Friday, September 11, 2009

A Life in Comedy by Garrison Keillor

Lake Wobegon is only mentioned in A Life in Comedy by Garrison Keillor, an audiobook which is mostly drawn from sources other than A Prairie Home Companion. No Bunsens, Inqvists, or Krebsbachs. These stories and comments from the man from Minnesota instead come from a solo performance at the Yale Repertory Theatre in 2003. For his night at Yale, he drew from his commencement addresses, magazine articles, and books, especially The Book of Guys. As he jokes at the beginning of "The Midlife Crisis of Dionysus," he is trying to show some range, prove that he knows about life outside the Midwest. So he talks about living in Denmark, the misfortunes of Greek gods, and visiting the Grand Canyon. Ironically, he often ends up back in Minnesota in his stories.

As you can guess from the title, the reason to listen to Keillor is mostly to laugh. He elicits some laughs with silly details, such as old geezers playing golf at Plaid Pants Village, but most come from the funny twists in stories about everyday lives of almost common people. Every character has some oddities that are both endearing and difficult to maintain. I especially like the final story "Joe" about a religious sculptor who does not want a eulogy at his funeral. Keillor gives him one anyway with the story, telling how the shy man took his family to a miserable circus and later fed an elephant peanuts from their car.

I also really like his three run-on sentences called "Jack Jack Kerouac," which acknowledges a guy's desire to be free of the trappings of a house full of stuff.

I suspect most of these pieces were read, but Keillor makes you think that he is just talking with you. If you have a two and a half hour drive ahead of you, A Life in Comedy would be a good companion.

Keillor, Garrison. A Life in Comedy. HighBridge Audio, 2003. ISBN 1565116968

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks, this sounds like a good recording for Keillor's fans.

Hope he's getting well (after his small stroke).