Dan Klarer Stars in TAP’s Production of “Santaland Diaries”

Dan Klarer plays an elf working at New York City’s Macy’s around the holidays. Photo by Len Villano.

“This show is kind of nuts,” admits actor Dan Klarer, who will perform his first one-man show, Santaland Diaries, dressed in a yellow turtleneck, candy-cane leggings, and a perky, spangled stocking cap. The production – recommended for mature audiences – will play throughout the month of December at the Third Avenue Playhouse in Sturgeon Bay.

“There’s nothing like this type of show in Door County,” says Klarer. “It’s hard to find this kind of comedy unless you go to a big city.”

Written by humorist David Sedaris, the play reflects on his true experiences working as an elf in New York City’s Macy’s. “He’s low on money, needs a job, and decided being an elf is his last ditch effort to make money,” explains Klarer, who describes his character as ‘cynical,’ ‘condescending,’ and ‘sarcastic.’

“[Sedaris] really isn’t a good person, but he’s so charming,” says Klarer.

The play features a series of humorous, sometimes vulgar and shocking, stories. “He tells about mothers screaming at their children and kids vomiting,” says Klarer. “Screaming, nauseous children and the craziness of the holidays at Macy’s in New York City – that’s what this show is about.”

Best known to Door County audiences for his work with American Folklore Theatre, Klarer admits to often being cast as “the loveable best friend, which is great,” so taking on this role presented a welcome challenge to the seasoned actor.

“I’m a character actor,” says Klarer, whose areas of expertise include sketch comedy and clowning, “but in [Santaland Diaries] I have to play myself, which is the hardest thing, I think, for an actor to do. I have to put myself in it. I’m playing David Sedaris, but I have to relate to the situations he comes across. I have to think, how would I react to this and what does David say in the script. So, if I’m sitting there and a grown man coming to see Santa pees on my lap, what would I do? Or if I see a woman slap her sobbing child, how would I react?” Klarer considers those variables, what Sedaris says in the script, and “pieces the two together,” he explains.

As Klarer’s character recalls the often-appalling scenes he witnesses (or participates in) during his time at Santaland, key individuals he encounters are also presented to the audience through Klarer. “There’s a lot of mothers,” says Klarer.

To set the scene, Klarer says Director Robert Boles went with the concept of “Christmas throw-up all over the stage. We tried to put as much Christmas stuff on the stage as we could.”

“Have you ever been to Macy’s in New York?” asks Klarer. “Being to New York is one thing, but being to New York in Macy’s during Christmas in Santaland is nuts. I’ve been there, I’ve seen Santaland and it’s crazy!”

As the audience watches the situations unfold, “Hopefully they will be with me on the reaction of, ‘Oh my gosh, I can’t believe what that person just did!’”

Photo by Len Villano.

Santaland Diaries will play Dec. 7 – Dec. 31, Thursdays – Sundays (with some exceptions.) Tickets are $15 for general admission and $10 for students. For more information or to purchase tickets, stop by the box office located at 239 North Third Avenue, call 920.743.1760, or visit