For those who don't know - A Prairie Home Companion is one of St Paul's biggest prides when it comes to radio. It's hosted and written by Garrison Keillor. The show has been nationally broadcasted since July 6th, 1974. It's roughly split in half between eclectic music (folk, country, soft rock, you name it). Today, it's based at the Fitzgerald theater in St. Paul. Having had the honor to be a part of this sophisticated program by being an extra in the movie based on the show (2006 with Meryl Streep, Kevin Kline, and Lindsay Lohan), it doesn't take a radio or theater critic to appreciate the mystery, intrigue, and sense of masterpiece this program has to offer listeners every weekend - Saturday at 5pm and Sunday a rebroadcast at 11am on MPR 91.1FM.
Here's a quick run-through for all you virtuoso radio fans (virtuoso at being fans, yes; it's a certain kind of "radio humor"); hopefully you'll enjoy it:
On the 22nd, the show was a rebroadcast of January 2013th show from War Memorial Opera House in San Francisco. Garrison was describing the city, how different people are from Minnesota - guy with backwards baseball cap and baby in carriage with a mo-hawk. In that same segment Keillor segued into saying that, even though everything is run by computers, we still wish to hear natural sounds.
"That Frisco town, I'm on my way" was one of the songs they sang. "Sourdough bread" was another. "There will be no religious symbolism in public places, do you hear me?? No Xmas trees!" Was an outcry hear among others. A story about a little girl tired of picking asparagus who wanders away and finds a little broke-down plane and flies it to LA hoping to become a movie star. Steering wheel breaks, (that's how they described it) a wing breaks off. She says, "oh well, I'm a left-winger, anyway, and I have my umbrella with me!"
In another segment, Guy Noir (a character made up and played by Keillor - possibly to add sense of mystery) sends a dog named Rex out for double A batteries, while some guy w him hears stealthy footsteps. He threatened Guy Noir after which they (Noir and assitant) blew him up. "This is hourglass and this is American life" was announced after the skit.
Next, Garrison thinks back to the Wild West. He says San Francisco used to be a town for out of work opera singers while other towns didn't help. After that the song "Sittin' with my baby at the San Francisco Opera House" comes on.
The most fascinating part was when Garrison's (maybe guy Noir's) mom called. They started arguing almost right away; his mother was mad that he moved to San Francisco without telling her. Noir defended himself, "well, I texted ya!" but it wasn't good enough. The call moved to the father, who admitted to hiding in the bathroom from his mother just to sit and "count tiles." Their conversation was awkward and quick and came back to the mom. To smooth things over, Noir tells the mom that he dedicated the book to her. "What was it," she asks, "to mom with love and gratitude?" "No," he says, "it says 'to Nadine.'" His mom gets mad and changes subject; Noir's girlfriend girlfriend then comes in and the mother hangs up. These types of character altercations are common on the show, yes-siree.
Then the band played a song about a guy named Thomashefsky. As their site confirmed, the song's called "Who Do You Suppose Went and Married My Sister? Thomashefsky!" by Michael Tilson Thomas with the Shoe Band. Song's from point of view of a guy whose sister married Thomashefsky and he prepares him for the inconveniences he'll endure joining the family.
He then read some personal notes from selected members of his audience; some made a few girls scream. Keilor said to that, "I used to be able to screech like that; I love it somewhere along the line."
A nice, heartfelt song they sang about friends. What was ironic is what preceded the song - Keilor reminisced about people he lost along the way. He says that everyone lost someone along the way who are irreplaceable. Or, maybe, he says, they are replaceable.
The show ended with a song where Keilor told everyone not to text and drive. Thanks for reading and tune in Saturdays at 5pm and Sundays at 11am on MPR 91.1fm!