Tag Archives: David Sedaris

Holland Taylor brings Ann (back) to the Paramount


On one of her many visits to the Paramount, Ann Richards asked me if she could go backstage to meet Bob Newhart.  Well that would be up to Bob…  Ann laughed at me and said, “Just tell him I am here, Ken.”

Bob, of course, wanted to see her.  They spent about 30 minutes laughing and sharing stories before Ann left.  The next – and last – time I saw Ann she was heading backstage to say hello to her friend David Sedaris.  Ann was a subscriber, donor and a friend.  I miss her.

I first met Ann Richards while I was in college.  She gave the keynote speech at my graduation when she was the Texas Treasurer.  I had no idea that our paths would cross again, but they did several more times.  She was a donor to the Austin Children’s Museum where I worked when I first came to Austin.  She was also very involved with Planned Parenthood where I worked before coming to the theater.   Each time I saw her I would stupidly find a way to remind her (again and again) that she spoke at my graduation.  She finally told me that I could stop telling her that because not only did she remember but “now you are old enough that it’s not really nice to remind me.”

This week Ann comes to the Paramount as a character created by Two and Half Men’s  Holland Taylor.  I can’ t wait to see her again.


David Sedaris at 1 AM

There are certain benefits to my job.  Introducing David Sedaris to his steadfast fans would be one of them.  Tonight  we presented David to a sold out crowd – not at the Paramount where there are too few seats to contain his popularity – but at the larger Long Center for the Performing Arts.  I told the crowd of 2,300 that David is not only Box Office Gold, he seems to be recession proof.

After the show David told me that he wished he was recession proof in other cities.  It seems Austin has weathered the current economic storm pretty well.  Think about it.  We could just buy his books to read.  We could even buy his books on tape and hear David reading them himself.  But in Austin, 2,300 people are able to still afford the ultimate luxury – to have David personally read his books to us.  It’s good to live in Austin.

But back to that great job of mine.  I stayed with David after the show for his book signing.  Now if you have never experienced a David Sedaris book signing event, you are really missing out.  David is extremely generous with his time.  He doesn’t just sign the books and move on.  He spends significant time with each eager fan… never rushing… patient to the bitter end.  And tonight that bitter end was 1:00 AM.

To some people, sitting around while David signs books for 4 hours might not sound exciting.  But David doesn’t just sign books.  He interviews his readers.  He tells jokes and shares stories.  It was like watching one of his books come to life.

He remembered one couple from last year and then discovered that they had come to his show each year for three years.  He gave them his email address and told them, “Your days of paying for tickets to see my shows are over.”

Tonight he asked each patron what kind of animal they would like him to draw in their book(s).  An owl.  A horse.  A dog.  And to one, “This is a cat that ate a bird and then licked its butt.”

One young lady was asked by David, “Did you come alone tonight?”  She replied that her boyfriend had gotten tired of waiting  and went to Hooters across the street leaving her behind to wait in line to get his book signed.  “What?” exclaimed David.  “He went to Hooters?  You have the wrong boyfriend.  Did he hit you today too?  What kind of animal should I draw in his book?  Is there an animal that ditches their girlfriend?”

To the next woman in line he said,  “The girl before you had a boyfriend who went to Hooters and left her to wait in line.  Don’t you think she has the worst boyfriend?” 

The young lady was taken back by the question, “I don’t know. I’ve never met her boyfriend.  But Hooters has decent fried pickles.”

“Wow”, said David. “I was expecting something along the lines of that’s a terrible boyfriend.  I never expected your answer would be that Hooters has decent friend pickles.  I mean the very concept is an oxymoron.  Decent fried pickles is like a good genocide.  There is no such thing.  What animal would you like me to draw?”

As he mentioned in his talk, he gave condoms to any teenagers in line.  To the girls he would say, “Use this only for anal sex because I don’t want to be responsible for you losing your virginity. “  To the young men he would say, “Now if the girl gives you any trouble about anal sex.  You tell her that David Sedaris said it was OK.”  Most of the teens then asked him to autograph the condom… which he did.   AS a side note, he mentioned that his agent had gotten an irate letter from a mother.  “Surely they know I am joking.”

And so on into the night it went.  “Hi. What’s your name?   Where do you live?  Is that a tatoo?   Here’s a condom. What kind of animal would you like me to draw in your book?” 

But what is amazing about David Sedaris is that at 1:00 AM – after a 90 minute show and 4 hours of book signing – David was still as funny and gracious with the last person in line as he had been with the first.

His new book comes out this October.   Buy it at BookPeople.  Read it.  And then come back next year so David can read it to you before drawing a picture in it.



DO NOT READ THIS POST if you don’t like or otherwise have issues with filthy words…

David Sedaris survived the hotel fire in Dallas and made it to Austin safe and sound.  To my knowledge his hotel stay in Austin was uneventful.   His show, on the other hand, was not.

David’s popularity in Austin has grown over the years to the extent that hosting him at the Paramount is no longer an option.  We just don’t have enough seats.   The PAC and Long Center were not available on the date he wanted to be in Austin so we rented Riverbend Church with its 2,300+ seats and crossed our fingers  (if not ourselves) and hoped that the idea of presenting David in a church wouldn’t be too odd for his fans.  Turns out, not an issue.   The show was sold out.

Now introducing celebrities like Carol Burnett, Shirley Maclaine, Hal Holbrook and Lyle Lovett at the Paramount has been a surreal experience for me as I do not have an arts background and never aspired to be in the entertainment business.  That said, never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine I would be standing in Riverbend Church introducing David Sedaris. And even though my Programming Director, Lietza Brass, assured me that the church was well aware of who would be “preaching from the pulpit”, I remained skeptical about whether or not the microphone would be cut off and the house lights brought up to end the show prematurely.

David, as usual, wowed the crowd, but he didn’t seem phased by being in a church.   Fuck, shitter, asshole and other David Sedaris favorites words were in good supply.  After the lecture, David did tell me that he had changed his presentation a bit out of respect and instead gave his “clean” version.    Really David?   Really?  Because you used the word  “cockmaster” so I am curious what your filthy version sounds like?

David, ever generous with his fans, stayed until midnight signing books. On the car ride back to his hotel he asked if I could take him to a fast food place so we went to the only one I knew was still open – Taco Cabana at Lamar and Riverside.  Something tells me a fire of anther type happened in his hotel room here in Austin because I convinced him to order the Super Mexican Dinner with a Banana Chiller. 

While waiting in the drive-through lane I asked him if he was surprised by his popularity.    “Shocked,” he said.  “I just don’t understand it at all.”

David heads on to Detroit next as part of his 30 cities in 30 days tour where sold out venues await him in almost every city.


The Adolphus hotel in downtown Dallas evacuated its guests this morning after a fire broke out in the basement.

Why blog about this?

Because that is the hotel where David Sedaris is staying in Dallas and he is due in Austin tonight for a show.   I hear he is OK but we may have to buy him a change of clothes when he gets here. Stay tuned….

Sorry I haven’t been blogging…

We’re getting ready for our annual gala this Saturday. Sold out!!! Kris Kristofferson on stage. Biggest, hottest live and silent auctions in our history. Can’t wait… until Sunday when I can sleep! In the meantime, check out our new season featuring Carol Burnett, kd lang, Maya Angelou, Lily Tomlin, David Sedaris, Mo Rocca, Ruben Studdard and more…

Engulfed in flames…

when-you-are-engulfed-in-flames-hardcover-small.jpg vanessa-hudgens.jpg

…would never want to hear that expression linked with the Paramount unless it refers to the new book, When You Are Engulfed In Flames, from David Sedaris

David Sedaris will be coming to Austin as part of our 2008-09 Season.  I love all of his books but my favorite is his first book, Barrel Fever. He has gotten so popular that he can no longer be contained in the 1,300 seats of the Paramount. But he loves us and our long history with him, so he gave us the opportunity to find a larger space to present his show.  Can you guess where?  Hint: he couldn’t be contained by a series either even if the series is called The Congress Avenue Series at the Paramount. The picture above is a sneak peek at his new book cover.  The new book is titled When You Are Engulfed In Flames. I cannot wait.  David is really a nice guy.  Each year I enjoy spending time with him back stage and am always amazed at his willingness to sign books no matter how long the line gets… and the lines get very long when he comes to town.

IFC.com  covered SXSW on-line this year, and before the festival they toured the theatre.  In the second half of this clip you can see me talking to them about our haunted projection booth. 

Another Disney connection – Vanessa Hudgens of High School Musical fame was at the Paramount for the premiere of 21.  Had no idea… thank goodness my daughter doesn’t know that I missed the opportunity to meet (and introduce her to) the actress from the absolutely greatest, most awesome movie ever made!!!

End of the season…

The 2006-2007 Season came to an end on Friday, May 18 with an incredible performance by Mavis Staples for our 91st Anniversary Gala Celebration.  Below are a few treasured moments from the season.

Ann Archer and Terry JastrowCyndi Lauper on the seatsAnn Richards

We dedicated this past season to Gov. Ann Richards who had been a long-time patron and donor to the Paramount.  The picture above  is actually from two seasons ago when I took Ann backstage to meet Bob Newhart after his sold-out show.

 Top Ten Moments from the 2006-2007 Season

10.   Turns out Academy Award nominated actress, Anne Archer, is married to Kenny Jastrow’s brother, Terry Jastrow…or something like that.  Anyway it was great to have her at our Paramount Spotlight Award ceremony honoring patron and donor Kenny Jastrow which raised over $150,000 for the theatres.

9. Cyndi Lauper bringing down the house and standing on the chairs in Orchestra Center row C

8.   The Dixie Chicks winning 5 Grammy’s…OK not part of the season but man that was cool…and they did come to see Bill Maher at the Paramount (but his show didn’t make this list due to that really bad joke about Michael Jackson…man that was bad.. but then again I was still trying to get over what Quentin Tarantino was doing with his date two seats over.)

7. Steven Tomlinson announces that his play, American Fiesta, which was commissioned by the State Theatre Company, was on its way to New York.

6. Burt Bacharach reminding us that he has written pretty much every song ever sang… but maybe he should continue to let others sing them.

5. Judith Ivey making a one woman show look like the work of 12 women.

4. The kids from East Austin’s Keys for Life Program meeting legendary jazz artist, Ramsey Lewis, backstage at the Paramount.

3. Matthew, Mark, Luke, Juan and Abraham…but especially Mark…oh yeah and Luke.. the Altar Boyz!

2. Dave Barry blowing up a whale. (tied with Roberta Flack not being on the season again this year – I wanted to blow her up last year!)

And the number one moment…

1. David Sedaris explains the real story about Zombies by talking about the Zombies in the movie Grindhouse which, just by chance, premiered at the Paramount.  By the way, I still think the funniest book ever written is David’s Barrel Fever.

Coming Soon – Kathy Griffin at the Paramount on July 20th.