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April 24, 2007


Mike Daisey

Passionate, hyperbolic, and self-dramatizing?


Yeah, guilty. It's a side-effect of being a monologuist--but I will speak up and affirm that everything I wrote in those posts is the absolute truth as I know it to be.


Alison Croggon

I think it's called storming the moral high ground and taking it by force. Brilliant tactics for the average foul-mouthed liberal atheist.

Big M

My first reaction to this incident was to find the protestors impossibly boorish, and to sympathize 100% with the performer. And certainly pouring water on his papers was WAY over the line. But others have pointed out that: 1) the assumption that this was a "church group" turned out to be false, a function of liberal stereotyping; 2) the reason you see the protestors walking in front of the rest of the audience is because in that theater, that's the only way you can get to the exit; 3) when audience members walk out, for a performer adept at improv to yell after them, challenging them to "dialogue", is a bit bullying; and 4) the leaders of the teenage group had called ahead, and been told the show was perfectly appropriate for kids. Now, maybe on theatre blogs no one raises an eyebrow at taking juveniles to a monologue about fucking Paris Hilton but, as a parent, I found the proposition a bit dicey (though I myself did find the monologue slightly amusing. Slightly.)

In addition, this incident has catapulted a pretty obscure performer onto the radar of probably every regional theatre person in America. My God, he should have paid them!

David Cote

Big M: You seem to be emerging as the calm, confident Histrio commentator of suburban complacency and reactionary contrariety. Congratulations! Actually I think the school should pay Daisey for exposing its delicate charges to invigorating language & ideas, and should fire the teachers & chaperones who behaved worse than children. And the monologue is not about fucking Paris Hilton, that is a momentary metaphor. And your kids hear or will hear worse.

Big M

I live in the big city, but "reactionary contrariety" is accurate enough. Thanks! (Since the artsy left marches in tighter lockstep than the chorus of "Springtime for Hitler," it was an easy position to get.) Is Daisey really the bearer of "invigorating language and ideas?" How our standards fall - and at Harvard, too.

I'm not sure why you want the teachers/chaperones fired - did one of them pour the water? Or is it just for leading the walkout - my God, the left tosses free expression into the wastebasket fast.

I would certainly punish the water-pourer... but then I'm conservative. I think people should be PREVENTED from disrupting things. Order, courtesy and so on are music to my ears. But if I was a booster of transgressive, disruptive, speak-truth-to-power expression, it's hard to see how I would justify such punishment, since that's exactly what these people seem to have done... to Daisey.

David Cote

Yes, one of the chaperones poured the water. Not a good example for the kids. I don't suppose you can fire a chaperone though. And while I may be a fascistic, standards-lowering, lefty thought-policeman, I can tell the difference between transgressive art (which I believe is still possible) and vandalizing a solo performer's set and notes.


a) if not for the water pouring, what is the big deal?

b) did the group pour the water or just one of the chaperones? (I guess I can look at the video...which I did) Can someone tell me, what is point of all this consternation if the water wasn't poured? And is it proper to tie the action of one man in the group to the the group leaving.

c) Mike Daisey is welcome to editorialize on his blog, as David is here (I mean they are their blogs)...but I can think it smacks of the self congratulatory without that being a representation of suburban complaceny.

d)MD can go to as many sites and protest to every individual blog when someone suggests that his material is more in line with stand up comedy rather than monologue...but the only video I've seen is the Paris Hilton bit and ain't Spaulding Gray...sorry It aint even Mind of Mencia.


"1) the assumption that this was a "church group" turned out to be false, a function of liberal stereotyping;"
Not true. People assumed it was a religious group because the leaders of the group said, several times, loudly, in the lobby just after the walkout, "We're a Christian group."

"4) the leaders of the teenage group had called ahead, and been told the show was perfectly appropriate for kids."
Also completely false; "…the box office staff person who spoke with a representative from the school--when asked if the show had appropriate content for high school students, they were told it had strong language and adult situations. There are multiple corroborating witnesses to this phone conversation."

So two of your four points are simply false.

devilvet--There's nothing wrong with good stand-up comedy, of course, but that's not what Daisey does. One wouldn't necessarily see that in a humorous two-minute clip (aside from the fact that he's sitting at a table with notes, not standing up w/ a mike). If you'd seen a full monologue by Daisey, you probably wouldn't object to his being classified as a monologist.

You're correct that the major issue is the water-pouring--the destruction of Daisey's work. I'm not sure what the question "what is point of all this consternation if the water wasn't poured?" That's very much "But other than that, how did you enjoy the play, Mrs. Lincoln?"

The walkout on its own would be a minor issue; people are free to walk out. it should be noted, however, that the group was clearly told the performance contained adult language and situations and came anyway; the fact that they were hypersensitive but chose to attend anyway just strikes me as bizarre.

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