France can let him live there, but they can’t have him. Ex-pat American humorist David Sedaris is on a book tour, and he’s more delightful than ever.
He has a unique trick, David Sedaris. He can suspend time. No matter which book he’s promoting, there’s a wacky limbo that envelops any space he enters — as though you’re on a brief guided tour through his fervid imagination and adroitly askew view of the world.
He can also project that wonderful wierdness on television. And when a bright comic like Stephen Colbert wades into Sedaris’ head as he did last night on the Late Show, the results were predictably hysterical.
It all starts innocently enough, as Colbert asks Sedaris about giving commencement remarks, as he’s set to do at Oberlin.
Since he’s expected to impart some pearls of wisdom, Sedaris dug deep. “I started keeping a list of my wisdom,” he tells Colbert. “Part of it is, you have to be really careful about scented candles. There’s really only two kinds worth having. And if you don’t get those two kinds of scented candles, you have to go without. It’s a hard lesson to learn. Diptyque or Trudon.”
Beyond that, he’s clear — and perhaps being gay helps – that youth is perhaps wasted on the young, but not for the reasons you’d think: He believes that you’ll never be as ready for an adventure as you are when you finish school.
“Your parents probably said to you, well you want to be in the arts you need to find something to fall back on,” he explains. “I hear parents say that all the time. But I think if you find something to fall back on, you’re gonna fall back. But I think that parents just don’t want their child to be broke and suffer rejection. But at 22 you’re built for poverty and rejection. In part, because you’re good looking.”
He’s right, of course. In your early 20s, you’re full of idealism and more than a dozen years of education. But you don’t really understand the capital at your command in that you’re as easy on the eyes as you’ll ever be.
“As a kid you don’t realize it,” he muses. “Maybe those 22 year olds are comparing themselves to the person sitting next to them or two rows up, but they are stunning. They just can’t see it. But when you get to be 60, you’re like, why did nobody tell me. And if you’re gay, you want to get in a time machine and have sex with yourself. That’s how bad it is. But you don’t see it when you’re that age.”
Clearly surprised, Colbert responds, “That’s a creepy message.” And, like any smart interviewer looking for an exit ramp onto a more linear topic, Colbert segues into asking Sedaris about his newest book, “Calypso.”
But with Sedaris, every road is a roundabout, and he won’t let you loose until he’s ready.
The title essay, Sedaris announced, has to do with a tumor that he wanted to have removed. Nothing life-threatening, he assured Colbert, who then becomes increasingly incredulous as Sedaris unspools a tale in which he wanted to take the tumor home with him.
The physician said no. “He said it’s against the law for me to give you anything I remove from your body. But they give women babies. How is that fair?”
Oh, we could tell you what he wanted to do with the tumor once he got it out in the open. But we’d rather let Sedaris explain it for himself.
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Last modified: June 19, 2018