LIVE REVIEW: An Evening with David Sedaris @ Tyne Theatre & Opera House, Newcastle (11.07.22) | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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It’s a stiflingly hot Monday. The train has been delayed by an hour and I have a horrendous headache and no booze. Not many people are worth venturing out for in these circumstances but after consuming literally every word that the man has ever written, it’s safe to say that David Sedaris is one of them.

There is a confidence to seeing an act you feel that you know well. While waiting for him to finish his first book signing of the evening, there was no spectre whispering “never meet your idols” into my ear. You only need peruse the hundreds of comments from fans out there who love to see him ‘live’ and discuss how memorable he is in person, whether offensive or polite. (Just don’t give him a book he has already signed as this is a huge pet (petty?) hate of his and he will think you cheap.)

An often described ‘humorist’, it is important to note that David is not a comedian. It is on the page that his wry observations and biting wit come alive and when not reading aloud his stories, he is awkward and unprepared but somehow still endearing which contrasts with the easy flow and confidence of his writing.

One story he told was about ‘Andrea’ – a random woman on the street who assaults him and will not leave him alone. The situation was obviously rather traumatic but the attraction of David is that he can make appalling situations highly entertaining, and the reaction of the crowd supported this particularly when emulating Andrea’s speech and mannerisms.

Later however, during an informal ‘chat’ with the audience, the subject of Chris Pincher (the famous catalyst of Boris Johnson’s collapse) came up. David opined that the assault of a man was in no way as serious as the assault of a woman, basically that men should “get over it and it’s not a big deal” and he cited his own experience of being assaulted as an example to support this view.

A lingering and shocked silence emanated from the audience and David was visibly thrown. He unsuccessfully tried to support his argument using Kevin Spacey’s transgressions as another poor example, which only served to make the discomfort in the room even worse. He quickly moved on to another fan question, this time ending with a localised joke about a student who fastidiously collects litter from around her Sunderland campus purely to drive to Newcastle and throw it out of the car window. Luckily, this was a winner and the crowd were onside again.

There were some wonderfully written poignant pieces about death, his father’s recent intensely long, tedious funeral and the practice of mourning in general. Stories that really encapsulate why he is so popular: heavy realism interspersed with astutely distinct observations that are very much his own.

Afterwards, while in line to get my book signed, I could hear the person in front chatting with David about a nipple barbell they had designed that had a cat’s head on each end. A huge fan of puns (his holiday home is named ‘The Sea Section’) and without missing a beat, he gleefully looked up and said ‘Hello Titty!’

A major part of his act is signing books and chatting to fans and he does this for hours before and after shows. He sat smiling, occasionally taking bites of his fillet steak, mashed potato and asparagus. On his desk were boxes of chocolates from Fenwick, his mispronunciation of which was corrected earlier, by a burly local in the crowd.

Take a chocolate,” he said softly, while drawing a sea turtle in my book with his huge collection of coloured Sharpies. Smirking slightly, he looked up at me.

They’re from Fen-Nick not Fen-Wick, you know.”

Walking out of the theatre and biting into my posh chocolate, I felt relief. I’d met an idol and it was far from disappointing.

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