The mean streets of New York City are no laughing matter these days — even for famed satirist David Sedaris.
The Upper East Sider who wrote his way to fame with bestsellers like “Naked” and “Me Talk Pretty One Day,” chose to remain in the Big Apple when the pandemic hit, bearing witness to Gotham’s descent.
“Normally in New York one out of every 200 people you pass is crazy. Now it felt more like one out of every two,” he writes in his latest collection of personal essays, “Happy-Go-Lucky,” which hit bookstores on May 31.
Sedaris would gather material for the book on walks around town, preferably in the wee hours.
“I started going out after midnight and taking walks because I felt like I didn’t have to wear a mask after midnight,” he told The Post this week. “This was a time where you had to wear a mask on the street. And I thought, ‘Well, I’m not running into anybody so I don’t see why I have to wear a mask.’”
Not every encounter was fit for print.
There was a night last summer at Park Avenue and East 72nd Street when a stranger got a little too close for comfort.
“There was a woman on the corner. She said, ‘You want some nice, tight p—y?’”
“And she said, ‘Give me some of that d–k,’ and she grabbed my penis.
“And I said, ‘I’m gay!’
“She said, ‘I’ll f–k you up the a– then!’
“And I thought, ‘With what?’”
Another “unsettling” brush with a stranger came on Seventh Avenue in the West 50s.
“Just when he got next to me, just when we were face to face, he reared back his fist and made to punch me in the face,” Sedaris said.
“And then a fraction of an inch from my jaw, his fist froze and then moved into slow motion and just grazed my chin.”
The humorist got serious when he spoke about the misguided approach the city has taken towards the mentally ill.
“This is a real problem in New York City and you’re not doing anybody any favors by saying, ‘Look, you’re free to defecate on the street and take a nap on the sidewalk.’ They deserve to be treated better and they need to be in a facility. The street’s not the place for them,” the 65-year-old said. “It’s heartbreaking.”
The prolific author, who has penned 13 books — three of which were released during the pandemic — attempted to write a story about this issue, but thought better of it, realizing readers might say, ‘You’re blaming the victim.’
Sedaris, a Raleigh, NC native who moved to Manhattan in 1990, hasn’t given up on mass transit either.
“The thing is, if a mentally ill person pushes you in front of the train it’s nothing personal … but you’re still dead,” he said.