Dustin Tucker will be driving around in his car in June and start picking off lines from “The Santaland Diaries.”

“They’re just there,” he says. “All the time. I don’t know if that’s good or bad.”

We’ll take it as a good.

Tucker is back for this year’s run of “The Santaland Diaries,” the saucy, adults-oriented David Sedaris comedy at Portland Stage Company’s studio theater. The show opens Friday and runs through Dec. 19.

Sedaris, a regular voice on public radio, wrote the show about his experiences as a costumed elf at Macy’s. He offers a wickedly cynical, behind-the-scenes look at what it’s really like.

This is the third year Portland Stage has presented the one-man show, and Tucker has done every performance. The role has become his signature.

“I’ll be walking down the street and people will say, ‘You’re the elf.’ That makes me very happy. I love being the elf,” says Tucker.

“I’ve never had a show that has been this big of a hit. It’s gratifying to know that people enjoy it.”

The show runs in tandem with the Portland Stage’s family-friendly “A Christmas Carol” on the mainstage.

Tucker likes this role because it’s pure storytelling. He’s alone on stage in a ridiculous outfit, and gets to vamp for 90 minutes. He tunes in to the particular vibe of each audience, and tailors each performance to the feedback he feels.

Tucker goes through a new set of tights each year, and he and director Dan Burson talk about tweaks here and there. But the script is the same, and the blocking doesn’t change much year to year.

Doesn’t have to, Tucker says. It’s easy to get people to laugh, because Sedaris “is a truth-teller,” he says. “He has a way of speaking the truth that we all feel in the back of our heads.

“The holidays are a very trying time. They’re a wonderful time and a loving time, but they are also a lot of anxiety and stress. ‘Santaland Diaries’ is particularly important because people need to know that everyone is dealing with some anxieties and frustrations. That is why the show works so well. It gives people the chance to sit back and laugh and forget their cares for an hour.”

For several years, Tucker appeared in the mainstage production of “A Christmas Carol.” He’s a member of the Affiliate Artists at Portland Stage.

Tucker has never met Sedaris, and says he would like to. But he definitely would not want Sedaris to see the show. Essentially, Tucker is playing Sedaris on stage, and he said he would feel uncomfortable if he knew Sedaris was in the audience.

“He was in town two years ago doing something at Merrill around the same time,” Tucker said. “I was in a panic: ‘Oh god, I hope he does not come and see it.’ No one can do it justice.”

Staff Writer Bob Keyes can be contacted at 791-6457 or at:

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