one book (in addition to his) whenever he goes out on a tour. When he asked the packed Massey Hall crowd last week if anyone had read Braindead Megaphone, he got exactly two quiet-but-enthusiastic-Torontonian-style "whoo!"s. One was from Cathy.

This summer David was in town signing books and I missed him. Luckily Cathy is smarter than I am, and found out that he was back in town in December for a reading at Massey Hall. Hot. Diggity.

Going to book the tickets though, she discovered all that was left was "partially obstructed view". I sagely pointed out to her that when we listen to him on the This American Life podcast, we have an entirely obstructed view. She acknowledged my good point, and tickets were purchased. So Cathy was there to show Braindead Megaphone (and David) some love.

We realized we were both half-consciously expecting a set dressing of dead mice and human skulls (no such luck), instead it was a podium, a spotlight and a remarkably casual and chatty author. I guess it's not so remarkable that David Sedaris is so comfortable at his readings -- given that he does two tours of 30 cities every year. Straight after our show, he was headed to Syracuse.

Our obstructed view turned out not to mean staring at the back of a support column (which I've done at Massey Hall before), just that we only saw David in profile. It turns out that David Sedaris looks very nice in profile. (Granted I did spend part of the evening watching him through the top of the woman in the front row's perm, but that's just par for the course on any evening out).

Seeing him in profile though, I couldn't help but think about David in the context of his books. Like, say, his description of his flat ass (as described in "When You Are Engulfed in Flames"). I can now verify for the voracious New Yorker fact checkers that his ass is, indeed, notably flat. However, contradicting his claim that he owns only weather-beaten, lightly mangled clothing, David turns out to be quite the snappy dresser (read: he was wearing a tie).

Fans who listen to This American Life were disappointed when David passed on doing a Billie Holiday jingle (sadness), but pleased to get an easter egg bonus story which This American Life had passed on, about pronunciation and pretensions. Think Mike Birbiglia on Olive Garden pasta e fagioli. (Bad call letting that one slip by Ira). Plus a very funny as-yet-unpublished bit on air travel. We'll never hear "your trash?" the same way again ["you're trash"].

When David next passes through town, like the dry, casually dark, observational-humour Santa that he is, I will definitely be going. Partially obstructed view, wholly obstructed, let the sweetly acerbic humour play on.

Photograph of Massey Hall by Metrix X in the blogTO photo pool.


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