It was a quiet week. Pastor Liz smokes a cigarette at the Chatterbox Cafe, Darlene's ex husband leaves his new wife, Florian Krebsbach buys a new piece of farm equipment, and the host recalls a shameful tomato incident. Only two more weeks to go before Garrison Keillor retires as host of A Prairie Home Companion.
By the way, I would have posted this a bit earlier, but...therein lies the tale.
I hope some of you had the chance to watch the video stream of today's show. I say that because they did something they hadn't ever done before, at least not to this extent. Occasionally after a broadcast went off the air, they'd have a brief encore, but that would be it. But tonight, the stream continued when the broadcast ended, and Garrison Keillor came back on stage, eventually joined by the guests, and they did an aftershow. And I don't mean just a few songs, but almost literally another show. It went on for 20 minutes, then 40 minutes, singing, stepping into the audience to chat with a few people, doing some original material, singing some songs that they cut from the show, and then eventually the cast left the stage, and he sang a goodnight song, and you knew that at last was it -- but he sang another goodnight song...and then another, in which he gave the band members solos, so that was obviously it...except then the cast came back on, and they sang some more, including "Goodnight, Irene," in which he ad-libbed a verse to the music about how this was the longest encore they had ever done in the history of the show.
And even at that, they weren't done. Because they then sang "Red River Valley." And then a hymn. And even that wasn't the end, because they all sang the gospel song "Amen." And that finally was it -- and they all took their bows and walked off after...an hour and 18 minutes!
The cheering was raucous. And Garrison Keillor returned to acknowledge it. And then did yet another song! It was "A Fool Such As I," which you'll recall begins, "Pardon me if I'm sentimental, when we say goodbye." And you figured that was finally the end...except he began to tell a story, and a wonderful one at that, how he came up with the name for the show. (It came from when Norwegians came over to America and settled in North Dakota. It was a hard time for them, and after years they thought about going back, when a young man died. They didn't want to send his body back to a land he had never known, so they buried him in Minnesota, at a lovely place they called the Prairie Home Cemetery. "I know it's odd to name a show after a cemetery," he said, "but Norwegians are a little odd..." And that wasn't it, because then, the cast returned! And they sang the Irving Berlin song, "What'll I Do (When You Are Gone")?" And then, "Happy Trails." But as sure as you were that that was the end... it wasn't, because they went back to "Goodnight, Irene." And finally, at last, walked off. After an additional nine minutes.
As you might imagine, the cheering was explosive. And Garrison Keillor did return, but this time only to acknowledge the applause and that was it.
All in all, it was almost an extra hour and a half. This after doing a two-hour live radio show. It was just remarkable. Hugely entertaining, wistful and emotional.
I don't know if they'll have the aftershow archived on their website here, but it's highly-worth checking out.
Anyway, that's why I didn't post last week's News from Lake Wobegon until now. Because I kept watching the live streaming aftershow. And watching and watching and watching and watching...
But here's the News --
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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