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December 11, 2006 | 37 Comments

Dear Garrison Keillor,
The lewd skit tonight with the liquids in the airport trashcan disgusted us to the point that we had to turn off the radio (particularly frustrating since I was quite fascinated by the tuba jazz band).

My wife and I have memories of listening to your show and stories for more than 20 years. Please do not make us stop by continuing with such inappropriate humor.

Marriner M
Lafayette IN

It's all Fred Newman's fault, Mr. M. The script itself was not lewd but the squirting and squorting sounds were very suggestive. Sounds of viscosity can arouse a powerful reaction in listeners' minds, and that's what happened there. We have fined Fred $500 for lewd conduct and told him never to do oils or lotions ever again.


I think "Don't Scratch Your Butt" is SO funny! Thank you for the huge smiles and giggles!

I have to agree with the listener. This show is promoted as a 'family show, and a look back at the good ole days', but using today's loose sex values to get some cheap laughs does not fit with the theme that made PHC popular. I have been listening to PHC faithfully since 1987 when living outside of Chicago in the countryside, where I could really relate to the humor, but then. I have noticed that as the PHC staff gets older (perhaps a little lazy in the creation department) the attempts to get a laugh has turn to the old standby used by T.V. shows - dirty humor or toilet humor. The reason why PHC has been so popular until now is that people can laugh about themselves and their memories of a simple, more innocient country life, with music. Anyone can get laughs from filty humor shown on T.V. or comedy clubs. PHC has been above that crowd for many years. But is it changing? Americans like to feel that their values are above others and that they don't change, but PHC's moral values has definitely changed in the past 2 years. Its a pity.

Glenn Perkins
Tokyo, Japan

The critical comments regarding sound effects and the funny 'don't pick your butt' song reminds of the bewildering prudishness of so many in the USA. From my Down Under perspective here in Australia it seems odd that that citizens of the country which is largest producer of pornography in the world, largest manufacturer of weapons, responsible for escalating the threat of terrorism, the illegal invasion and destruction of Iraq gets all hot under the collar over a sound effect, or the lyrics of the mildest song about an everyday behaviour. “Lighten up’ people. Garrison Keillor is a national treasure… perhaps international treasure.

Don't scratch your butt was funny .Thank you

C'mon, what's with all the whining? Not only is it the holidays, but as Garrison said in the trans-fat piece: "Life is short. You're supposed to enjoy it."

Really, if you're going to be put off by sound effects, go listen to Lawrence Welk. Let the rest of us enjoy the show, including its occasional bathroom humor or John Lennon song parody.

If some listeners think the sound of shampoo being squirted from a bottle is a lewd noise then they have dirtier minds than mine.

I agree that most of what passes as comedy today is really sloppy. Being crude or shocking to get a laugh shows, at best, simple lazyness--at worst, a lack of talent.

But I don't think APHC comes anywhere close to being crude or shocking or lazy or talentless.

Have you listened lately to what's passing as funny out there? Try an HBO special.

The day GK pulls a Richards is the day I'll turn off the show. And I doubt that day will ever come.

Those who found the airport liquids skit offensive have no sense of humor and probably lead very dull lives. It is impossible to please 100% of the listeners.

For Pete's sake, they were toiletries, not people. I didn't find all of it particularly funny, myself (except "You won't respect me in the morning!" -hahaha), but it's hardly worth a complaint. It seems there's been a lot of this complaining about "inapropriate humor" on PHC, and how it's not like "the good old days"...well, PHC has been doing such things for years, and says who people in "the good old days" didn't like a toilet joke every now and then? So long as it doesn't end up being the whole show, I don't see any problem with it.

Get over it writer. It was funny.

good grief! It's humor, lighten up folks. I'm sure you (the leading commenters) are very good people and mean well but as an expat living in Europe I find comments like yours indicative of why I'm in no hurry to return. Our friend from Oz, Colin, hit the nail on the head - my homeland is up to its virtual neck in hypocrisy and prudishness. Thank you Mr. Keillor for all your class... even in your reply.

"Puritanism: The haunting fear that someone, somewhere may be happy." - H. L. Mencken

db, Herzogenburg, Austria

I thought the liquid gel skit and the scratch your butt song were quite funny. Please keep up the creative, intelligent humor. Thanks.

honest to god ,you didn't really fine fred newman 500 smackers for the liquids?
slainte fred
great show,david mikell

Viscous liquid sounds.... they make me laugh! Folks with different values sounding off... Go ahead! Garrison... you're not Howard Stern, nor are you Lawrence Welk. I like you as you are. It must feel like a tightrope sometimes, but please... keep it up! Otherwise, the next thing you know, some folks will call for a ban on limericks! Hmphhh!

You know, people are getting awfully SERIOUS lately, not to say pompous and humorless. I agree with Colin from down under; people should get over it. If you have no sense of humor, don't listen to PHC for crying out loud.

Thank you, Marriner M. for reminding me why I left Indiana all those years ago. PHC--"lewd"--you gotta be kidding!

How can there be anything lewd about lotions and oil thrown in a trash can? It just goes to show the power of radio. It was a wonderfully creative satire on the whole "Homeland Security" liquid nonsense. We certainly need more of that! The lotions and oils were very child-like in their misunderstanding of their reasons for being thrown away. It was actually kind of sweet and sad.

Garrison Keillor and PHC are never in bad taste. The listeners...that seems to be another story. If you don't like it, turn it off, but don't expect the show and the world to change just for you.

These whinners are missing the point about the skit: over reaction to simple carry-on items. Get real: just what is the danger perceived by the Homeland Security squad in shampoos and mouth wash?

Hard to find anything offensive in that sketch. I heard it the other night but needed to re-read it today to see how it was even suggestive. I guess maybe I'm a little callous, but compared to anything else that passes for humor these days, PHC is funny, compassionate, literate and affectionate. I'm not sure where else in the world I'd find that combination.

Oh, Ye Jigs and Juleps and for Pete's Sake...There is a complete secter of the audience who listen for the humor in the unsanitized (while still shampooed) truth that PHC offerers on air. Don't give another jot to any critisism that may come your way. Keep doing what you do best... Observe, Think, Report and have FUN.
Peace to you all and to those in your loving care,
Lynne and Barbara+ from Kalamazoo.

I thought the lewd skit with the liquids in the airport trashcan (which, sadly, I missed) was very clever and not the least bit offensive. If anyone was offended by that, they must live under a rock in Indiana.

Thankfully this is a country where we have the right to say most anything we wish, dispite HOMELAND Security. In my opinion some of the political satire on PHC these past few years comes much closer to "stepping over the (humor)line" But,hey, if Katie Couric can get by with trashing the Pres -
no wait a minute....... Forget I said that.

Keep up the "lewd skits!"


While I appreciate everyone's right to express their opinions, I also think that some people need to lighten up a bit. I found nothing offensive about the show whatsoever - and the Mencken quote above is spot on. So many people in this country are so repressed, it's no wonder we have some of the problems that we do.

I would bet dollars to doughnuts that those complaining about the content in the recent PHC shows would have no trouble sitting through a performance of one of Shakespeare's plays. And yet talk about racy! Sex, violence, murder, incest, tawdry humor... Hmmm, perhaps I should stop teaching it to my middle school students! ;-)

Thank you, Mr. Keillor and cast, for the wonderful work you do every week.

That was nothing - remember last year when Al Franken told his father's favorite joke? We were in the audience and although many were laughing, I believe I saw even GK grimace.

I laughed even more the second time I heard the homeland security skit. I imagined Fred's expressive face as he voiced the oil/liquid mixing. . (You really should watch how he immitates a sperm whale.) For those of us planning our Christmastime excurions, the idea of surrending toothpaste and shampoo is a real fear. Thanks, Fred, for all the times you've put laughter in my life! You help me face life's worries and "get up and do what needs to be done" (like buying the sample-sized toothpaste, mouth wash and shampoo). Spending one night in the MSP airport is enough to make me carry on the liquids, oils and toothpaste.

I thought the liquids in the trash can coming alive was so creative! It reminded me of the skit about the chair your daughter was sitting in on her first date. The chair made comments about their conversation. I like the idea that inanimate objects have feelings.

yeah, this is what's really worth worrying about in the world.


always great shows GK- people take themselves too seriously-folks, laugh at yourself a little!!!!

I absolutely agree with Barbara- the point of the skit was to poke fun at the over reaction of airport security... Oh, was I allowed to say "poke"? (wink wink)

And even more- to poke fun at ourselves for letting ourselves get so worked up over life's little things. As Richard Carlson said in all his books- "Don't Sweat the Small Stuff"!! Now, there was a man with a beautiful family. He never sweated the small stuff & probably died with a smile on his face & a warm feeling of love in his heart- exactly how his friends & family knew him his whole life. Same goes for the late Steve Irwin- died doing what he loved the best. To those who are getting offended about the sounds of shampoo bottles & sweatin' other small stuff, I ask ya'- Is THAT what you want your life to be all about? Is that how you want your friends to remember you- as the one who got all freaked out over the sound of shampoo squirting?! (Do you never wash your hair?)

You have time to be all righteous & looking down your nose at everybody when you're floating overhead. Then you'll have all the time in the universe!

I found the shampoo bottle bit surprisingly suggestive for a PHC routine, but offensive? No. Lighten up, folks. PHC has always had a bit of risque humor mixed in with the more "family friendly" stuff.

The grace with which GK responds is inspiring. I wish I were half as graceful.
Thank you Garrison for 30 years of broadcast excellence.

It seems that quite a few people are missing the point of this skit. This is topical humor - they were poking fun and shedding light on an a security situation we all have to deal with on a daily basis. Through the personification of common vanity items, very cleverly done I might add, using stereotypes associated to each of the products, they acted out a very cute and funny skit.

It sounds to me as if quite a few people find human nature offensive. As a few others have already stated "lighten up", find some humor in yourselves and the human nature that we all face day in and day out. It's a sad state this country's fallen into when we can find such trivial issues to rattle over rather than the issues that really effect our well being. In between your writing checks to your Billy Graham's try picking up a few international newspapers and start paying attention to the REALITY that is YOUR world as well as the rest of ours. I agree with the expats who on find few reasons drawing them back "home" anytime soon with the lack of general awareness and ignorance thats overrun this country.

The fellow posting at the top thinks that "The reason why PHC has been so popular until now is that people can laugh about themselves and their memories of a simple, more innocient country life..." Interesting theory. I have to say I agree. If any longtime listeners are now tuning out, I can therefore only assume that they've lost the ability to laugh about themselves, perhaps the better to assume a position of moral superiority (or what we old timers used to call priggishness).

I thought the skit was rather humorous myself. People taking offense at it obviously have a much dirtery mind than me, because I just did not see the offensiveness to it.

Personally what is the real humor of the story is the reaction to it and all of the commentary regarding it.

Philips Johnson

Brilliantly humorous, perhaps marginally offensive to some, but to each their own. I'm of mixed emotions and have therefore decided to lather and rinse, but not repeat - at least not in the airport. Can't wait to see you in San Francisco this January!

I have yet to hear a show which I just love 100%. I wouldn't expect to - It's "The Prairie Home Companion", not the "Christine Barr's Prairie Home Companion". I didn't find the "Scratch Your Butt" song as funny as the audience obviously did - perhaps there is more butt scratching in N.Y. than Paris, TN. The liquids? Clever, and amusing - not a knee-slapper for me, but okay. I can't imagine being offended by either, though. If a piece doesn't appeal to me, I just wait. There's sure to be something else in the program which I will adore. Compared to what passes for music or humor elsewhere, PHC is a sanctuary of sanity in an increasingly insane world.

I'm a long time listener to Prairie Home Companion in all it's forms over the last several years. I suppose those who had issues with this particular skit would have had issues with any number of skits in many other past shows. One that comes to mind is the very funny story about the local man of Lake Woebegon who on the day of a town parade managed to get inserted into the parade cue. Unfortunately he was returning from a job of replacing a septic tank, in the form of an old Chevy, and had the Chevy on the back of the truck full of what you might expect.
I suppose those of the audience might find even such a great story to be of poor or questionable taste. I thought we managed to get beyond the day of Puritanism long ago.
I hope we will be hearing such stories from Garrison for many, many years to come.

I don't consider my self puritanical and I enjoy people being happy. However,I have lost a listening partner as my wife who used to enjoy the show with me has found some of the shows skits and jokes a bit crude for family listening. I have to agree she is right.
In the past, and even now , the program has a lot of good humor that is extremely funny at times without being crude and suggestive.
I still listen, turn off what seem to be going down the slippery slope, but I sure miss the company I used to have when my wife and I listened together except when we can listen together to some of the tapes we purchased from days gone by.

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