Review: DAVID SEDARIS (Royce Hall at UCLA)

Post image for Review: DAVID SEDARIS (Royce Hall at UCLA)

by Samuel Garza Bernstein on November 18, 2018

in Theater-Los Angeles,Tours


Bestselling author David Sedaris provided evidence Friday night that he has not exaggerated in the stories he has written about shopping in Japan with his sisters Amy and Gretchen. The three of them (or sometimes just two) giddily, and with acknowledged codependence, buy clothes that are outrageous and often outrageously expensive. He arrived for his annual UCLA’s Center for the Art of Performance (CAP UCLA) appearance wearing sequin-covered culottes. With a very nice button-down shirt and rather sensible shoes. The culottes show off what he describes as one of his best features, his calves, which are rather fetching.

In one of my favorite pieces of the evening, Mr. Sedaris spoke about his increasing love of clothing some might call feminine. He explored the subject in a recent New Yorker piece as well (“The Perfect Fit”) but this wasn’t a reading of that essay. He specifies that he is not transitioning, does not want to dress as a woman, and does not want to wear make-up. He does, however, want to wear a ballgown skirt, something that rustles attractively when he walks around a corner, and in the ballgown skirt he wants to take his rightful place at a urinal. That such a plan might be impractical (taffeta spots so easily) is not an apparent consideration.

The one-night-only special event marked Sedaris’s 20th anniversary at Royce Hall, nearly to the day of his very first appearance on November 6, 1998. Sedaris has released two books since his sold out one-week run at UCLA’s Little Theater in January 2017, Theft By Finding: Diaries (1977-2002) and Calypso, his newest collection of essays, a fantastic book that I highly recommend. Another diary of post-2002 material is set for release in 2020.

If you are a fan of Mr. Sedaris, let me offer that the evening lived up to the high standard he set in prior appearances. If you have not yet read his work, you must. He is an original voice, akin to the specificity (not the tone mind you) of Joan Didion, Nora Efron, and Fran Lebowitz. Knowing and appreciating his writing is part of what it means to be literate and culturally alive. If you have read his work and are not a fan, I do not wish to acknowledge your existence.

One of things I enjoy tremendously about Sedaris in performance is his generosity of spirit. His opening act was a young Canadian comedian named Chris Middleton, who did a very funny set, and is not well-known in the United States. When Sedaris arrived onstage, he didn’t just acknowledge Mr. Middleton, he detailed specifically how he appreciated Middleton’s work. Sedaris also lengthily discussed the greatness of Less, the recent Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Andrew Sean Greer. He spoke modestly and with genuine enthusiasm and passion. We live in an age of relentless self-promotion. Devoting time to acknowledging the brilliance of others is unusual and rather lovable.

Sedaris is the author of Barrel Fever, Holidays on Ice, Naked, Me Talk Pretty One Day, Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim, When You Are Engulfed in Flames, and Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls, as well as the aforementioned Theft By Finding: Diaries (1977-2002) and Calypso. There are over 10 million copies of his books in print and they have been translated into 25 languages. CAP UCLA’s 2018-19 spoken word and special events continue with Elizabeth Gilbert and Cheryl Strayed in Conversation, December 2 at Royce Hall.

photo by Adam DeTour

David Sedaris
presented by Center for the Art of Performance UCLA
Royce Hall at UCLA
played November 16, 2018 at 8
for future shows, call 310-825-2101 or visit CAP UCLA
for tour dates and cities, visit David Sedaris

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Robert Squillante April 17, 2019 at 7:08 pm

Not worth $200 tickets. Short show with time wasted on his guest writer (who was fair at best) and his book. I like his books but this is not a fair price for an abbreviated show that is humorous and clever but with no big laughs. Disappointing.


Leave a Comment