Garrison Keillor is an American writer, humorist, musician and radio personality. He was born in 1942 in a conservative religious family in Anoka, Minnesota. He has been married three times and has two children. He began his radio career on a student radio station while at university. In 1969 he hosted a morning programme called “A Prairie Home Entertainment” on Minnesota Educational Radio. However, the masterpiece of his radio career is the programme “A prairie Home Companion” which started in 1974 and which is still followed each week by 4 million listeners. It is an old-style variety show consisting of comedy sketches, music, fake commercials and a weekly monologue read by Garrison Keillor about Lake Wobegon, a fictional Minnesotan town. In 2006, “A Prairie Home Companion” was turned into a movie for which Garrison Keillor wrote the screenplay and in which he also acts.
Garrison Keillor has more than one string to his bow: he is also a well-known writer. He is famous for his articles in magazines and newspapers. Until 2001, he was the advice-giving Mr Blue at Salon.com. In 2004, he published a collection of political essays: “Homegrown Democrat” and the next year, he began a syndicated newspaper column about political issues. His interest in politics led him to support Barack Obama during the presidential campaign. He has also written several books for adults and children as well as poetry. In 2006, he opened an independent bookshop in Saint Paul, Minnesota.
Besides his impressive height (1.90m), Garrison Keillor has a distinctive voice too. This has allowed him the opportunity to do voiceover work. His voice is to be heard, for example, in advertisements, animated series, documentaries and audio readings.
Throughout his brilliant career Garrison Keillor received many awards. He was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame under the comedy category in 1994. He also received the Moth Award – Honoring the Art of the Raconteur.
Thanks to the fame he has progressively achieved, Garrison Keillor has become a cultural icon. He is often referred to and parodied, partly because of his distinctive voice –as some say: his hypnotist tone– and his monologues are sometimes considered to be boring. He appeared, for example, in an episode of “The Simpsons” as a monologist with Homer exclaiming: “Stupid TV! Be more funny!” He is also referred to by music bands. The Pennsylvanian singer Tom Flannery for example wrote a song called “I want a job like Garrison Keillor’s”. This shows the important impact of Garrison Keillor’s work on the Anglo-Saxon culture.
Florence Vandevondele & Hélène Verhaeghe