‘The Santaland Diaries’ by Anne Tsang

When I was first introduced to David Sedaris in college, I was hooked from the first word by his sardonic humor. The Santaland Diaries, chronicles his adventures (or should I say mis-adventures?) as an elf working in Macy’s Santaland. The show, adapted by Joe Mantello, directed by Matty Griffiths, and starring the comedic genius Joe Brack, had me in stitches from word one.

Brack, as Sedaris, is 33 years-old, unemployed, and so desperate for a job that he applies to become an elf at Santaland. It was either elf or a hot dog passing out flyers on a street corner. He takes us on a hilarious journey, filled with his own special brand of witty sarcastic commentary as he applies and interviews for the job, goes through training, and begins working as Crumpet elf at Santaland. I couldn’t help but laugh as he describes the various parts of Santaland — the “Oh My God Corner,” where parents, upon seeing the long lines exclaims “Oh My God” or the Great Tree, or the Magic Window, or the Vomit Corner, where exhausted, overexcited children often “upchucked” their last meal. This was especially vivid and amusing to me as I recalled the year I was about 5 or 6 and we went to Macy’s Herald Square Santaland for our yearly visit and pictures with Santa. We had just eaten dinner, and I had on this adorable wool dress, and it was really, really hot in the line, and I, uh, heaved my dinner. Thanks, Joe/David for making me realize I wasn’t the only kid to ever do that!

Left – Joe Brack Right: Danny Cackley. Photo by Jack N. Benstock.

The audience was laughing, gasping, shaking their heads at all of the stories about his co-workers at Santaland or the adults who came through Santaland, like the woman who threatened to have Crumpet fired for telling her the line with all of the women in it, was the line for the women’s bathroom, or the parents who smacked their children around, or the elf Snowball, who inadvertently flirted with several of the men at Santaland.

Joe Brack, directed by Matty Griffiths, has performed the show for several years nd this year, there is an interesting addition to the show. The role of Sedaris/Crumpet elf is actually split between Brack and foley Danny Cackley. Brack does most of the narrating while Cackley, dressed as Crumpet, does the sound effects and acts out some of the descriptions being read by Brack. Joe Brack’s effortless satirical demeanor and magnetic storytelling is enchanting and engaging. Danny Cackley’s sound effects had me laughing at all the right moments, and his actions as Crumpet were endearing. The timing between Brack and Cackley was spot on.

Santaland Diaries is fantastically hilarious, loveable, and appealing! So if you’re ready for a good laugh or you are just tired of all of the cheeriness and sweetness of the holiday season, then go check out The Santaland Diaries — its not to be missed!

Running Time: 90 minutes with no intermission.

Santaland Diaries runs Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays through December 23, 2012 at Redrum @ Fort Fringe – 612 L St NW, in Washington, DC. Purchase tickets online or reserve them and pay cash at the door (no service charge).


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Anne Tsang
Anne is a self proclaimed theater nut and lover of live music. She once spent 8 hours, non-stop, at a theater festival. watching a series of plays--you have to be a nut to be able to do that! Anne's first love in theater are Broadway musicals and she has an uncanny luck in winning lottery tickets for the shows! Anne also loves all forms of live music and is always amazed and touched by the energy of a great show. Anne also loves to travel and is fascinated by food and often combines the loves in her life--theater, music, food--with travel to new destinations and has been to performance venues around the world. What better way to share her enthusiasm and love for all things theater and music than to write for DCMetroTheaterArts? She can't wait to start sharing her observations with you!


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