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"We have trouble telling the truth to ourselves, let alone to others, and everyone has parts of their life they're not willing to speak about," he says. "There are things I've now talked about onstage that, years ago, I wouldn't have. Autobiographical monologues are kind of bound—and ennobled—by who we are. I think that when I talk about my life, [I'm trying to] to shine a light, to illuminate the point I'm trying to make. The biography is at the service of the monologue, not the other way around."
Daisey was raised Catholic, but he is now an atheist. Even with books from Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins on best-seller lists, this is a hard position for many people to come to. How did he do it?
"I had a decent-enough history with Catholicism. It wasn't an especially hard journey, but I knew I was an atheist from a very young age, even though I resisted it, initially," he says. "Our culture is so predicated on belief, even the words for non-believers are a negative: atheist = no God. It's hard to defend a negative. I think people should be forced to defend the positive, but that's logic coming into the equation. When people have those obnoxious arguments about whether there is or isn't a God, they're arguing about an abstraction. Something that can't be touched or smelled or seen should be immaterial . . . whether people believe in it or not."
Which leads the conversation back to the Boston interruption. How does he feel about it now, almost a year later?
"Going through the experience wasn't good for me. I needed to put the matter to rest so that the final word wasn't his," Daisey says. "I need to be able to do my job. I needed to talk to them."
Daisey called and e-mailed the Norco High principal, but he was ignored. He did, however, have an extended, awkward discussion with the conservative Christian who violated his work. He never asked the saboteur to apologize and ended up forgiving him, reminding him that it was "a liberal atheist" who was extending that compassion.
"Things like this—when they happen—they never get talked about. Luckily, we document things, so I agreed to posting the clip, and it went from a private incident to a public one. I received four or five thousand e-mails, almost all positive. Hopefully, people will be strong enough to stand up and say something if it happens again."
Mike Daisey performs Monopoly! at The Samueli Theater, Orange County Performing Arts center, 600 Town Center Dr., Costa Mesa, (714) 556-2787; www.ocpac.org. Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m. $25.