At one point I contacted producer Christine Tschida about the situation and she basically said that none of the material was striking Keillor's fancy. And to be honest, not everything I sent was a gem. There were a couple of bits I resurrected from other work to submit and they were weak. I couldn't get as biting as SNL would get on topical events (or as stupid) so my skits meandered around. But I kept at it. And at it. Although the time gap is about a year and a half, I was technically in the 2000-2001 season. To my way of thinking, that means I got something in the show for my first two season in a row.
This was a quirky sketch. PHC was on the road once again, this time in Laramie, Wyoming. We had gotten word that the show wanted site-specific material, so I did some research into Laramie and decided on two bits. One was ambitious; Garrison Keillor liked to do a kind of overview of the place they were broadcasting from when they traveled, so I decided to write up one of these whimsical histories about Laramie. I mean, it's one thing to write a sketch that GK is in, it's another to actually write for GK himself.
And the second bit was a more generic take on the Hollywood westerns which were inspired by towns like Laramie. Two, I thought, very solid pieces. So here's what happened...
GK combined material from each into a bit called "When Things were Different," hosted by the Old Story Teller. I have no idea if this was a running bit beforehand, but he took lines here and set-ups there along with dialogue and gags and came up with this.
On air credits were the usual group of joke names and "Russ Ringsac and...and Laura Levine." So, no mention of me at all. At this point I emailed Tschida the producer and asked her about that. Her response? Keillor misread the copy. She apologized. He just skipped my name. Now, listening to it for the first time in ages, I can hear it, he loses his place while reading. That's live radio. At least the online credits listed me:
© Garrison Keillor 2001, with material from Dan Fiorella
To be honest, I didn't get too worked up about them merging these skits into one skit, because a lot of the Hollywood skit was pieced together from other things I had written. For instance, here's a bit of Galaxy Ranger trivia; the the Hollywood West skit ends with a song. I talk about westerns being make in space so I grabbed the lyrics from my Galaxy Ranger song, "Oh Tortuna." I redid the refrain to be "Cowboys in Space," but the rest of the song is the same.
That section about the Pony Express? I lifted the prose from my novel (then in-progress), "Novel Concept."
And "The Man Who Sued Liberty Valance" was one of my "Cold Draft" sketches that I had written years before as a follow up to my "It's a Wonderful Life" parody.
Which brings us to The Old Story Teller from theMay 19, 2001 broadcast of PHC from the University of Wyoming in Laramie...