David Sedaris makes me laugh almost as much as his sister Amy, whose book I blogged about last year. Ever since his story “The Santaland Diaries” first aired on This American Life in 1992, he has been the literary darling of NPR.
And it’s no wonder–Sedaris is deliberate about reading his work, taking detailed notes of audience reactions to consistently improve both his writing and delivery. His distinctive voice reminds many of Truman Capote, whose short story “A Christmas Memory” is often performed at theaters paired with “The Santaland Diaries.”
Here are my top five favorite David Sedaris stories. But you don’t have to take my word for it! Click on the story title to listen to David reading each piece himself!
At heart, this is a story about culture shock. A class full of international students learning French tries to discuss their different experiences of the same holiday, using limited skills in their new language.
4. “Stadium Pal“ (Appeared in Esquire)
A wish to accessorize leads David to try out the Stadium Pal, an external catheter/leg bag system.
“The drama bug strikes hardest with Jews, homosexuals and plump women who wear their hair in bangs.” As a high school theater nerd and Shakespeare-phile, this story makes me blush. Sedaris gets the details spot on, and I never get tired of listening to this piece. In fact, I even make an appearance in this story as David’s friend Lois.
2. “Poems About Dogs“ (Appeared in Esquire)
[Unfortunately, I can’t find a spot online to listen to David reading this one. If you ever come over to my house though, I have it on CD and I’ll play it for you!]
Sedaris has written a series of jovial poems to share the less glamorous parts of dog ownership with the rest of the world. Or maybe he just hates dogs. Either way, it’s hilaaaarious.
David’s brother Paul is the star of this story, although Amy makes a cameo as well. Rather than describe it, you just need to experience it with David imitating his brother. Paul operates a website, and Amy’s book I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence includes a recipe for the Fuck-It Bucket.
BONUS TRACK! Billie Holiday
David is fairly well known for his impersonation of Billie Holiday. This is a segment from another great story, “Giant Dreams, Midget Abilities” (Me Talk Pretty One Day). You will never hear the Oscar Meyer jingle the same way again.