by Christian Carvajal for OLY ARTS
“Well, it’s been a quiet week in Lake Wobegon, Minnesota…” With those familiar words, listeners to A Prairie Home Companion on National Public Radio have delighted for decades to the small-town shenanigans related by master writer and storyteller Garrison Keillor. Keillor hosted the show from 1974, when it was first performed before live audiences in Saint Paul, Minnesota, to Keillor’s ostensible retirement from radio last year. Keillor’s last episode of the show was broadcast from the Hollywood Bowl and earned a congratulatory phone call from President Obama. It began as drive-time installments for Minnesota Educational Radio, recorded at St. John’s University in the aptly named town of Collegeville.
Chris Thile has hosted the show since October 2016. Meanwhile, 74-year-old Keillor has hit the road for a tour of readings and lecture appearances. His work is a kind of standup comedy for moderate, mellow people, good Episcopalian and Lutheran Democrats like Keillor himself. Among the pieces his smoky whisker of a voice have delivered on tour are an elegant parody of Poe’s “The Raven,” in which the titular bird quoth ominously, “Donald Trump.” And of course Keillor will provide an update from Lake Wobegon, where, famously, “all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking and all the children are above average.”
Keillor says Lake Wobegon is entirely fictional, devised, he says, because “people want stories to be true.” He imagines it located somewhere around Stearns County in central Minnesota—and lo and behold, a search of Google Earth finds a “Lake Wobegon Trail” in just that location. (Apparently, fact paid tribute to fiction.) The town’s evocative name originated, or so Keillor alleges, as a Native American phrase that means “the place where we waited all day in the rain.” As longtime Keillor fans know, if one had to wait all day in the rain somewhere, one could do a whole lot worse.
What: An Evening With Garrison Keillor
Where: The Washington Center for the Performing Arts,
512 Washington St. SE, Olympia
When: 7:30 p.m. Monday, April 10
How much: $36-$81
Learn more: 360-753-8586 | The Washington Center