Thursday, September 4, 2008
Frequently Asked Questions
Last night, at Seattle's Town Hall, Mike performed with Reggie Watts for the first time in a brand-new show whose shtick was as simple as it was gratifying. The title of the piece was "Frequently Asked Questions: Mike Daisey and Reggie Watts Explain the Meaning of Life." Index cards were circulated through the packed house (800 people!) on which folks wrote down questions like, "Is it ever a good idea to buy things off of infomercials?" and "Why do I make out with people I'm not even attracted to?"
Reggie and Mike shared the stage brilliantly, as if they'd done this many times before. Each has such a strong presence, but neither overshadowed the other. At times Reggie would play the piano to underscore Mike's answers or create an ambiance on his Magic Looping Machine, or break things up with a bit of understated physical comedy.
Some of my favorite moments: Mike's extended fantasia on the perils of bees and sharks, Reggie's songs answering the questions, "Why won't he marry me?" and "If prostitution is the world's oldest profession, what was the first prostitute paid with?" (The answer is stones, though it turns out to be much more complicated than that.) I also liked Mike's quick answer to "Why are Americans so bad at history?" ("Because it hasn't happened to them yet.")
They also dedicated a whole section to the gazillion Sarah Palin-related questions submitted. Reggie set the sonic mood while Mike simply read off question after question, providing no answers, but reassuring everyone in the house that we, at least, were all on the same page.
Oh! And to the question "Why do I make out with people I'm not even attracted to?", Mike chided that questioners should always leave phone numbers. With the next basket of questions came an index card bearing only a phone number. When Mike read it out loud, the house fell apart. Unlike the other cards, which were tossed to the floor once read, Mike carefully folded it and put it in his pocket. Later, at the bar, we made him call her. He left a message, but our mystery girl never appeared.