Hoards of lit fans -- which is to say, people who still read actual books -- filled in the tapestried seats of McFarlin Auditorium last night and listened to humorist, essayist and This American Life favorite David Sedaris regale us with tales of pompous, affected accents; kookaburras and what it's like to live in France while the United States has a black president. Oh, and he also mentioned a certain elephant in the room -- or Dallas Zoo, to be more precise.
Sedaris mentioned that usually, personal requests -- like an appearance with a dying kid or his speaking out on behalf of a particular cause -- are usually turned down by his agent well before they ever make it to him. But then he got a letter from Lily Tomlin, so, yes, you can see where this is going. And though he said he'd "be more inclined to talk about a supermarket attendant everyone made fun of" before getting around to elephants living in captivity, Sedaris said, "I like Lily Tomlin. I really like Lily Tomlin." He explained a bit about Jenny the Elephant's situation -- though not too much, because, look, this clearly isn't his thing.
He said, "There's something called Citizens for Jenny ... so ... you ... call them. You can't beat Lily. I don't know if she's got a zebra in Cincinnati she's [taken an interest in]. Bea Arthur seems to care too, and they're both great."
Then he moved on to other topics, one being that during this recession we all should really try to get a deal on a room at the Adolphus because "the Adolphus is fantastic. I think. You won't find shit on your shower curtains there." (Don't worry -- that isn't Sedaris's sole guideline for good hotel rooms, just an observation hanging around from an earlier anecdote.)
He also answered questions from the audience, and during that Q&A he mentioned that "Repeat After Me" is probably his favorite of his own stories. (I must add that I totally feel the same way.) "It's the kind of story I wanted to write when I started writing," he said. "If I had to take all my books and reduce them to one story I think it would be that story."
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Sedaris signed books until well past 1 a.m. (possibly 2, but I left once he signed my copy of When You Are Engulfed in Flames, complete with a drawing of Jenny). But not before he closed his chat with this sign-off: "And an elephant who has sore feet and can't move around and is crazy ... What're we gonna do?! Thank you"