David Raymond Sedaris (born December 26, 1956) is an American humor writer. He is known mostly for his autobiographical essays, which cover a variety of subjects from his childhood and family in The '60s to his drug-abusing, odd-job-working, performance-art-dabbling-in "college" years to living abroad in France, Japan and the U.K. with his long-time boyfriend, Hugh.
His first mainstream recognition came in 1992 when NPR aired The Santaland Diaries, his story about working as an elf in a Macy's one Christmas time. Since then he's become one of the most popular humorists writing today, including outside the U.S., and has published several books.
His essay collections are:
- Barrel Fever (1994)
- Naked (1997)
- Holidays on Ice (1997)
- Me Talk Pretty One Day (2000)
- Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim (2004)
- When You Are Engulfed in Flames (2008)
- Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls (2013)
- Calypso (2018)
Various other essays, diary entries and fictional pieces have been published separately or performed live or for radio.
More recently he's begun writing "fables," stories about Funny Animals in mundane human situations, which are collected in Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk: A Modest Bestiary (2010). He also edited a 2005 short-story anthology called Children Playing Before a Statue of Hercules.
He is a frequent contributor to the PRX show This American Life and to The New Yorker magazine. Amy Sedaris is his sister, and, like the rest of his family, is a character in some of his essays. They've worked together a number of times.
David Sedaris and his works provide examples of:
- Achievements in Ignorance: He was kicked out of his parents' house after his father learned he was gay, but he only learned about why weeks after the fact when his mother broke down in the car with him about it. He thought he'd been kicked out for being a drug addict.
- Big, Screwed-Up Family: The Sedaris family is a wild cast of characters all their own.
- Common Law Marriage: Him and Hugh have been in one for years. David describes both himself and Hugh as the kind of people who'd never get officially married anyway.
- Dark Reprise: "Now We Are Five" is this to "The Ship Shape."
- Deadpan Snarker: Frequently.
- French Jerk: He expected this upon his first few visits to France, but actually found that the village in Normandy had nothing but nice, polite, helpful townsfolk...which made him even suspicious.
- Fun with Foreign Languages: During the period in which he didn't speak French all that well, he attempted to avoid gendered words as much as possible...which led him to using plurals of words as a patch, ending up with him crowding his house with a number of different things, including 2 kilos (over 4 pounds) of tomatoes. Hugh forbade him from going to the market until his French improved.
- Leaving Food for Santa: In "Santaland Diaries", he describes how he, as a Macy's elf, had to go through a routine with a Mall Santa where he would find out what kind of cookie each kid was going to leave out and then claim it was Santa's favorite.This afternoon Santa got an Asian child who wasn't familiar with the idea of leaving cookies. Santa asked what she was going to leave him to eat, and she got a puzzled look on her face. He said, "Something round to eat?" and she said, "A potato?"
- Ludd Was Right: He felt this way about computers because of the way it made the Typewriter, something he very much enjoyed using, obsolete. He started to come around on it right around the time he realized The Internet Is for Porn.
- Neat Freak: Sedaris is so known for this, particularly for picking up stray litter to the point he had a garbage truck named after him in England.
- Straight Gay: Very, which sometimes caused friction in his family and school life where he couldn't hide it...and then later in life, when he was so straight laced that he had wildly specific standards in men, and felt alienated from the nightclub scene of the time, which was very not built for him.
- Vocal Dissonance: David's voice is much more feminine than his looks imply. Apparently it's a trait among the Sedaris men—both his father and his (very straight) brother have similar voices.
- Wham Episode: Several:
- "Ashes": His mother dies of lung cancer.
- "Repeat After Me": The first time he ever talks about the ramifications of writing about his family.
- "The Smoking Section": After spending decades as a pro smoking advocate, he gives up smoking for good.
- "Now We Are Five": Tiffany Sedaris's suicide.