Swill Magazine Issue 5 - Out Now

The disparate duo of David Sedaris and Rob McGlade is something to behold. It’s hard to imagine the pair in the same room, let alone on tour across the globe. But they complement each other in a strange and beautiful way.

Myffy Rigby

David Sedaris and Rob McGlade
How do you get the attention of one of the world’s most prominent writers, when your main body of work is a book of free poetry? You give him a hot, soapy shower shot. That’s exactly what Edinburgh-based poet and musician Rob McGlade did at David Sedaris’ Edinburgh show. He now tours as his support poet.

It’s all in the set up.

Rob McGlade takes to the stage in a shiny black Adidas tracksuit, so pale the moon would tan him, with a bright ginger beard and a thick Dublin accent. He delivers exactly seven minutes of poetry in near-staccato. He stalks around with the microphone like he’s on the attack. It’s somewhere between performance art and slam poetry.

(they don’t trust us with vinegar/they think we can’t handle it/they think we only want vinegar in small amounts)

And then David Sedaris lightly walks across the stage in a Japanese linen Comme des Garçons shorts suit, with manila envelope, books, scraps of paper… a live-feed footnote. He gleefully delivers bad news, grim moments and nasty thoughts in his signature lilting tone. Someone in the audience asks Sedaris if he struggled with his father’s recent death. “Well,” he says, taking a strategic sip of water, “my father disinherited me, so I barely think about him at all.” The

room breaks out into peals of laughter.
David Sedaris’s nastiness is an incredible thing to behold.

“That’s the best thing about him,” says McGlade. “He doesn’t give a fuck. I’ll genuinely consider everything I say 100 times before I say it. I wish I could eventually feel like that, but I think I care too much.”

The pair found each other at one of Sedaris’s readings in Edinburgh. McGlade’s partner convinced him to give Sedaris

a copy of his book of poetry, Vinegar, which he’d self-pub- lished. His author photo is him covered in soap suds in the shower. “I was a bit of a bumbling mess. I had his book in one hand, and my book in the other hand,” said McGlade. “But he opened [up my book], looked at the photograph and just started laughing.”

McGlade invited Sedaris to his poetry reading at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, expecting him to say no. Instead, it prompted Sedaris to ask the poet to open for him in Glasgow. “My reaction was ‘fuck off’,” says McGlade. Sedaris appar- ently looked appalled. “In Dublin, that means ‘no way, get out of here’,” he said. “So I had to say, ‘sorry, thank you.Yes.’ He took my email down.”

Cue a full complement of global tour dates. Rob McGlade’s shell suit was going places.

“[David] has the most amazing life really. He’s walking through the halls of the Sydney Opera House, the Melbourne Art Centre, Royal Festival Hall, and he talks to everyone as he goes,” said McGlade. “It’s just such a busy life, and he doesn’t complain once. He’s just incredibly popular worldwide. Who sells out the Sydney Opera House to just read? It’s a real privilege seeing somebody who’s at this level operate. The greatest comedic genius.”

McGlade once asked Sedaris if he’d ever taken a support act on tour before. He said he had, several times, and it was always a complete disaster. “He was just delighted that it worked out,” said McGlade, who is currently working on a second book of poetry.

“Because he didn’t read a single line of my poetry. He just looked at the photo.”

“It’s nice to be right sometimes,” said Sedaris.


This is an excerpt from issue 3 of Swill magazine. Grab your copy today to read the whole thing.


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