Saturday, July 9, 2016

After 42 years master storyteller Garrison Keillor stepped off the stage at A Prairie Home Companion

USA Today, NPR, and People magazine all covered his retirement.

That two-hour Saturday evening radio show won’t be the same without his hosting and storytelling - particularly long comedy monologues covering the News from Lake Wobegon. Garrison Keillor has discussed inventing that fictional central Minnesota town filled with stoic Lutherans. You can watch his 17-minute July 2nd last monologue on YouTube. You can listen to that show too. 

I don’t remember the title, but still remember the plot from one old monologue. He began at one end of town by describing a young woman high school student being seated on the turret of a Sherman tank at the head of the Homecoming parade, followed by the marching band. Garrison described how that tradition meant that rather than mentally putting women on pedestals he would put them on Sherman tanks.

Then he switched over to the other end of town, where her father had responded to an emergency plumbing repair call about an overflowing septic tank. He got a backhoe and dug it up, but found that instead of a real tank they’d done a depression-era improvisation and just piped the sewage into the buried body of an old automobile. Finally he got the stinking manure-filled vehicle onto a flatbed trailer, and headed through town to dispose of it at the county dump (and then pick up a new septic tank).

But he’d forgotten all about that homecoming parade. Of course he met it and his daughter in the middle of downtown on Main Street - where the sidewalks were crowded with onlookers. So, he had to back up the truck and trailer and instead take less direct route on a side street.    

The show had several fictitious long-term sponsors including Powdermilk Biscuits and The Fearmonger’s Shop (serving your phobia needs since 1954). They sell products like edible clothing, safety shields for your appliances, the Lever of Life, and stuffed buzzards. Other sponsors include the singing whales from Seattle.     

In a blog post on August 5, 2014 I described Mr. Keillor’s discussion of a self-erasing commencement speech.

So long Garrison. You made us both laugh and think.

The image of a theater stage came from the Library of Congress.

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