Seattlest: We Interview: Mike Daisey, About His Monopoly On Funny, Fiery Monologues:
Q: You’re very funny onstage, but getting angry is a key element, too. What’s the role of anger in your work?
A: A monologue is an interesting form because your job is to remove as many boundaries as possible between yourself and the audience. It’s an attempt to create as unmediated a space as you possibly can, and try to be truly present when you’re talking. One of the consequences of that is people become more themselves when they perform – those elements that are central, integral to them are heightened. They’re what resonate, and I’m very angry. So that becomes a palpable thread through most of my pieces. I think that a lot of my pieces are informed by my rage at different things, the state of things, things that should change or have to change or which I know will never change, the efforts and sacrifices people make to effect change. So the anger fuels and drives a lot of the work. It’s the impetus for a lot of the monologues. If I didn’t have it, I don’t know that I would practice the form. Certainly I wouldn’t in the way that I do now, because it motivates me, to find things that I feel passionately about. It’s the fire underneath things.
Q: There’s an emotional commitment to getting that upset in public.
A: Yeah. It’s rarely seen. You rarely see people upset or angry in a way that’s constructive. If the structure of the monologue is well-built, and the anger can be used to further the ends you’re interested in, it can be very compelling. Not just dramaturgically, but as a model, where we don’t get to see people model that behavior very often in a way that’s productive. Generally when you see people lose their shit, it’s not their finest hour. It’s empowering to see people experience strong, genuine emotions onstage. The form lends itself to that, to generating intense emotions.