A few have recently tried politics but most elves find their niche within the broad category of seasonal employment. And since retailers are now not-so-subtly hinting that the holidays are upon us, it is not surprising to find old pal Crumpet again getting himself all wound up at the Studio Theater of the Portland Stage Company.

For a third season, the company is presenting David Sedaris’ silly and sardonic theater piece, “The Santaland Diaries.”

Adapted by Joe Mantello, the comic piece is based on Sedaris’ own experiences working as one of Santa’s helpers at Macy’s in New York City. 

This 75-minute show, intended for adults, gets at many of the small and large irritations, indignities and hypocrisies that make this time of year so special.

Portland Stage regular Dustin Tucker, a standout in the PSC mainstage production of “The 39 Steps” earlier this season, returns as the disgruntled actor who recounts the trials and tribulations of taking a job as a full-time department store elf.

It was obvious at Friday night’s performance that Tucker continues to enjoy the role. 

He traversed the show’s many ins and outs with a natural comic’s grace, always in the service of a mischievous wit. Vocal variations and highly expressive facial configurations make his Crumpet irresistible as he profiles the many strange and difficult encounters he has with a diverse public anxious to meet Santa (and get it over with).

Director Daniel Burson and his staff have set the stage as a combination changing and break room where Crumpet dons his colorful costume and begins his days of “forced merriment.” Occasional dimming of the lights allows the solo performer a chance to pause and reload with another anecdote about the various absurd elements of commercial elfhood.

Some of the pop-cultural and technological references have become a bit dated in this 1996 piece and political correctness may sometimes seem to have taken a brief holiday.

But the basic idea that the world may have lost sight of the essential meaning of the season in favor of a manic, going-through-the-motions consumerism is what makes the show resonate beyond its substantial comedy.

Sedaris and his elf want to believe that the magic is still there. Through the wonderfully twisted work of Dustin Tucker, Santaland ultimately tries to point to something still truly wonderful about “the most wonderful time of the year.” 

Steve Feeney is a freelance writer who lives in Portland.