Me Talk Ugly One Day: David Sedaris Speaks at Symphony Hall

David Sedaris
Courtesy of Celebrity Series of Boston

David Sedaris

Clad in a quirky suit to match his quirky persona, David Sedaris, comedian and author of several novels, walked out into the spotlight on the stage of Symphony Hall. Men and women quickly took their seats and the talkative buzz quieted as Sedaris took his place behind the podium. As a part of the Celebrity Series of Boston, Sedaris performed some of his highlights aloud on Wednesday, Oct. 18. “I’m happy to be alive,” he said, before diving into his first story, which is a recollection of strangely elaborate insults that people from different countries use.

Sedaris has recently released his own collection of select diary entries, compiled into one book named “Theft by Finding: Diaries (1977–2002),” and he read some of the diary pieces aloud to a crowd inside of Symphony Hall.

“I love his voice as a reader, and I am really enjoying the diaries because it’s such an insight to him when he first started writing,” said Trisha Flanagan, an audience member who described herself as a long-time fan. “I am so glad that he’s sharing them now. He lived up to all my expectations and my expectations were really high.”

He began the show with his ability to shock the audience. “What is another way to say someone is f***ing piece of shit asshole?” he asked, taking the audience by surprise. The audience, mostly older men and women, released startled laughs. Some of Sedaris’ well-known books include “Me Talk Pretty One Day” and “Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls.” Sedaris is known for his satirical and blunt humor as well as his storytelling capabilities, seen in both “The New Yorker” and the podcast “This American Life.”

“I just thought he was hilarious,” Zoey Sarah, an audience member who read Sedaris’ books in high school, said. “He definitely lives up to that, even with his new book. I enjoyed this opener with the different languages and the way people swear.


Alongside these moments of startled laughter, Sedaris hit some nervesーin a good and profound way. He talked about the stark difference between his past and present, causing a sense of nostalgia amongst the chuckles. Specifically, he spoke of his father and the sadness he feels because of his father’s loneliness. His father refuses to live in a nursing home and instead stays in his rusty old house. Sedaris seemed to be making peace with this.

With speaking about his past, Sedaris also subtly commented on the current political situation, taking a few jabs at the Trump presidency.

“I love his take on everyday observations considered so absurd in our time, like all the tiny things,” Flanagan said. “He has such a keenly nuanced observation of the day-to-day silliness and I love what he brings to that.”

Hugh Hamrick, Sedaris’ partner, does not accompany him on tours. “He has better things to do,” Sedaris said.


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