Keillor Looking for Funny People
September 21, 1998
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) _ Are you unemployed? And funny? Garrison Keillor may be looking for you.
The humorist needs an extra hand to keep "A Prairie Home Companion,″ his acclaimed radio program, witty and entertaining.
Minnesota Public Radio, which produces the show, placed ads recently in The New York Times, Variety, the Los Angeles Times and on the Internet.
"He was hoping to really be bowled over, but he hasn’t been bowled over yet″ by the responses, said producer Christine Tschida.
"With a two-hour show every week for 34 weeks a year, that is an awful lot of material,″ Tschida said. ``Garrison does write nearly the entire program. It would be nice to have a few other submissions to take off some of the pressure.″
Keillor’s Minnesota-based variety show started in 1974 and is broadcast on more than 410 public radio stations.
I must have seen it in the NY Times. Out of all of those ads, I made the cut. I never realized what a big deal that was, really, until now. I never had the nerve to ask the producer how many submissions they got. I just knew I was in. I had had my fair share of rejections over the years, so, no, I wasn't about to question an actual gig. Of course, I was clueless to what I was doing. And I'm sure the fact that I had never listened to the show was a handicap in the long run. I would counter that I do have a good ear and I was certain that I would quickly pick up the voice of the show. I'm pretty certain that might have slipped out during my communication with the producer, Christine Tschida, because she sent me a couple of CDs of the best of Prairie Home Companion to listen to to help me along.
Anyway, all of that consideration of how lucky I was got lost in the whirlwind of creating of new material every week. I wrote on the ferry. I wrote at lunch. I wrote during lulls at work. At one point I was working two jobs so I was writing jokes and bits during my shifts as a proxy solicitor calling stock share holders. I never had the time to revel in my victories (yet I was always able to get dwell on my rejections), writing was always just one other thing in the mix of my life. Writing was something I did, not something I was.
ETA: Yes, it was from that. I found the typewritten script in my files. The revue didn't go anywhere, but a bunch of writers had written a lot of good material for it. Maybe that could be a blog post.
This one sketch, "Dial M for Marriage" was actually written to be a series of black-outs through the course of the show to cover scene changes and whatnot. The bit was two telephone answering machines on stage left and right, stage dark, a spot on each phone and actors off stage reading the dialogue (in the dawning age of answering machines and pre-cell phones). So, no stage direction, no sight gags, just dialogue. Which, actually, makes it a decent radio play. With Rawlins' permission (or maybe not...sometimes I took a "wait & see" approach about telling him when I submitted our stuff) I assembled the skit into a single unit and submitted it to PHC. They passed. So, let's haul it out for now. I'm probably violating some kind of NDA or such to post it here, but does anyone care at this point?
Dial M for Marriage
By Dan Fiorella & John Rawlins
(SS: Joanne, Secretary, Angela, TR: Greg)
SS: (machine) Hello, this is Joanne, I'm not in my office right now, but my machine is. And it'll take a message. So at the sound of the beep, please leave your name and number and I'll get back to you.
TR: (phone) Joanne it's Greg, How's my favorite wife? Before we get too busy here, I just wanted to say happy anniversary. Last night was great but tonight will be better. Talk to you later. All my love. Bye.
TR: (machine) Yes, you've reached Greg. But I'm away from my desk at the moment. Please leave a message on my voice mail after the tone,
SS: (phone) Greg, it's Joanne. Your wife is fine and says happy anniversary to you too, darling. Last night was wonderful. You've made me so happy.
Why don't we start celebrating early with lunch? I can make reservations at Mario's for one, okay? I'll get the booth in the back. See you then.
TR: Hi, Joanne, it's Greg. They've got me away from my office but I was just thinking, why don't we have lunch? I heard about his new place called Ike's. It's supposed to be primo, with a truly awesome pasta salad. I'll book us for noon.
SS: Greg, it's Joanne. Good thing you called. I called Mario's. The booth in the back isn't there anymore. So I'll meet you at Ike's at 12. Gotta run. Bye-bye.
TR: Joanne, it's me. The boss wants me to wait until one for lunch. I'm in Simpson's office. Simpson says he's not feeling well. Good thing I got your message, so I'll meet you at Mario's at one. Thank heaven for voice mail. See you then, bye.
SS: Greg, where the hell are you? I was waiting an hour at Ike's over an hour. No you. No message Nothing. And now I missed my afternoon appointment. Thank you very much.
TR: Joanne, .Where the hell are you? I'm wasting valuable time here breaking bread sticks at Mario's. And running up quite a tab, too. I've had my fill, so I'm going back to the office. Still hungry, I may add. Goodbye.
SS: Greg, I came rushing down to Mario's here to try and catch you, taking a second lunch to do it and you're not here either. Where are you eating nowadays? Now I have to rush back to meet with Mrs. Johnson at 3. I guess I'll see you at Tai Chi's, Six o'clock. You promised a memorable occasion. Talk to you later.
SS: (secretary) Yes, Joanne Smith, I'm calling for Mrs. Johnson. Her flight's been delayed and she wants to know if you change the meeting to six o'clock. It is important, if you can.
TR: Okay, Joanne, I made the reservations for six, just like you said. Simpson's still sick. They took him to the hospital. I'll be in his office for awhile. The number is 555-37---
SS: Greg, Greg, I can't make it at six! Call me back, please. I didn't get Simpson's number, my machine cut you of---
TR: Are you going to return my calls or what? Is dinner on or not? I'm still in Simpson's office. The hospital called. He just went under the knife. Call me, or be in your office once in a while.
SS: Cripes aren't ever in? Don't you even check your machine ever? I can't make dinner. I don't have Simpson's number. And I just came back from the boss' office where he yelled at me for taking two hours for lunch, then eating at my desk.
TR: Joanne, it's Greg. Got your message. So excuse me for being busy, would ya? It's not like my fault Simpson had to go in for emergency brain surgery. I'll change Tai Chi's to seven. Think you can handle that? I hope you don't screw up dinner the way you screwed up lunch. Happy anniversary, my foot. Oh, and Simpson's number is 555---
SS: The way I screwed up lunch??? You pompous ass! Just you be there at seven! And bring a present! And I don't care if I never get Simpson's stupid number, so there!
TR: It's Greg. I got trouble and I don't want to hear it. Simpson died. They're dumping his work on me and I'm gonna be stuck here late. Thank goodness I get some support around here at least. I'll get back to you.
SS: Okay, phone-boy, wrap your brain around this: I changed our reservations to nine. I've got a big client who just popped into town. I'll kill some time with him. Think you can manage that?
TR: Handle it? Handle it? Handle it? Handle this, woman!
(GIGGLING IS HEARD)
See you later, dear.
SS: Now I've got problems. My boss wants me to give my client the whole stupid presentation tonight. Says I owe him the hour from lunch. I'm gonna be late. I'll make something to eat when I get home. Let me know if it should be for two.
TR: Tell you what, dear: this is gonna be a late one. You go show your nice little client all your nice little ideas and I'll muddle through somehow. I'll get a bite here. Goodbye, Angela---no, no, goodbye Joanne, Joanne...oh damn---
SS: Who the hell is Angela, you worm?
SS: (Angela) Hi, Greg. It's Angela. Nine o'clock at Mario's is fine. See you later.
TR: Worm? Worm? You cow!
SS: Who's this?
TR: Oh, Joanne, is that you? Where's your machine? I was expecting your machine.
SS: It's off. I'm here. What do you want?
TR: Nothing. I just wanted to leave a message on your machine.
SS: Well, you don't have to. I'm right here. What is it?
TR: A message, is all. I didn't think you would be in.
SS: But I am.
TR: Well, it was going to be a nasty message. It's not the same in person.
TR: I was going to say a lot of hurtful, bitter things but it wasn't for you, it was for your machine.
SS: But it's my machine. I would have heard the hurtful, bitter things.
TR: Well, maybe. So I probably wouldn't have said any of that to you live.
SS: Well, I guess, well, I was so mad when I was talking to your machine---
TR: Me, too. I'm sorry. It's been a rough day.
SS: Me, too.
TR: Simpson died.
SS: So I heard.
TR: I just, I would never talk to you like that.
SS: Me neither.
TR: But we did.
SS: Stupid voice mail.
TR: Can we rewind this anniversary and tape over it?
SS: I would like to.
TR: Then let me book us on a flight to Bermuda. Just us. No phones, no faxes, no voice mail, no e-mail. Just us. Together. The way it should be.
SS: You're on. Call me back as soon as you book us.
TR: You bet.
SS: Or leave a message.