October 21, 2023
Carolina Theatre, Greensboro, NC
Garrison Keillor brings his solo show to Greensboro, NC. Be prepared to laugh and sing along as you celebrate all that unites us.
September 28, 2023
Crest Theatre, Sacramento, CA
Garrison Keillor brings his solo show to Sacramento, CA. Be prepared to laugh and sing along as you celebrate all that unites us.
September 17, 2023
The Caverns, Pelham, TN
Garrison Keillor brings his solo show to The Caverns in Pelham, TN. Be prepared to laugh and sing along as you celebrate all that unites us.
August 27, 2023
Big Top Chautauqua, Bayfield, WI
Garrison Keillor and his Prairie Home Friends return to Big Top Chautauqua in Bayfield WI. Singalongs, stories, duets, comedy and a hot band. Be prepared to laugh and sing along as you celebrate all that unites us.
August 7, 2023
Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Ctr, Old Saybrook, CT
Old Saybrook, CT (2nd show)
Garrison Keillor brings his solo show to Old Saybrook, CT. Be prepared to laugh and sing along as you celebrate all that unites us.
When I heard that UConn won the NCAA championship I thought of Inuits playing basketball on skates, a cheery thought, I having left the polar ice cap of Minnesota and flown to New York where it was spring. The cherry blossoms were out, runners trotting around the Reservoir, the dogs had taken off their down vests. My beloved was waiting at the door, I could smell the coffee. I look at her and see that I am a privileged man: it isn’t my wealthy dad or my Harvard degree or private jet or my network of influential pals, it’s her. That’s why I’m happy. She is my best-informed critic and yet we’ve made a good life together, a terrific accomplishment.
Cheerfulness is a great American virtue, I think: the essence of who we are when we’re cooking with gas: rise and shine, qwitcher bellyaching, step up to the plate and swing for the fences, do your best and forget the rest, da doo ron ron ron da doo ron ron.
Thanks to progressives, it isn’t taught in school anymore. The kids don’t sing the sweet land of liberty and the spacious skies and the coming of the glory of the Lord, they learn about systemic racism and social injustice. It’s rare among writers, maybe because the failure rate is so high, anyway it went out of style in American Lit long ago. And the 87 percent of American writers who are down in the dumps give the rest of us a bad name.
“Show me a hero and I’ll write you a tragedy,” said Scott Fitzgerald, who was disappointed that World War I ended before he could go to France and get shot. So instead he became the golden boy of 1920 and a couple decades later dropped dead, an expired celeb, at 44. And ever after him, American writers tried to be Euro and affected a heroic hopelessness, a traumatized turgidity tinged with suicidal sensitivity, which was an act, like wearing a black beret and leading an ocelot on a leash. They ignored the millions of Europeans who made their way through Ellis Island to escape that very same hopelessness, hoping to find a sunny street of bungalows with well-kept yards and friendly neighbors. Something like south Minneapolis.
I think of cheerfulness as a Midwestern virtue. The food is unremarkable, the music and art are mostly imported, the scenery is nothing you’d drive long distances to see, and the people tend to be modest to a fault and seldom raise their voices in anger except to loved ones. But there’s an everyday cheeriness that eases the strains. I learned it from John and Grace, my parents, who were engaged for five years during the Depression, married in the scandal of premarital sex, and in 1947, after the Great War, bought an acre of cornfield and built a house, and made it a cheerful place with a big garden and a nice lawn and a piano, which both of them played.
The secret of cheerfulness is, as Buddha and Jesus both said, to give up wanting material things. This fits the Midwest where there is so much less to covet. Jesus said, “Think not what ye shall eat or what ye shall drink,” and to make this clearer He married me to a strong woman who guards against animal fats and who was so happy when I went off alcohol twenty years ago that I haven’t considered resuming the habit. Every Sunday I get a sip from a goblet in a deacon’s hand and that’s enough. Sunday dinner is a lovely salad of greens and cucumber and onions. “You don’t drink enough water,” she says and pours me a glass from the tap. I used to enjoy gin and vermouth but no more, and not wanting is what makes me cheerful, just as Jesus said.
When I was your age, my dears, I coveted books and I filled bookcases with them and now I’m giving them away and also my four honorary degrees, all from Lutheran colleges, which I gave to Goodwill. Nobody gives honorary degrees to male humorists anymore and I’m okay with that.
What I need is this woman. If she left me I would throw myself off the Brooklyn Bridge, but she hasn’t and so I won’t. We’ll have a salad and she’ll have a glass of sauvignon blanc and I’ll kiss her and get a taste of it. And then I’ll write 750 words about cheerfulness. The End.