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Author, comedian David Sedaris ‘talk pretty’ in Columbus

Courtesy of Robert Banks

It all started with a diary and a story about Santa Claus.

At least that’s what author David Sedaris jokes with audiences. Sedaris is an accomplished humorist and best-selling author. His time on National Public Radio with his personal essays about working at Macy’s as an elf, “Santaland Diaries,” are what catapulted his humor from radio to touring around the U.S.

Sedaris visited Columbus at the Palace Theatre Sunday evening. Sedaris read excerpts from his published work of writings and personal stories. His works showcased his comedic style of poking fun at his own life experiences.

“When I would compete in swim meets, there was always this one guy that beat me,” Sedaris said. “The one time I beat him, my dad said it didn’t count. One win out of 50 losses wasn’t good enough. But now that guy is in North Carolina selling sex toys. Look who’s laughing now.”

Growing up, Sedaris dabbled in a little bit of everything. For a short time, he attended Kent State University, but dropped out.

He eventually attended and graduated from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where Sedaris showed interest in the performing arts. When success didn’t come his way, he turned to writing. Sedaris began a diary in the ‘70s.

Since then, he has been filling the pages with personal stories and thoughts. His stories drew from the insults of his father and how he turned the degrading remarks into a comedic success.

After graduating, Sedaris had a range of jobs, but only one would change his life forever. One night in a Chicago night club, he was reading from his diary.

Sitting in the audience was radio host Ira Glass, who asked Sedaris to come on his show, “The Wild Room.”

After successful appearances on Glass’ show, Sedaris was hired to work for NPR, where his personal “Santaland Diaries” made him an immediate success.

Sedaris touched on several topics during his lecture from dental visits, to the prospects for “if he was running for president” and even poking fun at his overweight siblings.

“My dad always tried to convince my mom that my sister needed to go on a diet,” Sedaris said. “She was ‘chunky.’ I just shut my mouth because I’d rather dad pick on her than harass me about losing in the swim meet … again.”

Since broadcasting on the radio, Sedaris has taken his writings and expounded them to books of essays. Some of his more popular works include “Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim,” which rose to the top of The New York Times Nonfiction Best Seller list in June 2004.

He also recorded the audiobook for the novel, earning him a Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album. That same year, he clinched a second Grammy nomination for Best Comedy Album for his recording “Live at Carnegie Hall.”

His personal stories and raw humor are what attracted long-time fan, Columbus resident Betsy Young, to attend.  

“He starts at the obvious, down-to-earth humor,” Young said. “You don’t expect him to poke fun at himself from stories growing up. It is very clever.”

Attendees could purchase Sedaris’ works at the show from the local bookstore, Book Loft of German Village, who was supplying the merchandise counter. Julie Burgess, employee and previous OSU student, is glad Sedaris visited Columbus to share his stories.

“He has worked with us for a few years,” Burgess said. “Every time he’s very personal. He always has a new spin on humor and how hilarious is life.”

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