shouldn't there be a whole website of david sedaris readings?
March 15, 2009 8:06 PM   Subscribe

When I saw David Sedaris in 2007, he told a story about a monotonous college professor who would overaccent the word 'Nicaragua'. Even Wil Wheaton liked it. It was my favorite story of the night, and, as far as I know, it was never published. I guess it wouldn't really lend itself to the written page since the hilarity depends upon Sedaris' imitation of his professor, but does anyone happen to know if the full text has been published or, better yet, if there is some kind of recording of him reading the story? It's not in either the printed or audio versions of When You Are Engulfed in Flames. I did check Google, YouTube, and but to no avail!
posted by Mael Oui to Media & Arts (4 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
There is no avail to be had.

From the Minneapolis Star Tribune:

"Anyone who's read "Me Talk Pretty One Day" knows that David Sedaris is king of the "language-mixup story." At his sold-out appearance Monday at the State Theatre in Minneapolis, the bestselling writer started off with a great new example, an unpublished piece that expanded on his usual French-English mishaps to include Japanese mistranslations and the pretentious use of Spanish. ... One delight of Sedaris is how his stories meander as they amuse. In this one, he mentioned how he moved to Tokyo for three months earlier this year to learn Japanese and, more importantly, to quit smoking. (The change of venue must have helped: He hasn't smoked for nine months.) He soon switched to another place and time, trying to stay awake in a lecture hall as a college art-history professor droned on. Though an English speaker by birth, the prof delights in the "genuine" pronunciation of such words as "Nicaragua" and "El Salvador," complete with heavily rolled R's and dramatic syllabic emphasis."


"Last night, he read an essay that wove together details about pretension, ineptness and fluency when it comes to speaking a foreign language and trying to capture or butcher accents. The story moved back and forth between talking about a college professor who said Nicaragua in an overly accenty way and a friend who visited him in Paris and insisted on speaking in French even though the friend, Sedaris and the friend's wife were all American and the wife didn't speak French. As Sedaris read this story, it was with such gusto and flair I wanted to share it with everyone. Alas, he said that it's not going to be on This American Life, the NPR show that he wrote it for after all. "
posted by MonkeyToes at 4:36 AM on March 16, 2009 [1 favorite]

Maybe you'd have better luck finding video of the old Saturday Night Live sketch he ripped this gag from.
posted by escabeche at 8:15 AM on March 16, 2009

Maybe you'd have better luck finding video of the old Saturday Night Live sketch he ripped this gag from.

An excellent sketch.

But you know, they must have ripped the gag off from me, because in the mid- to late 1980s, I was doing a stand-up routine that included mocking the way French teachers pronounced random French place names and proper names in a tone completely different from their usual speaking voice. ("When we consider the works of Voltaire and Diderot, along with their fellow encyclopedistes--Jessica, are you chewing gum? I said, are you chewing gum?")

Or perhaps Sedaris, whoever wrote that excellent 1990 Saturday Night Live sketch, I, and about a million other people all noticed a frequently-occurring real-life phenomenon independently.

In any case, Mael Oui, Sedaris's books tend to run about two years behind his live stuff. So you may see this in his next collection.
posted by Sidhedevil at 1:28 PM on March 16, 2009

Thanks all! It's so depressing to know I'll probably never hear or read the story again! It was one of the two funniest Sedaris stories I've ever heard. When I googled, I got a load of show reviews. It seems the story was a real hit, so it's a shame that he didn't just stick it on the audiobook.

It wasn't necessarily the originality of the concept that was so funny; it was his unique perspective. I mean, that's the allure of all of his stories.

I doubt it will be published. Most everything else he read ended up being in the last book (or online), so I think if it were going to be printed, it would have happened already. I encourage people to illegally record his readings!
posted by Mael Oui at 8:45 PM on March 16, 2009

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