This is what we know about A Prairie Home Companion

Garrison Keillor of

Garrison Keillor of "A Prairie Home Companion."

From the brilliant, the best breakdown yet of long-running, insufferably white syndicated public radio variety show "A Prairie Home Companion."


After he's done chatting, Garrison Keillor sings a song, usually the melody of a pre-existing song but with new lyrics. It's like a Weird Al song, if Weird Al only wrote parodies of songs at least thirty years old and they were all about doctors and lawyers and college professors. To give you a sense of the kind of songs I'm talking about: I don't know if Garrison Keillor has ever sung a parody of Gilbert and Sullivan's I Am The Very Model Of A Modern Major General with lyrics about contemporary American politics, but also yeah I do know, because he definitely has.

Anyway, the song is cute and fun and you start to think, "yeah, okay, you know what, maybe I do like A Prairie Home Companion," but then he sings another song, and it's like, "all right, guy, enough." Then he sings like eight more songs.

After the songs, I guess there's like some sketches? One is usually a noir parody about a grizzled private eye. There might be one of these in every show? There's no way to know for sure. One is usually a sketch about cowboys, where most of the comedy comes from the juxtaposition of cowboy cliches with anachronistic modern life observations. Like maybe one of the cowboys is developing an app? That could be twenty minutes of showtime right there. The cowboy segment is usually brought to you by powder milk biscuits. Is that supposed to be a joke? Or is there an actual powder milk biscuit company that pays to sponsor the segment? Nobody knows. It's a mystery.

Then there's like ten or twelve more sketches.

Usually the show has a vaguely topical sketch, so you know that this show was recorded recently, like, this isn't just an old show NPR had lying around, like, they're still making this show, in the present. The vaguely topical sketch isn't really topical topical though, it's more like seasonal. Like in winter there could be a sketch about Christmas, or in the fall, there could be a sketch about going back to school. Back-to-school is a fun topic, because you can make jokes about how wacky youth culture is and also make jokes about the exorbitant price of higher education, and DON'T WORRY, A PRAIRIE HOME COMPANION WILL MAKE THOSE JOKES.

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