On Friday Sept. 30, I took my seat at the Emilie K. Asplundh Concert Hall and waited for the show to begin. With no introduction, an older man walked onto the stage and the crowd cheered. He held his fist to the audience and hummed a starting note. Holding it until nearly the entire hall was participating, he began leading everyone in singing “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee.”
In doing this, he gained the attention of every audience member and them feel comfortable like they were a part of the show. What a brilliant way to start a one-man performance.
Who is this, you may ask?
He is none other than Garrison Keillor. Keillor is one of the most well-known radio show hosts. He has been hosting “A Prairie Home Companion” since 1974—that’s 42 years. The event’s program stated that each week, some four million listeners on more than 600 public radio stations coast to coast tune in to hear his live radio variety show.
If you didn’t know who he was previously, you probably now understand how excited I was that he would be coming to West Chester University, and how privileged I felt to have the opportunity to witness it. Two hours flew by as he told stories of his modest childhood in Minnesota and his path to becoming a successful writer.
“You just absorb the language, the gorgeous language that we have,” he said, when he spoke of his experience writing poetry. “One word leads to another and you pick up the pleasure and the taste of language in your mouth and the beauty of it. Even more so than what you’ve seen on the page…”
He continued the show, slipping in clever and unexpected jokes here and there, talking about his time growing up. He spoke of the progress in human knowledge as he expressed how he impressed he is with modern technology.
“If you don’t get there one way, you’ll get there another. This is a philosophy of life… and it comes from a simple piece of electronics.” he said when he talked about GPSes.
He compared the way GPSes work to the way we need to view the upcoming election. That whatever happens, happens, and like a GPS, we will reroute and redirect because we are a great and beautiful country that can recover from anything.
As the end neared, it was clear that the premise of the show was a simple thing to comprehend: Life is good.
With every joke, story and song, he emphasized this theme of how lucky we are to live such a beautiful life. He then held out his fists and hummed a note. The audience joined together to sing a few more songs, and Keillor walked off the stage as nonchalantly as he had walked on, only getting a glance of the audience who had jumped to their feet for a standing ovation.
Katherine Mash is a second-year student majoring in communication studies. ?She can be reached at KM854840@wcupa.edu.