Interview With the Word Eater

The Dave Eggers 826 benefit show promises a staged literary feud.

Reached via e-mail, Daily Show contributor, and author (The Areas of My Expertise) John Hodgman had this to say about the upcoming Bumbershoot show. Seattle Weekly: What can Seattle expect from the show? Will there be plate spinning, trained dogs, or knife throwing? John Hodgman: Sadly, nothing shall be spun, trained, or thrown, other than tales, attention, and a staged literary feud between me and [Sarah] Vowell (if you are a betting man, I will be going down after the fifth round of barbed repartee). Last year, I believe, there was a pretty successful passing of the hat to further benefit 826 Seattle. Has that been attempted at your other, prior tour stops this year? I can only speak for our recent N.Y.C. appearance at the Beacon Theater, in which we raised more than $15,000 via bucket. That's real money, even these days, and we were shamed by the generosity of the crowd. As you can imagine, it will buy a lot of buckets to keep money in, and it will also help out in the helping kids with writing. David Eggers also sold hugs for $20, which could happen again if he is asked. Or would you encourage people to wildly throw money on stage? As long as people are not throwing gigantic coins, like the kind Batman has in his Batcave, that would be fine. Actually, a giant coin would be fine, too. Just don't "throw" coins or money with guns, or shape the coins into knives. Will you have one of those giant fund-raising thermometers like on TV? No, we are not allowed to handle or transport mercury anymore after the incident, and the electronic "in the ear" cash thermometers are not at all reliable. Bumbershoot takes place over the Labor Day weekend, when Jerry Lewis used to do his telethon. Any good ideas you remember from that which you could steal? The begging. 826 is all about writing skills. Will there be a literacy requirement for spectators to get into McCaw Hall to see the show? Thankfully, those dark days are over. Would it be a sign of success if this hyper-literate audience was blogging or text-messaging during the show? Or would that be discourteous? As long as they keep the tippy-tapping quiet enough, it's fine by me. Please: No manual typewriters or skywriting planes. Too noisy! The pianist Glenn Gould used to soak his hands in hot water before performing. What are some of your preshow rituals? We also soak Glenn Gould's hands in hot water. It's the only way to rehydrate them after a long flight. Less esoterically: We talk about what we are going to do and read and sing, often in the backstage area, often next to a platter of cheese and grapes. McCaw Hall is a highbrow cultural venue, so pyrotechnics probably aren't allowed. Or ponies. What else might you be able to sneak into the act on a smaller scale? A man wearing a coonskin cap and a buckskin shirt. Do you worry that, having gathered yourself into this touring group for a worthy cause, you will now be forever associated with one another like the members of the Beatles? I cannot speak for any of my colleagues, but I would only be honored and aided by such an association. It's helped so far, that's for sure. And if so, who's the Ringo figure among you? Luckily, none of us have funny accents. bmiller@seattleweekly.com

 
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