Behind the Scenes on the David Sedaris Podcast

December 14th, 2010

From the day the first Fear No ART Chicago show aired on May 7, 2010, I have been pursuing David Sedaris for a podcast.  Of course, I never thought he would say yes.  I kept waiting for his literary agent, Marlena, to say, “That’s ridiculous, “ or “We can’t be bothered.”  But from day one Marlena said David was willing to consider it if it could work in his schedule.   I was certain he would cancel at the last moment, but from that positive early kernel in May, I decided to postpone podcasts on the site so that if the David Sedaris interview actually came through, it could be an inaugural podcast.

So, how do you prepare for something that you are so sure will never happen?  How do you prepare when, even if the answer is affirmative, you are certain there will be a last minute apology call, sending regrets to not be able to show? After all, David Sedaris is an internationally acclaimed writer having sold over 7 million books and is currently debuting his 8th, and I am brand spankin’ new at this whole thing called media production.   Who could blame him for cancelling?  Most would say, myself included, that he finally realized what he had agreed to and came to his senses.

I have read all of David Sedaris’ books, so like many people, I felt like I already knew him, laughing along with him for many years.  That took a bit of the edge off, but only slightly.  I mean, the man has done a gazillion interviews, been on David Letterman, and read commencement speeches.  I would appear to him, I feared, as a complete novice, inexperienced and….well, kind of dopey.   And I was afraid that my questions might seem rote given that he had done so many interviews on this book tour, alone.

Plus, I had tech worries.  Having never done a podcast before, I worried that the equipment we rented might fail us, or the sound might not be quality enough.   In short, there was no way that if the interview did go through, that I wouldn’t come off as completely green bumbler.

Yet, lo and behold, David DID come through.  I met him in his suite at the Ritz Carlton and true to his word, he graciously gave me over an hour of his time.  Like in all of his books, he was interesting and funny and pleasant with a sarcastic, yet human edge.  The equipment DID work and when I went to edit a week later, there was more good material than I imagined.

I originally figured I would have a 20 minute podcast, but, in the end the 55 minute interview only whittled down to 43 because there is so much good stuff there.

My greenest moment was when I had him sign his newest book for me, Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk: A Modest Bestiary, right before we left his suite, giving him time to take a bath before his Lincoln Park scheduled book reading. But, despite my fears, things couldn’t have gone too far off course because 10 days after the interview, I received a thank you note in the mail: a first from any of the artists I have interviewed.

Thrilling.  Just thrilling!  I hope you enjoy this inaugural podcast of my interview with famed author, David Sedaris.

-Elysabeth Alfano

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