The Spring 2009 (#107) issue of Bomb Magazine includes an interview I did with Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonano of the Yes Men. You can read the whole interview on Bomb Magazine‘s website, but it looks nicer in the magazine.
Here’s an excerpt:
SL So, when you two are doing these speaking gigs, do you basically play the same character each time? I know for each one you have to use different names, but as “actors” do you imagine them to be the same people? What goes into creating these businessmen characters?
MB If you look at someone like Jack Nicholson, he always seems like he is sort of the same even when he is playing different characters. I think we must be something like that.
AB Except that we can’t act.
MB Right. What I meant was that if we were actors, it might be like that. The fact is that we have no clue what we are doing when we are up there. Luckily, the audiences think we really are who we say we are, so there is no need to act at all. And our character development has no particular method. It’s there in some intuitive way, but we don’t think too much about it.
SL Are the projects that have been big in the media—Dow Chemical and New Orleans, most obviously—are those working against a secondary message you are trying to communicate to activists? Which is that this strategy might be worth considering, and that it’s totally within reach? Neither of you have any real formal training as “imposters” and from what I have gathered hanging around y’all for the past year is that this is very much a seat-of-the-pants operation.
MB Yeah, we barely have pants at all, really. Anyone could do stuff like this, and in our movies that comes through, I think.
AB Which encourages a lot of activists, not necessarily because they want to use the same methods, but because they see how the world of big business is not a fortress . . . it’s a house of cards.