"I like the art," a young woman said, leaning into my ear. "I just don't like the people." It was First Thursday and the crowds hummed through Pioneer Square galleries, squeezing by each other in search of a good view or another glass of wine or an exit. Three young men in suit jackets and carefully mussed hair clotted in front of the folding table-cum-bar, pouring shots of tequila and broadcasting self-satisfied chortles.

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The wine and cheese buffet at Wreck the Airline Barrier, on Friday, was also protected from the many by the few. While the audience milled around the lobby, director Tyrone Brown divided us into first-class and second-class passengers. First class was congratulated and sent to the wine and cheese table. The second-class citizens stood in a line and were told to keep quiet. ("Ooh, experiential theater," one woman muttered sarcastically.) Eventually a young woman broke ranks, snagged a glass of wine, and self-consciously snickered her way back into line.

The Saturday night crowd at the Mirabeau Room was less restrained. The art/comedy rockers of "Awesome" were previewing new songs from noSIGNAL, their upcoming show about decaying machines, suicide genes, and bees at On the Boards. Someone suggested I review the concert. I explained that I couldn't—it's only one night, it's a rock show. "Review it anyway!" he chided. "And say it was really great and end with, 'Too bad you missed it, you loooosers.'" Then he chortled.

Nobody laughed during mass at St. James Cathedral while lectors and a deacon performed their annual reading of the Passion play for Palm Sunday. (Wouldn't it be odd to be Catholic, playing Judas, in a church, during mass?) From the Last Supper to Christ's crucifixion, the Passion really is the greatest story ever told, but it was difficult to hear from the back: Children fiddled with their palm fronds and parishioners gazed at the Stations of the Cross and stained-glass windows and statues of saints lining the walls. (Cathedral-builders were multimedia pioneers, encrusting their buildings with visual theology for the illiterate, the distracted, and the out-of-earshot.) When the story came to the part about Peter denying Christ three times and the cock crowing, a nearby infant began to wail.

That night at the Capitol Hill Arts Center, during Mike Daisey's monologue about L. Ron Hubbard, I studied the faces in the crowd, looking for Scientologists. The audience laughed and laughed, but the man sitting in front of me didn't give up a single chuckle in the course of Daisey's retelling of L. Ron's life of peripatetic hucksterism. I was ready, when the lights came up, to ask what he, as a Scientologist, thought of the show. Turns out, he is a local actor who just doesn't laugh very much. I couldn't find any Scientologists to talk to about Daisey's sharp and surprising portrait of the Great Man.

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brendan@thestranger.com