Hip-Shot: ‘If You See Something…’

If You See Something Say Something
Woolly Mammoth Theatre

Remaining Performances:
Saturday, July 26 @ 4 PM
Saturday, July 26 @ 8 PM

They say: "Master storyteller Mike Daisey's new comic monologue takes aim at the history of the Department of Homeland Security. Combining eye-opening research and witty autobiography, he bores into the dark heart of America to discover the meaning of security and the price we are willing to pay for it."

Brian's take: Got some free time this weekend? Oooh, I've got an idea–you should pay $20 to let a man sit at a table and talk to you for two hours about the history of American security!

You might think I'm being sarcastic (two hours of a man sitting at a table, you say?), but I shit you not. That is actually what you should do, as long as the man's name is Mike Daisey, the creator and comic purveyor of the exquisitely conceived If You See Something Say Something. I'll leave the sarcasm up to him.

There may be no metaphor in security, as Daisey astutely notes, but he certainly injects metaphor (and simile, and irony, and synecdoche, and peripetea, &c, &c) aplenty into this series of monologues–stories, really–which he weaves with enthralling dexterity of voice, tone, gesture, and expression.  The show is billed as the story of the Department of Homeland Security, but much of the focus is on the history of the atomic bomb.  The piece is obsessively researched, and by interlacing the straight history with his own anecdotes and observations, Daisey is able to infuse a somewhat sterile topic with a folksy, around-the-campfire sensibility.  In some of the most disturbing but memorable moments, Daisey is even able to turn the monologue into something of a ghost story–one minute you're laughing at the foibles of Bernard Kerik, the next minute Daisey is describing in unsettling detail what would happen if Cohen's neutron bomb were detonated above the theater, and you feel just a bit sick for joking around only moments earlier.  

Daisey is one of those people (I've seen him before) who can make anything scintillating, so even if you proclaim to be uninterested in neutrons and bombs and the Cold War and deserts and Tom Ridge and that kind of thing, go if only to spend some quality time with Daisey.  It's like taking one of your favorite nonfiction authors–I'll use Ian Frazier but you can fill-in-the-blank–crossing him with your favorite stand-up comedian–let's say, oh, I don't know, Robin Williams–and hunkering down in a bar for a few hours to discuss a subject about which he's read every book possible.

See it if: You've ever been frisked ever-so-scandalously by a security guard.

Skip it if: You are overly paranoid about getting radiation poisoning.