I’ve felt a certain bond with David Sedaris ever since he almost got me killed. I was driving to work on the 405 freeway, negotiating the South Bay curve on the southbound side, in the fast lane next to the concrete divider (this was before the carpool lane was added — there’s a carpool lane there now, right?). And I was listening to Morning Edition, and they were playing Sedaris reading from The Santa Land Diaries. (I’m linking here to an expanded version of it that was part of a later This American Life episode. It’s a RealAudio stream, which I hate, but in this case it’s worth putting up with the technological suck to get the hilarious content. Sedaris begins at 4:41.)
It was the funniest thing I’d ever heard, and I came fairly close to slamming into the center divider, which would have been interesting, in that I would have made a scuff mark matching the one I’d made on the northbound side shortly after getting my driver’s license a few years earlier. But I guess that’s a story for another time.
One more digression before I get to the actual link this item is about: I finally saw Elf, with Will Ferrell. It was actually pretty good, thanks to (as Adam pointed out in his review at Words Mean Things) Will Ferrell’s complete commitment to selling the joke, at whatever cost.
David Sedaris’ little sister Amy is in the cast of Elf (as Adam also pointed out), and since the movie could well be taken as a riff on Sedaris’ earlier comic mining of his department store elf experience (though they were careful to mix things up by putting Will Ferrell in Gimbel’s, rather than Macy’s), I was alert for any explicit references to The Santa Land Diaries.
And there it was! It came when Ferrell’s Buddy was meeting Zooey Deschanel’s Jovie, as she was decorating the tree. At one point she shoots him a suspicious glance and says, “Did Crumpet put you up to this?” (Crumpet was Sedaris’ elf name at Macy’s.)
Okay. I think I’ve purged most of the mental debris that crowded into my brain when I saw this item by Sedaris in The New Yorker: Old faithful. It’s got nothing to do with elves, or Christmas, but it’s good stuff. Go read it! Thanks.