Arts & Entertainment, Writing

Observing the World

David Sedaris

Lesson time 16:38 min

David teaches you how to ask better questions, let stories land in your lap, and not ruin the moment when an idea for a story is unfolding before you.

Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars

Topics include: Ask Better Questions • Say "Yes" to Weird Experiences • Don't Ruin the Moment • Let People Expose Their True Selves


SUBJECT: If you're tuned in, life feels like a story. I was in Australia. And I was with Hugh, my boyfriend, and I was with this Australian friend of mine. And we were riding in the car to a little town called Daylesford. And we got to Daylesford and we were having lunch in this restaurant. And there was a kookaburra, the bird, out on the porch of the restaurant. And a server said, oh, do you want to feed him? And then took me outside and gave me some raw duck meat and I fed this kookaburra. And it just felt like a story to me. Like, sometimes your life feels like a story. I went to-- I was in London buying a taxidermied owl, and all of a sudden my life felt like a story. I was at this beach house that we have with my family. And my dad was wearing, like, a Cherokee headdress and my life felt like a story. And you have to kind of be tuned in, but every now and then your subject comes just right to you and sits in your lap. And if you're awake, you think, wow, there it is, right there-- the thing to write about. And there's nothing better, nothing better, than when it comes and sits in your lap like that. And you can pretty much guarantee that if you're sitting at home and you're just online all day, and then you leave your house and you're walking down the sidewalk and you're texting to your friends, and then you go to the grocery store and you continue to text while you're in the grocery store, that nothing's going to come and sit in your lap. You need to be in the world and you need to be engaged with the world. And every now and then it comes, it comes to you. And it doesn't have to be a big thing. It doesn't have to be, we were in a car accident. It doesn't have to be, you know, your father is rushed to the hospital with appendicitis. It can just be as small as feeding a bird on the other side of the world, or buying a piece of taxidermy. But again, you have to be open and you have to be, you have to be able to recognize it when it's given to you. How's your morning going so far? How was your trip in? Got any big plans for the weekend? These are questions. If it's a question you've heard in a hotel or a store, forget it. There's no place to go with those questions. Those are small talk questions. I like a question like, do you know many people in wheelchairs? Good question, right? And if people say no, I always say, well, do you have a ramp in front of your house? Do you know a lot of doctors is a good question, because sometimes that can get people to say, well, I had appendicitis last year, or yeah, I just had a c-section. I met a man, he was-- I never learned to drive a car, so he was driving me. I was on a tour and he was driving me from one place to the next. And I said, have you ever run for office? And he said, I can't believe you asked me that. He said, I ran for judge 20 years ago in my town. Why do you ask? Why did you ask me that question? And I don't know, I'd never asked anybody that questi...

About the Instructor

With essays in The New Yorker, bestselling books like Calypso, tours, and readings on NPR, David Sedaris is one of the most recognizable essayists alive. Now he teaches you the art of personal storytelling. Learn how David crafts attention-grabbing openings, satisfying endings, and meaning from the mundane—and how he uses humor to connect with others and process the difficult and sometimes dark aspects of everyday life.

Featured MasterClass Instructor

David Sedaris

NYT–bestselling author David Sedaris teaches you how to turn everyday moments into seriously funny stories that connect with audiences.

Explore the Class
Sign Up