David Sedaris

He hates dogs.

I’ve become a podcast aficionado. But I only listen to three, the exquisite “Here’s The Thing,” with Alec Baldwin, the otherworldly “Radiolab” and Marc Maron’s “WTF.”

Maron produces the most.

But he’s my least favorite.

Because he’s run out of guests.

What I mean by that is the Internet is about niches. And Maron’s is comedy. When Maron interviews comedians, it’s truly priceless, he extracts insight from someone in the same wheelhouse, it’s like listening in on a conversation between experts. Although he’s a music fan, you wince when Maron interviews musicians, because he just doesn’t know enough. That’s our backyard, we know when the albums were released, who worked at the label, this is our life, but it’s not Maron’s, so when he fumbles release dates and catalog histories and career peaks…you stop listening.

Unless the guest is so good, they can carry it by themselves.

Like Marshall Crenshaw. To hear Crenshaw tell his tale is to be riveted by a laconic speaker who hasn’t had a hit in eons but hasn’t stopped thinking. Crenshaw tells the story of how his father took him to see Hendrix, how he got from there to here. That’s what we’re always interested in…the journey. We know them because of the destination, stardom, or fame, but despite the rocket ship of TV, most people follow a circuitous route to our consciousness. The choices, the opportunities. Kind of like Tommy Chong… To hear him tell his tale on Maron’s podcast is to have your jaw drop. How he played music, wrote a Motown hit and then turned his family’s strip club into a comedy haven. Huh? This is the opposite of the twenty first ethos, wherein everybody’s got a defined path to riches, in the sixties people fumbled, found themselves, that’s why it was the heyday of art, the chances that were taken.

That’s why David Sedaris is so good, because he cares not a whit what you think and he’s willing to embrace his own personality.

Sedaris was not my cup of tea. But then Felice took me to hear him read at UCLA and…you become riveted, because despite the words being static, Sedaris gives a performance, it’s very intimate and touching, I’ve now become a reader of his pieces in “The New Yorker.”

But I didn’t truly become a fan until I heard him on Maron’s “WTF” last night.

Everybody else is trying to sell.

Sedaris is interested in lifting the rock, seeing what’s underneath.

He started with Maron himself, telling him the cover of his book was all wrong, that it featured a pic of Marc, which gave the impression that it was not a real book, just a celebrity tell-all.


Listen to the marketers and they’ll tell you everything is just grist for the mill, fodder to be sold. Whatever it takes, baby. Whore yourself out, the audience doesn’t care. It’s a scramble to stay alive, to make money, and you do what you have to.

Only in order for the whole thing to work, it has to resonate with the audience. And when you play to Citi instead of me, I find it hard to bond.

Then again, if you play to yourself, it’s best.

You can’t say you hate dogs, you’re gonna get hate mail, you’re gonna get booing and hissing, and as a result you bury your truth, you become who others want you to be.

That’s a so-called “artist” today.

Not that Sedaris can’t reject his own kind… He hates the knee-jerk liberals who won’t let him tell his story, who insist everything be politically correct, i.e. their exact left wing view. And don’t get me started on the right wing, they’re the worst, they’re working the refs 24/7, believing if they chide you for every liberal remark, you’ll stop making them, and, unfortunately, this tends to work. As a result, everybody’s afraid to color outside the lines, to not be liked. You have to be the person everybody wants you to be, as opposed to yourself.

That’s why I now love Sedaris, he’s only interested in being himself.

He’s narcissistic, he wants to win in his own way, he articulates everything we feel but are afraid to verbalize.

He doesn’t like mics in the audience during the Q&A, because he hates the people they elicit. Oh, you know these jerks, who want the attention, who ramble on telling their personal stories and put you down, who frequently don’t even have a question. No, that’s Sedaris’s mic, and you can’t have it!

And he’s pissed at the bookstore owner who ended the reading. That’s HIS right, he decides when it’s over. Furthermore, he tells an employee that he hated the store owner’s action and is gleeful when the store goes out of business. These are the things we all feel but are afraid to say, for fear we’re going to pay a price down the line.

The idiot business books tell you how to conform.

But artists don’t believe in conforming, they channel the truth. Getting along is for drones, not artists.

I’m drawn closer to Sedaris because he has a PERSONALITY!

Few of the new artists have one. At least not one they evidence. They’ve been told they can’t offend radio, the press, everybody in the media chain. But what sells Sedaris is his readers, not the intermediaries. His fans can’t stop talking about him.

And we live in a different era from the one Crenshaw had his “success” in. Warner didn’t like his second album, he told him they had to put it out anyway, and he was forever tarred. Furthermore, when a local distribution guy got a track on the radio, the promo guy in Burbank wouldn’t work it, it was all politics. And who knows, the WB people might have a contrary opinion, but the point is today the slate has been wiped clean, you can go direct to the audience, if you’ve got the balls.

Or do you want to keep working for the man?

That’s how Maron made it, by doing it for himself.

And the reason this interview with Sedaris is so damn good is because Marc knows the territory. Of being on the road, of working your way up via performance, his anecdotes add flavor.

But Sedaris’s tales are still the best…

Why did he give up smoking? To stay in the best hotels! Yup, at this point his hotels are all comped, he’d rather stay at the Four Seasons than some dive on the outskirts of town that still allows people to take a puff.

Sedaris is a barrel of quirks and opinions, and when you listen to him you desire nothing so much as to hang out, because he’s entertaining, because he’s honest, because he’s real…just like you.

David Sedaris

Marshall Crenshaw

Cheech and Chong

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