I will openly admit that I am a very strange person, but my near obsession with Garrison Keillor may take the cake as far as weirdness goes. For those of you who don’t know this wonderful man, ol’ GK is the current host of A Prairie Home Companion and prolific writer of over twenty books. Already awesome – add in the fact that he’s written and starred in his own movie, has had three wives, and professes a love for red tennis shoes? I’m sold.
Anyway, there are a few particulars I bring up about Garrison, and here they are:
1. He writes good.
I sadly haven’t read enough of his to give a full review of his writing, but I can definitely say that everything I’ve cracked open is wonderful. Anything about Lake Wobegon is gold and any extra stuff probably is subconsciously about Lake Wobegon so it’s good too. I’m ALMOST done with Pontoon (I HAVE A SIGNED COPY!?) (thrifted but IT STILL COUNTS) and I already want to re-read it. Other peaches are: Lake Wobegon Days, Happy to Be Here, and Lake Wobegon Summer. Go. Go read. Now.
2. He reads good.
See, there’s something else I look for in a good writer: can they read their own work? No, not like ‘are they literate,’ like, can they read aloud? With timing and articulation and all that stuff? It’s nothing that will come natural to a person – except maybe Garrison Keillor. He does all of his own audio tapes (a few of which I own) and reads his very own monologues every week on A Prairie Home Companion. I have probably listened through WLT: A Radio Romance at least fifty times and it’s still what I fall back on when I can’t sleep.
3. He performs good.
I love radio in this weird warped way where I only love radio from the forties. Chalk it up to an overabundance of knowledge about old-school radio (see: aforementioned WLP A Radio Romance and ensuing ninth grade history project) or maybe just a past-life nostalgia, but I love me some variety shows. And A Prairie Home Companion is simply the best – and that’s not just because they’re the last in existence. They have a few regular segments (Guy Noir: Private Eye and The Lives of the Cowboys), a few musical acts (one of my favorite artists Chic Gamine were on last week!), and then they sort of say whatever they want in the extra time. The best part, however, is GK’s monologue: about twenty minutes of just him TALKING. But like, it’s awesome. Just listen, you’ll see.
4. He gives-me-a-taste-o’-home good.
Yeah, that’s right, I pulled the nostalgia card. My parents weren’t avid listeners, but you could usually count on the radio to be clicked on at some point during a Saturday night, which meant those worn chords filling the house before Keillor’s low drone of, “Welcome back, we’re broadcasting live out of…” quickly followed by my sock-footed feet padding down the stairs to listen. Or it would later mean me holing up in my room playing video games, feet kicked up on my desk and my boombox (yes, boombox) tuned to 89.3. Or now it means me trying to find a stream a few days later and praying to the gods of Voorbucht Castle Wireless that I might be able to listen to all two hours. The little things.
5. I feel like there should be a number five so I’m going to talk about The Annual Joke Show. Good.
I used to be known for my jokes. This is middle school, mind you, but I had a pretty lean repertoire of one-liners, knock-knock’s, walked-into-the-bar, crossed-the-road, story-based, or yo-mama’s to whip out at any given moment. I attribute all of this to The Annual Joke Show, the once-a-year special “that caused more people to cancel their public radio subscriptions than any other show in America” – so says Garrison himself. And really, that’s all they did. They had categories and simply read jokes to one another for two hours. Sounds weird – it is. And it’s great. Most of them are too ripe to share on here but I have to say, listen long enough and you get to hear GK laugh until he cries. And that’s more than worth it.