E1S1 David Sedaris

David Sedaris––one of the best-known American humor writers and radio personalities––has written extensively about his time in France. No one skewers the French like he does. He's written about our language, especially our weird gendered words, living in a village in Normandy, and shopping at unusual Parisian boutiques. He came to my apartment one afternoon and we talked about his French teacher (15:40), the different types of humor on each side of the Atlantic (2:43), his love for certain French words (16:44), our health care system (25:15), and his dislike for the French habit of kissing (29:57).

Show Notes

The below notes are designed to enrich the listener's experience by further explaining the more obscure French references mentioned throughout the show.

5:14 Charlie Hebdo

David Sedaris and Bénédicte de Montlaur discuss “Charlie Hebdo,” referring to the 2015 terrorist attacks on the French satirical newspaper, Charlie Hebdo.

5:54 Amy Sedaris

David Sedaris briefly mentions his sister, Amy Sedaris, an American actress, comedian, and writer who currently voices the character of Princess Carolyn on Netflix’s BoJack Horseman.  David and Amy have collaborated on a variety of projects together.

7:30 David Sedaris’s French village

The French village David Sedaris refers to is La Bagotière, a tiny village just South of Caen.

13:16 David Sedaris & Japan

Sedaris refers here to the three months that he spent living in Japan.  His time there is detailed in his essay, Quitting Smoking in Japan.

15:45 David Sedaris’s French Lessons

David Sedaris writes about his time in France and his experience learning the language in his collection of essays, Me Talk Pretty One Day.  One of the essays, Jesus Shaves, takes place in the French class he mentioned, as he recounts one class in which the students try to explain (in French) what Easter is to their Moroccan classmate.

 16:42 French words

Around this point in the episode, Sedaris mentions a few French words. Here are the definitions:
assourdissant (adj) - deafening
tronche (nf) - slang for face
type (nm) - slang for man, equivalent of “guy”
branché (adj) - somewhat dated term meaning “with-it,” trendy, or cool

17:29 Diane Johnson

Diane Johnson, born Diane Lain (April 28, 1934) is an American novelist and essayist whose satirical novels often feature American heroines living abroad in contemporary France. She was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for her novel Persian Nights in 1988.

30:48 “Faire la bise”

At this moment, David Sedaris discusses the “bisous,” the French greeting of an air-kiss on each cheek. Depending on the region in France there can be as many as 2 to 5 air-kisses given!