Mr. 826

He's famous. He's deservedly acclaimed. And McSweeney's founder Dave Eggers has monkeys to punch—all for a good cause, of course.

Reached via e-mail this week, Dave Eggers told us what to expect from the Word Eaters benefit show for 826 Seattle. Seattle Weekly: What have you added or retained from last year's 826 benefit show here in Seattle? Dave Eggers: I think we've got much of the same lineup, and have added Smoosh and Zach Rogue of Rogue Wave and Colin Meloy of the Decemberists and Stephin Merritt of the Magnetic Fields. We had booked some very talented Christian dancers; they call themselves "Bringin' the Noize (about God)," but then there were contractual issues. 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? We've done it everywhere we've gone this year, based entirely on the Seattle show from last year. We raised over $10,000 at Bumbershoot in about 10 minutes, and we've been trying to equal that ever since. Or would you encourage people to wildly throw money on stage? Throw money, yes. Wildly, no. I would always recommend a sort of underhand softball pitch. Will you have one of those giant fund-raising thermometers like on TV? If you bring one, we will have it. Bumbershoot takes place over Labor Day weekend, when Jerry Lewis used to do his telethon. Any good ideas you remember from that which you could steal? His clothes were spectacular. 826 is all about writing skills. Will there be a literacy requirement for spectators to get into McCaw Hall to see the show? A brief essay will be required. Attendees will be asked to trace the development of hereditary monarchy in the U.S. You'll have 45 minutes. What about audience participation? Are you pro or con about mind reading or guessing the contents of a purse? (Or for Seattle men, the dreaded fanny pack.) I think mind reading is pretty under-rated. It has some very good uses, for example the ability to know what's in someone else's mind. The pianist Glenn Gould used to soak his hands in hot water before performing. What are some of your preshow rituals? I punch monkeys. I keep a dozen monkeys with me, and backstage I punch them. It's not cruelty, though. After the show they punch me. It's a symbiotic thing, and we have doctors on hand to make sure it's all very scientific and medical. 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? The monkeys are always asking to be written into the show, but I'd rather just punch them backstage. 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? Seattle's actually the only place where this lineup has recurred. So we're sort of more like . . . I was trying to think of a band that only reunites when it plays a certain city, but I can't think of one. But if there is one, we're like them.

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