"The highlight of my childhood was making my brother laugh so hard that food came out of his nose." -- Garrison Keillor
Gary Edward "Garrison" Keillor (born August 7, 1942) is an American author, storyteller, humorist, and radio personality. He is known as host of the Minnesota Public Radio show A Prairie Home Companion (also known as Garrison Keillor's Radio Show on United Kingdom's BBC 7, as well as on RTE in Ireland , Australia's ABC and Radio New Zealand National in New Zealand).
"A book is a gift you can open again and again.""A girl in a bikini is like having a loaded pistol on your coffee table - There's nothing wrong with them, but it's hard to stop thinking about it.""A good newspaper is never nearly good enough but a lousy newspaper is a joy forever.""A lovely thing about Christmas is that it's compulsory, like a thunderstorm, and we all go through it together.""A minister has to be able to read a clock. At noon, it's time to go home and turn up the pot roast and get the peas out of the freezer.""Cats are intended to teach us that not everything in nature has a purpose.""Even in a time of elephantine vanity and greed, one never has to look far to see the campfires of gentle people.""God writes a lot of comedy... the trouble is, he's stuck with so many bad actors who don't know how to play funny.""I believe in looking reality straight in the eye and denying it.""I think the most un-American thing you can say is, 'You can't say that.'""I want to resume the life of a shy person.""I'm not busy... a woman with three children under the age of 10 wouldn't think my schedule looked so busy.""It was luxuries like air conditioning that brought down the Roman Empire. With air conditioning their windows were shut, they couldn't hear the barbarians coming.""It's a shallow life that doesn't give a person a few scars.""Lake Wobegon, the little town that time forgot and the decades cannot improve.""Nothing you do for children is ever wasted. They seem not to notice us, hovering, averting our eyes, and they seldom offer thanks, but what we do for them is never wasted.""Some luck lies in not getting what you thought you wanted but getting what you have, which once you have got it you may be smart enough to see is what you would have wanted had you known.""Sometimes you have to look reality in the eye, and deny it.""Thank you, God, for this good life and forgive us if we do not love it enough.""The funniest line in English is "Get it?" When you say that, everyone chortles.""They say such nice things about people at their funerals that it makes me sad that I'm going to miss mine by just a few days.""Vodka is tasteless going down, but it is memorable coming up.""Welcome to Lake Wobegon, where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average."
Keillor was born in Anoka, Minnesota, the son of Grace Ruth (née Denham) and John Philip Keillor, who was a carpenter and postal worker. Lands' End He was raised in a family belonging to the Plymouth Brethren, a fundamentalist Christian denomination he has since left. He is six feet, three inches (1.9 m) tall Salon Books | Hot sex with the ex and has Scottish ancestry. Keillor is a member of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party. In 2006 he told Christianity Today that he was attending an Episcopal church in Saint Paul, after previously attending a Lutheran church in New York. His religious roots are frequently worked into his material: he often remarks that most Minnesotans, being of German or Scandinavian descent, are Lutherans. He graduated from the University of Minnesota with a bachelor's degree in English in 1966. While there, he began his broadcasting career on the student-operated radio station known today as Radio K.
Keillor has been married three times:
To Mary Guntzel, from 1965 to 1976. The couple has one son, Jason, born in 1969.
To Ulla Skaerved (a former exchange student from Denmark at Keillor's high school whom he famously reencountered at a class reunion), from 1985 to 1990.
To violinist Jenny Lind Nilsson (b. 1957), who is from his hometown of Anoka, since 1995. They have one daughter, Maia, born in December 1997.
Between his first and second marriages he was also romantically involved with Margaret Moos, who worked as a producer of A Prairie Home Companion. Garrison Keillor
The Keillors maintain homes on the Upper West Side of New York City and in Saint Paul, Minnesota.
One of his brothers, the historian Steven Keillor, is also an author.
On September 7, 2009, Keillor was briefly hospitalized after suffering a minor stroke.
Keillor has many noteworthy ancestors, including Joseph Crandall, who made progress in the studies of Native American languages and was also an associate of Roger Williams (who founded the first American Baptist church as well as Rhode Island), and Prudence Crandall (who founded the first African-American women's school in America).
Garrison Keillor started his professional radio career in November 1969 with Minnesota Educational Radio (MER), now Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) and distributing programs under the American Public Media (APM) brand. He hosted The Morning Program in the weekday drive time slot of 6 to 9 a.m. on KSJR 90.1 FM at St. John's University in Collegeville, which the station called "A Prairie Home Entertainment." The show's eclectic music was a major divergence from the station's usual classical music format. During this time he also began submitting fiction to The New Yorker, where his first story, "Local Family Keeps Son Happy," appeared on September 19, 1970.
Keillor resigned from The Morning Program in February 1971 to protest what he considered an attempt to interfere with his musical programming. The show became A Prairie Home Companion when he returned in October.
Keillor has attributed the idea for the live Saturday night radio program to his 1973 assignment to write about the Grand Ole Opry for The New Yorker, but he had already begun showcasing local musicians on the morning show, despite limited studio space for them, and in August 1973 The Minneapolis Tribune reported MER's plans for a Saturday night version of A Prairie Home Companion with live musicians.
A Prairie Home Companion debuted as an old-style variety show before a live audience on July 6, 1974, featuring guest musicians and a cadre cast doing musical numbers and comic skits replete with elaborate live sound effects. The show was punctuated by spoof commercial spots from such fictitious sponsors as Jack's Auto Repair ("All tracks lead to Jack's where the bright shining lights show you the way to complete satisfaction") and Powdermilk Biscuits, which "give shy persons the strength to get up and do what needs to be done." Later imaginary sponsors have included Ralph's Pretty Good Grocery ("If you can't find it at Ralph's, you can probably get along without it"), Bertha's Kitty Boutique, the Ketchup Advisory Board (which touted "the natural mellowing agents of ketchup"), the American Duct Tape Council, and Bebop-A-Reebop Rhubarb Pie ("sweetening the sour taste of failure through the generations"). The show also contains parodic serial melodramas, such as The Adventures of Guy Noir, Private Eye and The Lives of the Cowboys. After the show's intermission, Keillor reads clever and often humorous greetings to friends and family at home submitted by members of the theater audience in exchange for an honorarium.
Also in the second half of the show, the broadcasts showcase a weekly monologue by Keillor entitled The News from Lake Wobegon. The town is based in part on Keillor's own hometown of Anoka, Minnesota, and in part on Freeport and other towns in Stearns County, where he lived in the early 1970s. Lake Wobegon is a quintessential but fictional Minnesotan small town "where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average." A Prairie Home Companion ran until 1987, when Keillor decided to end it; he worked on other projects, including another live radio program, "The American Radio Company of the Air"...which had almost the same format as A Prairie Home Companion's...for several years. In 1993 he began producing A Prairie Home Companion again, in a format nearly identical to the original's, and has done so since. On A Prairie Home Companion, Keillor receives no billing or credit (except "written by Sarah Bellum," a joking reference to his own brain); his name is not mentioned unless a guest addresses him by his first name or the initials "G. K.," though some sketches feature Keillor as his alter ego, Carson Wyler.
A Prairie Home Companion regularly goes on the road and is broadcast live from popular venues around the United States, often featuring local celebrities and skits incorporating local color. Keillor also sometimes gives broadcast performances of a similar nature that do not carry the "Prairie Home Companion" brand, as in his 2008 appearance at the Oregon Bach Festival.
Keillor is also the host of The Writer's Almanac which, like A Prairie Home Companion, is produced and distributed by American Public Media. The Writer's Almanac is also available online The Writer's Almanac with Garrison Keillor | Analysis of Baseball by May Swenson and via daily e-mail installments by subscription.
Keillor has written numerous magazine and newspaper articles, and over a dozen books for adults as well as children. In addition to The New Yorker, he has written for The Atlantic Monthly and Salon.com.
He also authored an advice column at Salon.com under the name "Mr. Blue." Following a heart operation, he resigned on September 4, 2001, his last column titled "Every dog has his day":
Illness offers the chance to think long thoughts about the future (praying that we yet have one, dear God), and so I have, and so this is the last column of Mr. Blue, under my authorship, for Salon. Over the years, Mr. Blue's strongest advice has come down on the side of freedom in our personal lives, freedom from crushing obligation and overwork and family expectations and the freedom to walk our own walk and be who we are. And some of the best letters have been addressed to younger readers trapped in jobs like steel suits, advising them to bust loose and go off and have an adventure. Some of the advisees have written back to inform Mr. Blue that the advice was taken and that the adventure changed their lives. This was gratifying.
So now I am simply taking my own advice. Cut back on obligations: Promote a certain elegant looseness in life. Simple as that. Winter and spring, I almost capsized from work, and in the summer I had a week in St. Mary's Hospital to sit and think, and that's the result. Every dog has his day and I've had mine and given whatever advice was mine to give (and a little more). It was exhilarating to get the chance to be useful, which is always an issue for a writer (What good does fiction do?), and Mr. Blue was a way to be useful. Nothing human is beneath a writer's attention; the basic questions about how to attract a lover and what to do with one once you get one and how to deal with disappointment in marriage are the stuff that fiction is made from, so why not try to speak directly? And so I did. And now it's time to move on.
In 2004 Keillor published a collection of political essays, Homegrown Democrat, and in June 2005 he began a syndicated newspaper column called "The Old Scout", which often addresses political issues. The column ran at Salon.com until April 2010 and as of July 2010 is on hiatus "so that he can finish a screenplay and start writing a novel".
Keillor wrote the screenplay for the 2006 movie A Prairie Home Companion, directed by Robert Altman. (Keillor also appears in the movie.)
On November 1, 2006, Keillor opened an independent bookstore in the historic Cathedral Hill area of Saint Paul, Minnesota. "Common Good Books, G. Keillor, Prop." is located at the southwest corner of Selby and N. Western Avenues (in the Blair Arcade Building, Suite 14, in the basement, below Nina's Coffee Cafe). Cathedral Hill is in the Summit-University neighborhood. The bookstore's opening was covered by the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
In 1994, Keillor was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame.
"Welcome to Minnesota" markers in interstate rest areas near the state's borders include statements such as "Like its neighbors, the thirty-second state grew as a collection of small farm communities, many settled by immigrants from Scandinavia and Germany. Two of the nation's favorite fictional small towns -- Sinclair Lewis's Gopher Prairie and Garrison Keillor's Lake Wobegon -- reflect that heritage." Welcome to Minnesota - Minnesota Historical Markers on Waymarking.com
In 2007, The Moth, a NYC-based not-for-profit storytelling organization, awarded Garrison Keillor with the first The Moth Award - Honoring the Art of the Raconteur at the annual Moth Ball. The Moth - Annual Moth Ball
In September 2007, Keillor was awarded the 2007 John Steinbeck Award, given to artists who capture "the spirit of Steinbeck's empathy, commitment to democratic values, and belief in the dignity of the common man."
In 2005, Keillor's attorneys sent a cease-and-desist letter to MNSPeak.com regarding their production of a T-Shirt bearing the inscription "A Prairie Ho Companion." Sean Higgins on Garrison Keillor & Internet on National Review Online
In 2006, after a visit to a United Methodist Church in Highland Park, Texas, Keillor created a local controversy with his remarks about the event, The United Methodist Portal including the rhetorical suggestion of a connection between event attendees and supporters of torture and a statement creating an impression of political intimidation: "I walked in, was met by two burly security men ... and within 10 minutes was told by three people that this was the Bushes' church and that it would be better if I didn't talk about politics." The security detail is purportedly routine for the venue, and according to attendees Keillor did not interact with any audience members between his arrival and his lecture. Dallas Morning News | News for Dallas, Texas | Columnist Jacquielynn Floyd | Dallas-Fort Worth News Supposedly, before Keillor's remarks, participants in the event had considered the visit to have been cordial and warm. GuideLive.com | Arts/Entertainment News and Events | Dallas-Fort Worth | The Dallas Morning News | Books
In 2007, Keillor wrote a column that in part criticized "stereotypical" gay parents, who he said were "sardonic fellows with fussy hair who live in over-decorated apartments with a striped sofa and a small weird dog and who worship campy performers." In response to the strong reactions of many readers, Keillor said
I live in a small world -- the world of entertainment, musicians, writers -- in which gayness is as common as having brown eyes.... And in that small world, we talk openly and we kid each other a lot. But in the larger world, gayness is controversial...and so gay people feel besieged to some degree and rightly so.... My column spoke as we would speak in my small world and it was read by people in the larger world and thus the misunderstanding.
In 2008, Keillor created a controversy in St. Paul when he filed a lawsuit against his neighbors' plans to build an addition on their home, citing his need for "light and air" and a view of "open space and beyond". Keillor's home is significantly larger than others in his neighborhood and would still be significantly larger than his neighbors' planned addition. Katherine Kersten » Blog Archive » Mr. Keillor’s Unneighborly Ways Keillor came to an undisclosed settlement with his neighbors shortly after the story became public. Mediation ends Keillor's feud with neighbor
Due to his distinctive voice, Keillor is often used as a voiceover actor. Some notable appearances include:
Voiceover artist for Honda UK's "the Power of Dreams" campaign. The campaign's most memorable advertisement is the 2003 Honda Accord commercial Cog, which features a Rube Goldberg Machine (W. Heath Robinson for those in the UK) made entirely of car parts. The commercial ends with Keillor asking, "Isn't it nice when things just work?" Since then, Keillor has voiced the tagline for most if not all Honda UK advertisements, and even sang the voiceover in the 2004 Honda Diesel commercial "Grrr". His most recent ad was a reworking of an existing commercial with digitally added England flags to tie in with the World Cup. Keillor's tagline was "Come on, England, keep the dream alive."
Voice of the Norse god Odin in an episode of the Disney animated series "Hercules".
Voice of Walt Whitman and other historical figures in Ken Burns's documentary series The Civil War and Baseball.
His style, particularly his speaking voice, is often the subject of parody. The Simpsons parodies Keillor in an episode where Homer is shown watching a Keillor-like monologist on television, and upon hitting the set, exclaiming "Stupid TV! Be more funny!", which has become one of The Simpsons' oft-quoted catchphrases.
One Boston radio critic likens Keillor and his "down comforter voice" to "a hypnotist intoning, 'You are getting sleepy now'," while noting that Keillor does play to listeners' intelligence. Keillor rarely reads his monologue from a script.
In the bonus DVD material for the album Venue Songs by band They Might Be Giants, John Hodgman delivers a fictitious newscast in which he explains that "The Artist Formerly Known as Public Radio Host Garrison Keillor" and his "legacy of Midwestern pledge-drive funk" inspired the band's first "venue song."
In the WB series Gilmore Girls, season 5, episode 18 "To Live and Let Diorama", Lane Kim is babbling at music store owner Sophie Bloom (Carol King) when Bloom interrupts saying "Oh My God Garrison Keillor, what is your point?!?".
Fellow Minnesotan, radio host, comedian, actor, and politician Al Franken, defending his decision to leave Minnesota for a career in show business, commented during a speech in February 2004 in Manchester, New Hampshire that "we can't all be Garrison Keillor."
Bret Easton Ellis references Keillor in the 1991 novel American Psycho, when the main character Patrick Bateman decides to flip through the latest hardcover he bought, "something by Garrison Keillor."
Pennsylvanian singer-songwriter Tom Flannery wrote a song in 2003 entitled, "I Want a Job Like Garrison Keillor's."