I saw the young(ish) and talented Mike Daisey perform his latest monologue at The Public Theater, The Last Cargo Cult. I love The Public Theater. I fell in love there on two separate occasions!
This time around, Mr. Daisey visits an island in the South Pacific that’s purported to be untouched by money and commerce. He juxtaposes this against last fall’s economic meltdown and gives a pretty sobering assessment of the stranglehold the Investment Banking community has on this nation. Yes, there are lots of laughs, but you do end up feeling like the victim of white collar crime. Which you are.
He employs the best gimmick I’ve ever seen in a show. As you walk in, ushers hand out money in various denominations to the audience. I got $10! As you can imagine, everyone was in a pretty good mood when the show started, although the people holding $1 were wondering why they weren’t given $20.
It comes to pass that the money handed out is Mr. Daisey’s pay for that evening. At the conclusion of the show, he places a crystal bowl on stage and you have to decide whether not to give it back. He makes it abundantly clear that he needs the money for the rent and the audience means very little to him in a fiscal sense because, as he points out, we are a faceless mob sitting in the dark who will be replaced the next night. Brilliant! I gave my $10 back. I would love to find out how much he recovered.
He takes an unnecessary detour out to the Hamptons to tell a side-story about a paid appearance for a mega-wealthy audience. (“My annual salary is a rounding error to them.”) It was amusing but it momentarily took me out of the matter at hand. I wish I had a tape of the entrance music.