American humourist, author, essayist and comedian David Sedaris is probably best known to Radio 4 listeners for a series of broadcasts of material taken from his books, which have sold in their millions. To the rest of the population he is less well known.

Words that orbit his world include sardonic, witty, quirky, pre-eminent, storyteller, self-deprecating, observant and satire – and given that real satire is such a scarce commodity on our stages these days it would seem churlish not to see him in action.

The New Yorker, who now lives in West Sussex, is also known as ‘Pig Pen’ because he dons a headlamp and has a proclivity for litter picking around the lanes near his home, and even had a council waste vehicle named after him.

But the clincher was his book titles. Anyone who would dare to go with ‘Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls’ is an instant winner in my, er, book. Further investigation reveals ‘Dress Your Family In Corduroy and Denim’, ‘When You Are Engulfed In Flames’ and ‘Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk: A Modest Bestiary’.

So, what’s not to like?

However, the true test for multi-Grammy nominated, Sedaris was whether he could make a notoriously difficult-to-please Dorset audience crack a smile.

He ambled on stage, slightly late, the bar had been busy – the concert hall was nearly full – a slight man wearing an oversized jacket in a wide stripe of pastel blue, with matching long, baggy shorts. Not necessarily haute couture.

He stood behind a lectern, angled slightly to the left, the only prop being a bottle of water; the rest of the stage hidden behind a black curtain as if this were the Royal Variety Show and it was being prepared for circus acts or a middling pop group favoured by the royals.

He spoke, a high-pitched, soft voice, definitely New York, rather like Woody Allen, who he also somewhat resembled. The audience hushed, intent on catching every word as he proceeded to read from his books.

His wide-ranging essays, sharply-observed tales of everyday life in which every incident, accident, hint or allegation (to misquote another New Yorker) is a rich seam of material to be mined continuously.

He spoke of his sister Amy, the actress and co-judge with him once of Ru Paul’s Drag Race (not the kind with cars and parachutes, he hastened to add), his partner Hugh Hamrick, his steadying rock, it would appear, with whom he lives near Horsham, and his late father, the hateful Lou who died last year aged 98.

Things happen to Sedaris, things that may not happen to you or me. Does he naturally attract trouble, strife and weirdness, does he go looking for it or is it simply his skill to turn the most mundane happening into a grand occasion?

He spoke about never looking in to his mouth because of his summer teeth (some are here, some are there), his awkward, possibly creepy offer to pay for dental work for the poorly-gnashered ‘clerk’ at a charity shop (because he could and it was a good deed) and spending $14,000 on braces and implants for himself, only for Hugh to say he preferred him before he had the work done.

Sedaris spoke about a near-mugging incident while he was out walking at 2am in New York during lockdown which turned into an altercation with a woman in the lobby of an apartment block in which neither lived. It was funny, believe me, but unrepeatable.

He told a tale of being upgraded to the presidential suite at a hotel and nearly being taken for $80 for ‘car repairs’ by a stranger in a lift. He spoke of race, covid, gayness, Trump (of course) expensive underwear and much more before coming up with a series of one-line anecdotes from his latest diary – the botoxed woman who remained expressionless in the dock when the verdict was read out – and a joke about a boy and a train set, which is possible the funniest I’ve heard in a long while. Again, not repeatable.

Sedaris, set to record another Radio 4 series next January, became noticeably ruder and funnier as the short and sweet sub 90-minute performance (lecture?) went on. The audience lapped it up. The only time he faltered was during the Q&A at the end, which caused him to think on the spot rather than rely on the written word.

You might say it’s money for old rope to simply turn up, read from your book and expect people to pay £30 for the pleasure. But you have to have painstakingly created that old rope in the first place and that’s where Sedaris, rather like Bill Bryson, is a master. The only British equivalent is maybe Craig Brown, and I haven’t seen him on tour recently. We just don’t really ‘do’ essayists.

It’s also a chance for uber-fans, of which there were a few, to get up close and personal after the show. The book signing area was done up like a Disneyland queue to cope with demand and he was there to do his duty seconds after he left the stage.