The Life Unwired with Ben Combee (unwiredben) wrote,
The Life Unwired with Ben Combee

My Visit to "A Prairie Home Companion"

As I mentioned in the previous post, my sister and I got tickets for the Friday night taping of Weactually got tickets for a small seating area they've setup on the stage on both sides of the house band; they just went on sale on Thursday. Here's my notes, reconstructed after the show with my sister's help. It was really amazing, especially seeing Tom Keith do all of his sound effects and hearing the band play live just feet in front of us. The show was a special performance to air during pledge drives in April, so it ran to almost three hours, with them planning on editing it a bit to make room for stations to insert their beg-a-thons.

  • We got there about 7:30PM and stood in line until they opened the stage for seating. Cyndi and I had tickets #1 and #2.

  • We found seats at floor level behind the drum set for the visiting band, BR549, a really good rockabilly combo from Nashville. My view was slightly blocked by the drummer's monitor, but Cyndi had a clear view to center stage, but we could both see all the actors during their productions.

  • I picked up a copy of Garrison's book on former Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura and a Battlefield Band CD ("Leaving Friday Harbor") from the shop in the theater lobby.

  • Garrison Keillor came out and talked to a few people on the stage before the show. A guy commented on his bright red sneakers; Garrison said they were hard to find on the Internet--everyone was into greens and browns now--but they're useful when walking through the snow, so you can always see your feet.

  • He did a short warmup monologue before the show, talking about how his seven-year old daughter just had her tonsils removed and about the cold snap we're in. The show was a special program to air in segments during April pledge breaks, so the in-joke was that everyone was talking about the great spring weather when it was -8 outside.

  • Opening "American Public Media" jingle, then Garrison sung his song, mentioned sponsors Land's End and Sleep Comfort, and started with a fundraising duet that mentioned Terry Gross and Car Talk

  • BEBOP-A-REEBOP RHUBARB PIE sponsored a sound-effect laden bit about your nightmares where you didn't support your public radio station, it is shut down, and you're attacked by a red-eyed Doberman with a membership roll in one paw.

  • Garrison quoted a lot of writers and poets on friendship. My favorite quote was that friendship meant that you could blackmail each other, but you don't.

  • Rich Dworsky's sister Sally was out from LA and did a really beautiful cover a Sheryl Crow song. She also had a great haircut, the kind you can't get in Minnesota

  • Guy Noir makes money by dogwalking, reads the New York Times to pick up girls, meets someone a woman, Mona, who has a toy Chihuahua (bred with a hamster), makes up stories about Ira Glass being his college roommate, gets pulled into working a pledge drive, gets called by Rocko, has to imitate a dog singing, and runs away in the dark.

  • Quick POWDERMILK BISCUITS jingle and song, something my sister really enjoyed.

  • Garrison hosted a Q&A session; some questions were boring and poorly asked, but he and the other actors did a great job improvising sounds effects and characters when answering the question from a young girl about how to do a scary radio show. He dodged a question about what he thought of our president, saying that Americans love redemption and that Republicans give a lot of money to public radio too. There was a nice answer to a girl who was an English major and engaged to a Lutheran minister that praised the benefits of learning the English language.

  • They did a parody of a newscast, with a bubbly newscaster played by Sue Scott and a story about a comet that would hit the earth later that evening, destroying all life. Other characters included a weatherman who predicted a high of 7000 degrees, a sportscaster that chewed out the management, tried to get the newscaster to make out with him, and got shot by the newscaster, who then reported on the murder.

  • Rusty and Lefty are out on the trail, when Lefty starts using word he learned from the radio, including iconic, vicissitude, and shibboleth. They go to a bar to find a schoolmarm who would have a dictionary so they could find out the definition of those words. They meet Lefty's friend, a writer of almost 300 Western novels, get into a fight, and Rusty finds a schoolmarm that wore tight jeans and rhinestones, "a walking anatomy lesson", that wants him to come up to her room to use the dictionary. Lefty promised to listen to public radio so he could learn words that would win him a schoolmarm of his own.

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