Garrison Keillor — Storyteller, Humorist

Gary Edward “Garrison” Keillor, born on August 7, 1942 in Anoka, Minnesota to Grace Ruth (Denham) Keillor and John Philip Keillor, was one of six children.

Keillor started on Minnesota Educational Radio, the forerunner of Minnesota Public Radio, in 1969 on The Morning Program. The show’s eclectic music was a major divergence from the station’s classical fare. He resigned in February 1971 in protest to what he attributed as interference with his musical programming.  As part of his protest, he played nothing but the Beach Boy’s “Help Me, Rhonda”.

The show returned in October, renamed A Prairie Home Companion. It now included live musical performances in the cramped studio and ran until 1987 when he decided to end it.

“I believe in looking reality straight in the eye and denying it.” Photo Courtesy of Prairie Home Productions

“I believe in looking reality straight in the eye and denying it.” Photo Courtesy of Prairie Home Productions

“What?” you say – it’s still on the air. He worked on several other live radio programs including “The American Radio Company of the Air”, which maintained nearly the same format as A Prairie Home Companion.

In 1993, he reintroduced A Prairie Home Companion receiving no credits except under the nom de plume, Sarah Bellum. As a Funny Names enthusiast, I love the shout out to his cerebellum.

The program goes on the road regularly with live broadcasts from venues around the United States incorporating skits with local flavor.

I saw him live in Seattle and found out that as a female Seattleite I could chop a cord of wood and catch a salmon all before breakfast. Then after breakfast head out to the University of Washington to attain my PhD, I was thrilled. (Note—the only PhD’s I possess are the letters on my keyboard, but I did catch a salmon before breakfast once.)

I don’t know about you, but his distinctive voice and story telling style makes me want to curl up in a flannel blanket with a hot cup of cocoa, lean back, and learn more about his fictitious sponsors like the Ketchup Advisory Board, a sample of which might be obtained at Ralph’s Pretty Good Grocery, “because if you can’t find it at Ralph’s, you can probably get along without it”.

He’s been married three times to women with impressive names as well: Mary Guntzel, Ulla Skaerved, and current wife, Jenny Lind Nilsson.

On November 1, 2006 he opened “Common Good Books — G. Keillor, prop.”, an independent bookstore located in St. Paul, Minnesota. Painted on the shop’s window below “Classics, all sizes”, is listed “Quality Trash” and “Midwestern Lit”. Doesn’t that make you want to go there?

Keillor is a prolific author as well with over 100 written or recorded works.

My hats off to you, Mr. Keillor, for giving us Lake Wobegon, “where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average.”

Tracy — Fannie Cranium’s Guide to Irreverent Wisdom

Proof that I do not make these things up. I apologize to any animal rights organizations because he was delicious.

Proof that I don’t make these things up and do wear a hat. I apologize to any animal rights organizations because he was delicious.


About Fannie Cranium

Writing since she could first hold a pen, Tracy Perkins formed her alter ego, "Fannie Cranium" at the suggestion of her husband. Tracy understands smiling makes people wonder what she’s been up to.
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29 Responses to Garrison Keillor — Storyteller, Humorist

  1. Dave says:

    Sarah Bellum…. I love a good brain pun! I’ve heard several of those in the past few days.

    • amb says:

      Wasn’t that awesome?! This is one of my favourite posts of Fannie’s, I think, just because “Sarah Bellum” really pushes it over the top *

      * Liz and I have been recruited to handle comments today since Fannie’s on vacation in the Rocky Mountains …. see, Dave, all the cool kids on the BoFN crew are visiting Canada …

  2. Dave says:

    Now hold on, you’re answering – by proxy – for Fannie today, right?

    Seems like an opportunity to have some fun 🙂 🙂 🙂 😉

    So Fannie, which song do you love more: Barry Manilow’s “Copacabana” or Billy Ray Cyrus’ “Achy Breaky Heart” and why?

    • amb says:

      Copacabana!!! I’m a FANIilow, didn’t you know that about me? (See what I did there?)

      I love Copacabana, seriously. My friend Deb and I have a long-standing tradition of texting each other the lyrics – in all caps – whenever we hear it on the radio. But I feel like Fannie would pick that one too, because of Barry’s snazzy stage presence and renowned collaborations with the very Ethel-esque Bette Midler.

      That was fun! Next question?

      • Dave says:

        Haha, I DID see what you did there! 🙂

        Let’s take it one step further, FANNIElow,

        We all know you love to bridge generational cultural divides, dressing up like Saturday Night Fever-era John Travolta while singing top teeny-bopper hits. So tell me, Fannie, which artist has you groovin’ in your polyester pants right now: Justin Bieber, One Direction, or the Jonas Brothers?

        (Heading off to campus right now to finish my ECG and fluid balance lab reports. Will send more questions soon!)

        • amb says:

          Well played 🙂

          Ok, let’s see … One Direction has the best hair, and Justin provides that sense of “this is so ridiculous that it must be true” that permeates Fannie’s best chapters …

          … but I’m going to have to go with the Jonas Brothers for this one. Two of Fannie’s siblings have made appearances in “Irreverent Wisdom” and The Cranium Sisters have definite star power!

        • Liz says:

          seems I’m a bit late to the party, but had a baking playdate that had to be kept. (you’ll find some delish muffins at facebook deLiz–made enough for everyone) Amb, looks like you’ve done a great job fielding Dave’s inane questions ( 😉 ) Please be sure to hop down to my comment below and respond to that as I don’t feel right about responding to my own words. I can do weird, but that’s too weird–haha.

          I will check in again later to see if Dave has thrown any other curveballs your way, though you’re doing very well.

          Hope the lab reports went well, Dave.

          • amb says:

            Honestly. The things I do for that boy. Off to check out the deLiz page – glad you’re here to restore some sanity to today’s proceedings, my friend!

  3. Arto says:

    I feel great Scandinavian manlove for Garrison Keillor. Anyone who can write and regularly perform terrific songs about rhubarb pie deserves a lot of credit.

    I gotta go to this bookshop – and it seems to be in Liz’s neck o’ the woods. Maybe she can go in for us and report back on the quality of the trash.

    • amb says:

      He’s totally the American version of my beloved Stuart Mclean, who talks/writes about The Vinyl Cafe record store. Their motto is, “We may not be big, but we’re small.”

      Also: “great Scandinavian manlove” made me laugh out loud at my desk. Seriously. People were staring.

      • Arto says:

        “We may not be big, but we’re small.” I like that. Nice ring to it.

        I hope you managed to convince your coworkers you were laughing out of the delight that working in the corporate world brings you rather than any unrelated shenanigans. They should buy that.

    • Liz says:

      been there, done that and per my just-posted comment below the bookstore is great fun. It’s like each book has been handpicked by Mr. Keillor himself to sit on the shelves. Some of them are pretty trashy, but in an intelligent way. Case study #1: An entire dictionary of words that have the F word in them. (yes, that F word which I maybe have broken the “keeping it clean” rule by alluding to, but just want to give an example of what I meant by intelligent trash 😉 The book was more hilarious than raunchy.) Lots of good clean books, too.

      • Arto says:

        You’ve been everywhere Liz. Yes, must make said store a destination next time I’m that way. Might be soon as Leslie has relatives in that there area yonder. Eager to peruse the collection and sample some of that unassuming but honest coffee I’m sure they serve upstairs. Do they have good muffins?

        • Liz says:

          for sure there are a few places I haven’t been, Arto, but thanks for the vote of confidence 😉 I know not about Nina’s muffins, but when you make the trip remember that you’ll find the coffee shop over the previous Common Good location, not its current spot. And have Leslie give me a call when you’re in town 😉 By “area yonder,” do you mean Minnesota or the midwest in general?

          • Arto says:

            Ah, good catch about the new location – will have to take care when searching for those muffins. Yes, over Edina, MN so not too far from your neck of the woods – we were just there about a year and a half back or so. Nice place.

  4. Liz says:

    Tracy!!! Love that you’ve immortalized Minnesotan GK on BoFN. Must admit to not being a big fan of the man (I think I’m the only one, though, as he’s a popular guy), but your Sarah Bellum line had me laughing out loud 🙂 I AM a fan of Common Goods–it recently moved into bigger quarters and it is the coolest bookstore I’ve been to yet. Not in the sense that it’s big or flashy. Rather it’s as if it’s been curated–the books for sale are top-notch each in their own right. And the categories are just as you’ve written. Have you been? He also owns a coffee shop (Nina’s) that sits above Common Grounds previous location.

    His voice is really something else. Seems a brooding fellow for sure. Good pick on the names 🙂

  5. Liz says:

    p.s. Tracy–great picture with the fish!!!

  6. Everything I never needed to know about GK, and then some.

  7. Reblogged this on Fannie Cranium's and commented:

    Here is what I posted last week at the Blog of Funny Names. It’s my first time near a computer in over a week. Enjoy.

  8. Wow Amb and Liz thanks so much for covering for me. Loved the comment thread!

    I love the by-play between Amb and Dave and I’m totally a FANNIElow. 🙂

    • amb says:


      What, you mean Fannie’s blog post isn’t actually all about me? 😉 Hi Fannie! Welcome back – you were missed! Hope the vacation was wonderful and I can’t wait to hear all about it!

      • Yes Dave, what does she win? We can totally invent an award for this.

        Vacation was awesome, the Lords of Cosmic Jest came along for a ride. It will take at least a week before I’ve got the wind back in my sails.

    • Liz says:

      amb and Dave are something, that’s for sure. Did you see them heating up the Pappy Van Winkle post? I finally had to leave the room because the steam emanating from them both was making it hard to see (not to mention breathe). Haha.

      Glad you’re back, Tracy. You were missed 🙂

  9. Pingback: Mama Mia, What an Ear Worm! | Fannie Cranium's

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