Host Garrison Keillor answers your questions about life, love, writing, authors, and of course, A Prairie Home Companion.
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November 2, 2007 |
Dear Mr. Keillor,
As a long time listener I don't recall you explaining how you came up with the phrase about Lake Wobegon where all the women are strong, the men are good looking, and the children are above average.
I have been listening for nearly as long as the show has been on and that phrase was the first one I could remember without having to listen to a broadcast.
I remember constructing the line back in the early days of the show, Andrea, and taking care with each phrase in the series. It was a very deliberate invention. I was doing a sort of routine that was migrating from stand-up toward an extended story and I needed a line to indicate THE END. The stand-up started out as a broad parody, based on the police blotter column in a small-town paper (and also the social notes, e.g. "Mr. and Mrs. Keillor had supper Thursday evening at the home of the William Pedersens. Also present was Mrs. Pedersen's brother Duane and his wife Lurleen."), so that's where the "news" came from in "The News from Lake Wobegon". It's a signature line that holds up pretty well, I think. I grew up with strong women and I like the romantic characterization of men and then the line about children, which has been picked up by other people including educators, is a sort of anti-test-score joke and also expresses the hope of parents for their children. They each have enormous possibilities, whether or not anybody else thinks so.