Here is David Sedaris’s relationship advice: “My husband Hugh and I have been together for 25 years, so I get asked about it a lot,” he said. “I say, first, do NOT ever talk about your relationship with the person you’re in a relationship with. Lesbians have the highest divorce rate because they talk about their relationship all the time. And gay men divorce the least because there’s nothing they hate doing more.
And next, when you’ve been together 15 years, stop listening to what the other person is saying. Whatever they’re saying, you’ve heard it all before. Oh, pretend to listen and make sounds of sympathy every so often. But don’t listen.”
The man packed the Sony Centre tonight, which holds 3000 people. The downstairs was full and up was pretty full, so could it be that around 2500 people came out to hear A WRITER? A WRITER READING HIS ESSAYS? Jesus. Incredible.
He just walked on and stood at the podium and started to talk, and we started to laugh. He told us that his luggage had been lost in transit and so he had to go out and buy clothes. He was wearing a bow tie. “I used to say that wearing a bow tie means ‘I cannot get an erection any more.'” And he went on from there, the laughs rolling in, people hooting and gasping. He read two stories, one about having a benign tumour removed so he could feed it to a large snapping turtle – yes – and the second, a long one about his crazy brother Paul, which was very funny but also moving – about how Paul is raising his daughter the self-esteem way, praising everything she does, as opposed to how David and his siblings were raised by their alcoholic mother. “Aren’t they horrible?” his mother said once to her friends at the country club, looking at her kids. “I’d just like to line them up against a wall and shoot them.”
Yes, it was funny, and said with affection. At the end he read from his diary – he must write down every funny thing he hears or thinks, and he hears and thinks a lot of funny things – and then took questions, about his FitBit mania and his collecting garbage mania. I put up my hand but was too far back for him to see. I wanted to ask how his family feels about his writing about them, especially his parents about whom he is brutally honest. Have they read his stories? Don’t they mind? Does he hold back and censor himself? I’m sure he does – but it doesn’t show, that’s for sure.
Anyway, he was inspiring – a very funny man whose writing gives pleasure to so many. He is known to take a huge amount of time with book signing – staying for hours, talking to each person. When I left, the lineup was already the entire length of the lobby – young old gay straight, waiting for David. Oh, to be that funny. He’s a writer superstar. They exist. He and J. K. Rowling, writer superstars, among my heroes.
This afternoon, however, I went to see the National Theatre Live presentation of the great Tom Stoppard’s latest play “The Hard Problem”. These filmed plays are spectacular, putting us all front row centre. But this play – two thumbs down. Stoppard is known for his intensely intellectual work; I saw the Shaw Festival’s production of the brilliant “Arcadia” recently and loved straining to follow the dense, fascinating, abstruse discussions. Here, the discussions were just dense, endless, the characters made of cardboard, and even much of the acting, I felt, wasn’t great, mostly because the actors had so much to say and so little to feel.
Have to tell you that part of me didn’t mind at all thinking, If even famous, brilliant Tom Stoppard can write such a dud, then my own duds don’t matter so much. Schadenfreude. David Sedaris could say something funny about that. I’ll work on it.