For its first performance on a college campus, “White Like Me: A Honky Dory Puppet Show,” will come to Bowdoin this evening for a playful but wickedly satirical story about white anxiety. 

Created by puppeteer and performance artist Paul Zaloom, the solo show repurposes garbage, toys and tchotchkes to explore the way white people respond to the increasing diversification of the United States.

Zaloom pinpoints the show’s origins to a pitch meeting years ago where most of the artists wanted their work to focus on issues like sexual orientation, ethnic identity and race. 

“I’m sitting there and listening to artist after artist getting up and talking about this. And at one point I said to myself, geez, what about me?” said Zaloom. “And then my next thought was… I’m a white male. What do I mean, what about me?” 

The bulk of the show consists of a toy theater spectacle called “The Adventures of White-Man,” which chronicles a White-Man who leaves his home planet of Caucazoid to “civilize” Earth. Eventually, White-Man begins to fear the prospect of becoming a minority in the United States by 2040. 

According to Zaloom, his work has always been political and his puppetry has played an integral part in creating subversive and satirical performance art. 

“We’ve never been taken seriously, and that actually gives us a lot of power … in most cultures, puppets have satirized the powers that be,” Zaloom said. “And they’ve gotten away with it.”

Though many high-profile comedians have stopped performing for college campuses, saying that students are too easily offended, Zaloom welcomes the dialogue that his show inspires. 

“Students are really engaged in these issues and thinking about them,” said Zaloom. “I’m really interested to hear what people have to say.” 

Professor of Theater Davis Robinson, who worked to bring Zaloom to campus, sees great value in this form of comedy as a means to make light of common anxieties. 

“It’s a time when we need to be able to diffuse and laugh a little bit about the anxieties that are out there,” he said. “[He’s] able to talk about contemporary issues and politics in a way that’s thoughtful but also entertaining,” said Robinson.

Zaloom encourages all aspiring artists and performers to try out puppetry.

“Check it out,” he said. “You don’t have to make a career out of it, but you can sure have a hell of a lot of fun and amuse your friends. Or piss them off. Or whatever.”