Warren Gerds/Critic at Large: Extra! Thoughts on David Sedaris, author, humorist, commentator, etc.

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Theatre on the Bay in Marinette will present “The Importance of Being Earnest” in its next season.

Wolf River Theatrical Troupe of New London performed “The Importance of Being Earnest” as part of its current season.

St. Norbert College Theatre Studies performed “The Importance of Being Earnest” in a season not long ago.

University of Wisconsin-Green Bay Theatre and Dance performed “The Importance of Being Earnest” in a season not long ago.

David Sedaris appeared Monday night at the Weidner Center for the Performing Arts as part of a speaking and book-signing tour.

Oscar Wilde wrote “The Importance of Being Earnest: A Trivial Comedy for Serious People.” The first performance was Feb. 14, 1895.

Oscar Wilde is famous for his wit.

David Sedaris is famous for his wit – equivalent, but with caveats.

Oscar Wilde died destitute in prison – incarcerated because of the rules of the road, so to speak, of the time.

David Sedaris openly travels his similar road because the rules have been eased greatly.

David Sedaris occasionally uses language and explores topics from the domain of shock comics, the stand-up spewers.

Oscar Wilde would have been hung by his toes.

Today, what you are reading has to be tempered because of rules of the road on this website are for the general public.

Monday night, David Sedaris’s audience of adults generously filled many seats of Cofrin Family Hall, the showcase venue in the Weidner Center.

The place undulated on waves of chuckles, laughs and groans as David Sedaris spoke in his high-pitched voice (that he had jokes about).

The people were readers of David Sedaris’ books or magazine articles, or listeners to his audio books or public radio features, or theater folks who saw his play “The Santaland Diaries” (including at least one attendee who performed the one-man show in Green Bay), or TV viewers who caught his recent debut on “CBS Sunday Morning” as a contributor of whimsical observation.

Oscar Wilde would be doing much the same, if technology – but mostly the climate of society – allowed him.

People back when missed a lot in Oscar Wilde having his wings clipped.

Monday, David Sedaris could say things about the current president of the United States and not be booed or be strung up by his toes. The ha-ha response tipped off where the sympathies of the audience lay.

Monday, some of what David Sedaris let fly was trivial comedy for serious people.

David Sedaris also spoke as a person of conscience – teasing and smart-alecking and grossing out along the way, but often with an aura of, “Hey, there is another perspective here.”

Monday, David Sedaris primarily read from his published work. He offered glimpses of coming work from his diary. In a question session at the end, he display how quick is mind and wit are – stuff just flowing. The guy’s got a gift.

Much of what David Sedaris is remains in his books. For instance, you would have to have read one of his books to know who Hugh is.

Off the cuff Monday, David Sedaris spoke of Hugh. Hugh just Sunday visited their shore spot in North Carolina that was a setting for one of David Sedaris’ stories. The audience learned the place has been trashed by a hurricane.

David Sedaris also mentioned being rich, which doesn’t happen much with authors. Let’s see, he has places in Normandy, Paris, rural England, North Carolina and maybe someplace else. He owns a Picasso piece, rather proudly.

David Sedaris writes of shocking stuff, making his sensitive stuff all the more riveting, as among the audience Monday night. He spoke of his book tour clogging his path to being a dutiful son visiting his failing 95-year-old father in final comfort care. David Sedaris’ audiences will likely hear more about that as his road continues – curving, climbing, plunging and hair-pin turning.

David Sedaris is living a life of “The Importance of Being Earnest” and, unlike Oscar Wilde, being free to do so.  

Contact me at warren.gerds@wearegreenbay.com. Watch for my on-air Critic at Large editions on WFRV-TV at 6:20 a.m. Sundays. My seven books are available in Green Bay at Neville Public Museum and Bosse’s.

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