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David Sedaris

January 09, 2008
by findingDulcinea Staff
In December 1992, a cynical Christmas elf named Crumpet captured a national audience for writer and humorist David Sedaris. Crumpet’s high, thin voice floated out of the radio on NPR’s Morning Edition, explaining, with what listeners would come to recognize as his unique, unyielding wit, what the holiday season was really like for Santa’s helpers in Macy’s department store. Almost immediately, Sedaris earned a following of avid fans for his hilarious, often self-deprecating radio essays.

A Wry Look at the Holidays

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The success of his subsequent book, Santaland Diaries, earned Sedaris a monthly segment reading his writing for the radio. Excerpts from his readings can be heard on the NPR site. In 1995, Sedaris began contributing to the Chicago Public Radio show This American Life, and his career took off. The TAL Web site offers more than one way to hear episodes that include a Sedaris piece.
The title essay of Santaland Diaries catapulted David Sedaris into the public eye, and the string of best-selling collections that followed cemented his popularity. One winning ingredient to Sedaris’ writing is his unique choice of subject: his book Holidays on Ice contains three stories chronicling the less-wonderful aspects of the Christmas season, including an over-the-top family letter, and his own hilarious critique of a children’s pageant. In Me Talk Pretty One Day, which begins with a young Sedaris as a speech stumbler in a dysfunctional family and ends with a love affair in France.

Another Form of Standup

Several of Sedaris’s essays have been adapted and published as plays and performed widely. Sedaris himself has appeared on TV shows such as Late Night with David Letterman, reading from his work—not the traditional approach to standup comedy, but the audience loved it. Sedaris and his sister, Amy, have collaborated on plays and performance pieces, such as The Book of Liz, under the collective name The Talent Family.
Sedaris’s frank observations of the mundane and the complex in everyday events and relationships clearly resonates with readers and listeners. In a lengthy interview in January magazine, Sedaris sheds light on his critical self-perception, stating: “I'm the biggest jerk in every one of those stories, but that's not faked. I mean, I'm the worst person—the worst human being—at this table. And with the exception of that woman over there with the black jacket on [he points at a stranger at an adjacent table] I'm probably the worst person in this entire restaurant.”
In another interview, with Time magazine, Sedaris candidly answers questions about past jobs, personal journals, and living abroad.
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