David Sedaris Shares About Taxidermy, Vampire Sculptures At UCLA
Sedaris was introduced by the three winners of the David Sedaris 4th Annual Humor Writing Contest- E.C. Seeds, Matthew Overstreet and Joy Myerscough. They gave little introduction, saying less than a sentence each, before Sedaris purposefully strode onstage toward the podium.
Sedaris congratulated the contest winners, and, as an afterthought, turned to the audience to explain, “Everyone had to have sex with me and then write about it.” The audience erupted into laughter for what would be the first of many times that evening.
In a crisp pink striped button down shirt and pale blue tie, Sedaris was diminutive yet commanding. Though there was a stool next to the podium, he stood for the for the entirety of his time onstage – a full two hours, lightly swaying back and forth as he read his stories to a captivated audience.
As is standard with Sedaris’ readings, he shared a few stories and read some entries from his diary, after which he took questions and recommended a book. He began with an essay entitled “If I Ruled the World,” written for the UK’s Prospect Magazine. He continued with three more stories: “Understanding Understanding Owls,” one that had not yet been titled, and “Dentists Without Borders,” the latter of which was recently published in The New Yorker.
Sedaris’ humorously self-deprecating autobiographical style causes readers to feel as though they really know him, and most of his family and friends for that matter. Add to that his casual yet unassailable stage presence, and the audience feels a deep personal connection with Sedaris. It was as though he were simply sitting in a friend’s living room, having a cup of tea and sharing the story of his latest absurd experience at a taxidermy shop.
Because, it seems, every experience in his life is at least a little absurd.
For every story that Sedaris publishes, there are countless more that do not make it into print. This was especially evident during the portion of the evening in which Sedaris answered questions from the audience.
An audience member asked about Sedaris’ brother Paul, known to Sedaris’ readers as “The Rooster.” He excitedly told the audience how Paul lives to decorate his house for Halloween and Christmas, and Sedaris found the perfect birthday present for him this year.
He paused for a moment before slowly explaining that there is a woman in England who creates lifelike sculptures of stillborn babies, which is somehow supposed to help with the grieving process for mothers.
But sometimes the sculptures do not get picked up. And in that case, the Englishwoman turns them into vampires. Complete with tiny needle-like fangs.
Sedaris proudly explained that he bought his brother a stillborn baby vampire statue, figuring that he could use it both as a Halloween decoration and as a stand-in for baby Jesus at Christmas!
Before ending the evening, Sedaris giddily recommended a book to the audience- "Deadly Kingdom: the Book of Dangerous Animals" by Gordon Grice, which, according to Sedaris, “may as well have been called The Book of Asshole Animals.”
Sedaris closed the event as usual, with a book signing, during which he spoke with every person individually.
For any fan of David Sedaris, this was truly a delightful experience, one that will not be forgotten anytime soon.
Reach Seema here