There are very few things that would make me trek down from Portland to Eugene on a sunny Friday afternoon, when I should be relaxing in a beer garden. Following a rainbow to a pot of gold is one, and David Sedaris at the Hult Center for the Performing Arts is another
The Hult Center is a remarkable space in downtown Eugene. Glass panels gloved the lobby, supported by huge free-standing Douglas fir timbers. Five minutes before the show--we had to drive from Portland, after all--the lobby was still clotted with patrons clamoring for yet another beer. Right as the warning bell rang, however, the lobby mysteriously emptied and with little fanfare--aside from an emcee who mistakenly introduced him as "Peter Sedaris"--Sedaris strode onstage.
"Thanks, Dick," Sedaris said, and began.
Of course, the best humorists are also keen observers of their time. Sedaris immediately asserted that he was not a political commenter at all. But his best read was his first, of his experience overseas immediately after Obama's election. The French, he said, appropriated Obama's election as their own--"Obamaaaaa! they cried"--with a hint of bitter triumph.
As if we had not elected a thoughtful president, but the president they thought we should elect.
"Oh, get your own black president," he said.
The affection that Oregonians seem to have for Sedaris puzzles me, as his sense of humor is so big-city, snarky, and totally opposite to Oregon's low-key, uber-PC temperament
. The packed theater rolled with laughter as Sedaris offered us such gems as: Wanting to slap a girl who was panicking in a burning hotel; fantasizing about turning breast milk into caramel-corn studded fudge; and marveling at roadkill.
Then I had a revelation. Could it be that Sedaris just happens to hate the same people as Portlanders and Eugenians? And are those people are conservatives? "What? George Bush makes your eyes want to weep with the pus?"
Sedaris said, approximating the translation of his pidgin French back into pidgin English. The house roared. That was it.