George Carlin need only be heard to be appreciated. You remember him pacing and gesturing as he crouched on the stage, delivering rapid-fire, surgical observations on the follies of humankind. Maybe it's his early days in radio, but the voice is among the most expressive anywhere. He leaps from rage to rant to sotto voce, from lecturing to confiding, as he plays a whole range of the characters who populate his wildly imaginative essays. You could listen to him for hours--and you will. Along the way you'll remember that Carlin was never just a comic. He was an articulate, informed, educated, and always opinionated eyewitness to the human condition. Hilarious and off-color, of course, but he covers an awful lot of ground in this collection, and really makes you think.
The thing about a David Sedaris reading, even at Carnegie Hall, is that he stands behind a podium and reads. It's not a physical performance, per se, so listening to the recording is about as good as the experience of being there. And that is very good indeed. Sedaris delivers a largely deadpan reading of hilarious and insightful material, from true family stories to wild fantasies. Audiences are in stitches from start to finish, and you will be, too. Although it's difficult to choose, this is some of his very best work.
Presented as an introductory guide to a vanished human race for the benefit of visiting aliens, "Earth" is a perceptive, tightly written, awfully clever survey of mankind's whole history. It's especially good at leaving unsaid the best punchlines, which immediately form in the listener's mind. With help from others, it is nonetheless mostly the voice of Jon Stewart who--freed from the rather more frantic persona of his TV show--is a skilled and expressive narrator. It's a joy to hear.
My previous experience with David Sedaris' work was When You Are Engulfed in Flames, and after a few months my memory of it was that it was good. After having spent some time on other types of books, I was ready for a few laughs and thought I'd try another of David Sedaris' books.
In this book he again related his personal experiences, most of which were filled with angst. I didn't get to smile or laugh much during this audio book because the stories weren't funny, but they were great 'human experience' stories.
A few were disturbing and I couldn't relate to them because of certain belief systems I am currently operating under. I had a knot in my gut while listening to him recall the teenage boy slumber party with strip poker where another teenage boy had to sit on his lap naked. Or his recollections of panhandling as a teen in order to buy things. And, the story of the elevator ride with the young boy was too long and again full of angst.
So, the stories are great, but maybe not for everyone. And, this is certainly not one to buy if you are looking for cheerful and funny comedy to lighten your heart.
For that I would recommend some of Patrick McManus' story telling. Even though I have no interest in hunting or fishing, his stories are funny and clean and leave me with a positive feeling. After listening to Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim, I didn't feel clean or happy or lightened, just the opposite.