Many people have asked me, “What is The Book of Liz?” My answer has become, “It’s a play about cheese balls.” I then receive quizzical looks. I then add, “It’s by Amy Sedaris and David Sedaris.” And in response I often get a knowing, smirk of a grin. Those who love these siblings are quite fond of the unique Sedaris voice that blends dry humor, quick wit, and satirical observation.
Fueling that great humor is great heart. After the rolls of laughter that regularly occur from encountering a Sedaris play or piece of writing (or interview, for that matter), there is something that stays with us, the nearly inexplicable quality that defines great comedy. As George Meredith wrote in An Essay on Comedy, “The test of true comedy is that it awakens thoughtful laughter.” The Sedaris siblings’ brand of comedy passes that test.
The many characters of the Sedaris siblings’ creations are deeply flawed (or “but flawed” as Reverend Tollhouse says). But despite the many foibles of each character (including themselves in the case of David’s writings), there is a universal emotional core which allows us to laugh with them rather than at them. At the core of the title character in The Book of Liz is the need to feel appreciated. She asks Sister Butterworth and, in effect, asks us: “Do you ever get the feeling that you’re not being appreciated?” Liz must find her answers and we are prompted to find our own, thoughtfully. The play, after all, is about much more than cheese balls.
The Book of Liz by The Talent Family, Amy Sedaris and David Sedaris performs July 10, 11, 17, 18, 24 & 25 outdoors at the Old Stone House, Park Slope Brooklyn. For directions and more information, visit The Book of Liz Website.