It's a nice feeling, being completely in the moment and reeling with joy. More than engrossed in a movie or watching a sunset, there is something about live performance that demands your undivided attention.
Earlier in January I saw Alan Cumming Sings Sappy Songs. What I'm about to write will make me sound a teeny bit stalkery. I adored Alan's book 'Not my father's son' and I follow both Alan and his husband Grant on Instagram. Through social media you do feel weirdly closer to people, especially when the account doesn't seem managed by a marketing team. Alan just seems genuinely lovely.
Watching this wee elfin Scot sing on stage (with Scottish burr intact!) I was swept up in his charm. His anecdotes showed both his cheeky side (check out this internet ad for condoms for example) talking of a misstep during a short and all consuming relationship resulting in a tattoo of his lovers name on his groin. There were also stories relating to his family (a song for both his grand father, who suffered PTSD and father, the violent tormentor of Alan's childhood). There were tears, and not just from Alan. He has the gift of wit, charm and honesty, which draws an audience to him. He can flip between humour and pathos within one sentence. I'm sure he's told all these stories hundreds of times, but they felt fresh and anew for us. A real performers gift.
I was lucky enough to be at a show on the day of Grant and Alan's 9th wedding anniversary. He finished the night with a song he wrote for Grant. I think it sums Alan up perfectly - the blend of laughs and love. Check out Next to Me. Ok, I'll say it - Alan Cumming I love you. Perhaps this is why I'm so jealous that Alan followers Peter on Instagram (thevelvetunderwear)!
The other delight came in the form of David Sedaris. This was my forth time seeing David live, and he seemed in the most playful and joyous mood. Sporting blue with white polka-dots mid-calf length culottes, there was a lightness in his performance. He read a couple of long form pieces, this one on gay marriage was particularly wonderful. The other was from what is becoming a series relating to his family and their beach house - the Sea Section. Do yourself a favour and read them if you have the time. The rest of the show was snippets from his diary entries. Whether sentences or paragraphs, these observations from his day remind you how weird and funny life can be...and when I say 'life' I actually mean people. He announced that this will be the content of his next book. Then it was a Q & A with the audience. Witty, insightful, interesting and hilarious.
There is something both David and Alan have in common. Openess and honesty. Flipping from joy to introspection in an instant. I had face-ache after both performances. So many emotions that my facial muscles got a complete work out. It reminds me of the Dolly Parton quote from Steel Magnolias 'Laughter through tears is my favourite emotion'. This, it would seem is true for me too.
Thank you gentlemen for your stellar company, and letting me lose myself in your talent for a night. They remind me to take a moment, look around and smile. For as crap as life is sometimes, it can also be wonderful. Even just for an evening.
A sneaky shot of Alan thanks to friend Penny from her Instagram account