AT THE DOOR OF A dignified apartment on the Upper East Side: Hugh. Among David Sedaris’s devoted fans, the ones who read his pieces in The New Yorker and make his books best sellers and flocked to the 50-city live tours he did each year before the pandemic paused them, he’s just Hugh—the way Sedaris’s sister Amy (comedian, crafter, all-time-great Letterman guest) is just Amy. David writes sketch dispatches from the Sedaris clan with himself at the center as nebbish-raconteur. He has made his family the main characters of a decadeslong, clearly very profitable, and reliably amusing page-and-stage act. Everyone in Sedaris’s ambit ends up sounding a little bit off-kilter in that very Sedaris way, at least as reported by David. Or at least everyone save one: his boyfriend, Hugh.
Who is Hugh? In Sedaris’s stories, Hugh is a durable background presence. He isn’t kookified, and he doesn’t get the laugh lines. When the kilter needs to be un-offed, he is deployed; he restores order. When the Sedaris family head to North Carolina to clean up their father’s house after his move to assisted living, everyone is stymied by a turd on the carpet left by some untended animal—but not Hugh, who picks it up with his bare hands and disposes of it. “You people, my God,” says Hugh, which is the kind of thing Hugh can be counted on to say. It’s the kind of thing he does say, over and over, in The Best of Me, the greatest-hits collection Sedaris published this month. It’s the reason Sedaris’s nickname for him is Congressman Prude.
Hugh, whose last name is Hamrick, has steel-gray hair and a strong jaw. He ushers me in, past a small framed Charles Addams illustration in the hall and a medium-size Philip Guston painting in the entryway, looking a little spooked. If Sedaris is antic confession, Hamrick is Wasp reserve. In all his years with Sedaris, he has never given an interview. “I feel like David writes about us, and that’s enough,” he says.
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