Review: Sedaris works overtime at Hawaii Theatre

Mar. 11, 2014 | 0 Comments

REVIEW BY JOHN BERGER / jberger@staradvertiser.com

“Awesome!”

The all-purpose accolade that is perhaps the most trite, over-used, run-into-the-ground cliche in contemporary American English was repurposed as a comic reference Monday night as soft-spoken humorist David Sedaris entertained an enthusiastic but respectful crowd for a solid 95 minutes at the Hawaii Theatre. Anyone seeing Sedaris for the first time certainly went home a fan.

David Sedaris on stage at the Hawaii Theatre on Monday. (Photo by Kat Wade, Special to the Star-Advertiser)

David Sedaris on stage at the Hawaii Theatre on Monday. (Photo by Kat Wade, Special to the Star-Advertiser)

Sedaris expressed his personal opinion of “Awesome!” early in the show — “Everything is ‘Awesome!’ in America,” he observed dryly — and then brought it back for renewed laughter several times in stories and essays mocking the cluelessness of folks he encounters in his travels. He noted the inane comments made by many people in the hotel industry, describing one such comment as obviously being intended as “a hook to hang a tip on.”

He also dismissed the all-purpose justification, “People like it,” with a simple but effective retort.

A third memorable one-liner was his assessment of those pre-show “red carpet” interviews at the Academy Awards. They represent “Everything that’s wrong with America,” he said.

Sedaris combined humor and sensitivity in talking about his sister’s suicide and its impact on himself, his siblings and his father. Then, at another point in the show, he touched down neatly and emphatically in politically incorrect territory with a story about an encounter he had with a “physically impaired” person who should not have been working that particular job.

Two of his funniest bits — judged in terms of the sheer loudness of the crowd’s response, anyway — involved situations and subjects that can’t be described in explicit detail here.

Two other stories though can be. One was a quick account of his last show in Hawaii when a gecko fell into his water glass and drowned while he was in the middle of the show and he didn’t notice until he took a drink.

The other posed the question, “How can your partner say that your hands ‘feel dirty,’ not sticky but ‘dirty,’ in the dark?”

The punch line for that one earned the enthusiastic applause and laughter it received.

And, somewhere in Hawaii there is a waitress who went down in history last night for having told Sedaris regarding a mix-up regarding a drink order, “I would have gaven it to you.”

David Sedaris. (Photo by Kat Wade, Special to the Star-Advertiser)

David Sedaris. (Photo by Kat Wade, Special to the Star-Advertiser)

In another section of the show he took questions from the audience:

Yes, that writing we all saw him doing during the show were notes to himself about how the crowd was responding to what he’d just said.

His favorite island? Iceland.

Are there subjects he considers “taboo” for his work as a writer or stage performer? Sedaris said that doesn’t do anything about his family without running it by them first. He doesn’t write about sex because “It’s not my topic,” and added that he finds it hard to write about other cultures.

It was a long evening for Sedaris. In terms of the total amount of time he spent performing and interacting with the fans, Sedaris worked overtime. He spent more than an hour signing books before the show and then went back out and resumed signing books and interacting with the fans for more than two hours afterwards.

Each fan got a couple of minutes with him — not just a quick get-yer-book-signed-and-move-on-out — some of the back-and-forth repartee was solid show material.

The after-show “show” at the book signing table lasted till midnight. That’s overtime by any measure.
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John Berger has been a mainstay in the local entertainment scene for more than 40 years. Contact him via email at jberger@staradvertiser.com.

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