Sedaris Fix: Update

I finally received and listened to David Sedaris Live at Carnegie Hall, so I can finally review it, rather than just offer my speculation. Of course, listening confirmed my speculation (it’s hilarious), but it also provided me with some details to relate.

As he proved with Me Talk Pretty One Day, David Sedaris is at his best when he’s exposing cultural differences, as illustrated through language and tradition (especially religious customs, with all of the associated secular trimmings). From the questions he chooses to ask upon arriving in a new country (his first is always “what do your roosters say?”) to his confusion with the languages that humans speak (the French use the same word for chef and boss), his unique perspective shines a different light on some very funny, if not always particularly significant, truths.

If you were moved to tears by his attempt, in French, to describe the basic tenets of Easter, you’ll certainly feel the same about his description of the practice of Christmas in the Netherlands. Evidently, though the Dutch think the idea of Santa employing elves is freakish and disgusting, they see nothing wrong with a Santa who is assisted on his yearly journey by “six to eight black men” (according to tradition, they were once slaves, but now they’re just Santa’s close friends).

My only criticism is that two of the tracks are rereadings of excerpts from Barrel Fever, which you already will have heard if you own The David Sedaris Box Set (which includes the audio version of Barrel Fever). Still, at least they’re quite funny, so you don’t mind hearing them again. You just might wish that the CD were longer and included only new material.

One last update to my previous post: Sedaris’s forthcoming Untitled Collection has resurfaced at Amazon.com. For now, at least, it’s back on and scheduled for release in June 2004.

Update to My Update
After going back to the print version of Barrel Fever, it now looks like I was wrong about the duplicated material found on David Sedaris Live at Carnegie Hall. The excerpts from “Buddy, Can You Spare a Tie?” appear on the Barrel Fever portion of The David Sedaris Box Set, but they don’t actually appear in the print version of Barrel Fever. The complete article was originally published by Esquire and can be found here in its entirety. If you’re looking for more Esquire essays by Sedaris, including “Six to Eight Black Men,” you can find them all here. I have a feeling that many of these articles will resurface in Untitled Collection.

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