Garrison Keillor Tonight
Garrison Keillor Tonight is an evening of stand-up, storytelling, audience song, and poetry. One man, one microphone. There are sung sonnets, limericks and musical jokes, and the thread that runs through it is the beauty of growing old. Despite the inconvenience, old age brings the contentment of LESS IS MORE. Your mistakes and big ambitions are behind you, nothing left to prove, and small things give you great pleasure because that’s what’s left. (“I was unhappy in college because it was a requirement for an intellectual, but then I went into show business and discovered that people won’t pay to be made unhappy, their kids will do it for free.”)
There is the News from Lake Wobegon, a town booming with new entrepreneurs, makers of artisanal firewood and gourmet meatloaf, breeders of composting worms, and dogs trained to do childcare. But some things endure, such as the formation of the Living Flag on Main Street, citizens in tight formation wearing red, white or blue caps, and Mr. Keillor among them, standing close to old neighbors, Myrtle Krebsbach (“Truckstop”) and Julie Christensen (“Bruno, The Fishing Dog”) and Clint Bunsen. And an a cappella sing-along with the audience singing from memory an odd medley of patriotic songs, pop standards, hymns, and ending with the national anthem.
Garrison Keillor did “A Prairie Home Companion” for forty years, wrote fiction and comedy, invented a town called Lake Wobegon where all the children are above average, even though he himself grew up evangelical in a small separatist flock where all the children expected the imminent end of the world. He’s busy in retirement, having written a memoir and a book of limericks and is at work on a musical and a Lake Wobegon screenplay, and he continues to do “The Writers Almanac” sent out daily to Internet subscribers (free).
He and his wife Jenny Lind Nilsson live in Minneapolis, not far from the YMCA where he was sent for swimming lessons at age 12 after his cousin drowned, and he skipped the lessons and went to the public library instead and to a radio studio to watch a noontime show with singers and a band. Thus, our course in life is set.
“Fans laughed, applauded and sang along throughout Sunday night’s two-hour show” -Jeff Baenen, AP News
“His shows can, for a couple of hours, transform an audience of even so-called coastal elites into a small-town community with an intimacy only radio and its podcast descendants can achieve” -Chris Barton, LA Times
“[Keillor is] an expert at making you feel at home with his low-key, familiar style. Comfortable is his specialty.” -Betsie Freeman, Omaha-World Herald