New Again: David Sedaris

In New Again, we highlight a piece from Interview’s past that resonates with the present. 

Over two decades ago, we interviewed an up-and-coming humorist named David Sedaris about his diary readings. It was before he had even released his first collection of essays, Barrel Fever, in 1994, and we noted Sedaris as “one to watch.” The essayist has come quite a long way since his diary readings of yesteryear, with a slew of best-selling collections, a couple of Grammys, This American Life appearances, and countless New Yorker articles. And now, Sedaris’ essay “C.O.G.,” from his beloved book, Naked, is coming to the big screen at Sundance. “C.O.G.” follows Sedaris’ stint working on an apple farm in Oregon and all of the delightful characters that Sedaris paints using his signature droll sense of humor and outrageous, yet shrewd perspective.

Directed by Kyle Patrick Alvarez, who himself won a “Someone to Watch” award at the 2010 Independent Spirit Awards, C.O.G. stars Jonathan Groff, Denis O’Hare, Corey Stoll, Dean Stockwell, Casey Wilson, and Troian Bellisario. Alvarez is no stranger to adapting short literary works for the big screen—in 2009, he directed Easier with Practice, which was adapted from an article that appeared in GQ. —Carly Wolkoff

Richard Pandiscio’s Ones to Watch

David Sedaris keeps a diary and loves to read it aloud at New York venues like La Mama, the Kitchen, and the Pat Hearn gallery. “I’m a natural North Carolina ham,” says Sedaris, who has more unusual experiences than most to write about in a diary. For three years he worked as a migrant fruit picker (“separating the fancy from the extra-fancy”); after his recent move to New York, he served as one of Santa’s elves at Macy’s. (“I was hired because I’m petite, even though I failed the drug test.”) Sedaris first began reading his diary publicly in Chicago in 1988, as part of Brigid Murphy’s variety extravaganza, “Milly’s Orchid Show.”

Dear Diary… “In the mail I received a video movie guide of new releases. One of the movies is called Never Too Young to Die. The brochure reads, ‘A vicious hermaphrodite wants to control the country and only two people stand in the way. The resulting battles of the sexes will blow your mind with a heady mixture of powerful heavy metal music, state-of-the-art weaponry, martial arts, and espionage that makes this exciting action flick a winner!’ Things are definitely looking up when a hermaphrodite wants to control the country and only two people stand in the way.”


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