The MAC Presents: An Afternoon With David Sedaris

On April 23, Sedaris graced College Of DuPage’s MAC with his observant, driven, self-depreciative humor.


Antonio Llanos, Staff Writer

Life can be a really funny thing if you’re David Sedaris.  For the author, humorist and comedian, what we believe in and what we oppose often turns out to be the same things- a cruel joke we play on ourselves. However, not everything is a joke on us. Through his own experiences, Sedaris willingly lets the audience in on the joke so as to laugh at themselves along with him.  

On April 23, Sedaris graced College Of DuPage’s McAninch Art Center with his observant, driven, self-depreciative humor. The afternoon was an ensured wonderful experience from the minute Sedaris began reading the first essay from his most recently published collection, “Happy-Go-Lucky,” published May 1, 2022.

Born on December 26, 1956, to a Greek/Jewish household, Sedaris’s family was located in the suburbs of Raleigh, N.C. Born one of six and the second eldest, he fought not only to distinguish himself from his siblings but to be heard in his own way. Sedaris spent his early adulthood bouncing from university to university, in search of an identity through voice. In 1983, Sedaris attended the Art Institute of Chicago. It was during this time that Sedaris initiated his career as a performance artist and met a number of future brilliant performers, including his long-time friend and host of “The Late Show,” Stephen Colbert. 

Though the material was written in advance and were excerpts from his published work and a number of personal journal entries, Sedaris never faltered. Though stationary, his presence and vocal oration mirrored that of a stand-up comedian, establishing a rhythm and pace that swung like a pendulum. Sedaris’ ability to establish pathos, based on very minor interactions with the audience, distinguishes Sedaris as not simply an author but a performer.

Sedaris’s subject matter zoomed in and out of his life with the finite precision of a camera. He talked about his interactions with his life partner, Hugh, life in West Sussex, child-based pontifications, establishing residency in England, lineage and some personal journal entries that included a number of homemade jokes from fans. 

Sedaris recounted a time when he participated in PBS’s Ancestry tracing show, Finding Your Roots, which found Sedaris was related to a Revolutionary War Hero who took lives in the process of ensuring freedom for the country.  However, Sedaris who up until 2019 lived in the United States, noted his personal struggle being forced to pick between the land he knows as home, and where he enjoys his life together with his partner. Sedaris particularly noted England’s healthcare, which is drastically different in regards to The United States’. Though the decision appears to be stacked in favor of the U.K., Sedaris’s punchline noted, pessimistically, how his ancestor was willing to kill in opposition to taxes, while so many years later, Sedaris willingly “folded without so much as a fight to put up,” against British taxation in light of the overwhelming amount of healthcare benefits and paid education.      

The funny little coincidences we find in life often fill our lives with many hours of joy and laughter.  However, none of us have ever really taken the time to chronicle them in a manner that highlights their true nature. When thinking of David Sedaris in such a manner, it is difficult to really express the type of literary whirlwind he is. To a degree, Sedaris is a comedian, reciting scripted material prepped in advance, observant of the difficulties that make life that much harder, but finding solace in the small gems of humor that distinguish themselves from the mundanity of life that repeats a bit too often than we’d like.