Posted by paulrivas on:
Rivas Cultural Services teamed up again with Dyrenforth Acquisitions to
take in the David Sedaris show at the Arlington Saturday night, on
account of Clare being away in Scotland visiting her grannie.
The little gay was hilarious, as he was when he was last through town a few years ago. I haven't yet read his books, but I've been nothing short of extremely impressed by what I've heard him read. What I enjoy most is that his humor is never predictable. Just when you think you know what he's gonna say next, he makes an entirely different point that is several planes of humor higher than anything you'd thought of. It is very hard to do this and keep people laughing at the same time. Bill Hicks joked about "filling your empty lives with humor you couldn't possibly think of yourselves," but in fact this is a very rare skill. Most comedians make jokes that everyone knows already. Now, maybe Sedaris isn't a comedian in the same sense of the word, and his performance should be judged by different criteria, but he obviously has the incredible ability to create material that is funny enough to keep the smart people interested but simple enough to have mass appeal. He's like Radiohead in this way: he provides both very high artistic content AND very high general appeal.
And therein lay the problem with at the Arlington - the idiot fans. Rivas Cultural Services hates book signings as a rule. We aren't flatly against them, we just don't want any part of them. The bummer in this case was that the book signing cut into Sedaris' time on stage. Dyrenforth Acquisitions and I would have much preferred to have heard Sedaris read for twice as long, rather than surrender half of the quality time with him that we'd paid for to those enough rich enough to buy books (from Borders!) and stand around for an hour waiting to get them signed. His signing their books means we don't get to hear him read more.
The other problem was the question and answer session. When will UCSB Arts & Lectures learn that this is a bad format for paid entertainment? I'm paying to hear Sedaris!!!! Not to hear some rich white stooge's idea of what will inspire Sedaris to answer brilliantly. The people asking the questions were obviously trying way too hard to impress those sitting around them by asking things that they were certain would drive Sedaris to launch into a super-gay rant that was funnier than anything he'd prepared. Obviously, this didn't work, in any instance, and Sedaris was instead forced to tactfully deflect idiotic questions.
Dyrenforth Acquisitions regarded this as further proof that people go to these "get-your-shot-of-culture-here" events to get laid. When someone asked, "How's your brother?", the artist explained that his brother as he writes about him is a much different being than his real-life brother, and that the latter was not subject to being talked/written about without his input. A parallel notion can be found on a series of ESPN commercials on TV these days that shows football commentators being approached in grocery store parking lots and airports by fans who've see them on TV and, mistakenly interpreting this as a two-way relationship, approach the TV personalities as if they were their real-life friends and ask them for rides home and stuff.
"That's not how you treat an artist," Herr Dyrenforth scoffed. "What a bunch of stupid fuckin' white people!"
(Which, I'll add, just goes to show that most crowds are full of stupid people, be they white or brown. When Chris Rock came to the Shoe a while back, two thirds of his performance was dedicated to jokes everyone already knew but that the bulk of the paying crowd - the brown trash and rich whites - absolutely loved.)