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December 31, 2007 | 2 Comments

Dear Mr. Keillor,
Listening each week to your show, I hear a faint echo of one of my very early heroes; Stan Freberg. Especially during performances of your radio players, I can almost imagine the voices of Daws Butler and June Foray.
I was wondering if the two of you have ever met, collaborated, or discussed satirical comedy.

Tom I.
Falls Church VA

I never met Mr. Freberg but I admired his hornrim glasses and saw him once at a distance, receiving an award at some big dinner or other. I liked his stuff okay but thought he was not nearly so subtle and subversive and wonderful as Bob Elliot and Ray Goulding. Bob & Ray were radio guys and my impression of Stan Freberg was that he was an advertising guy who was moonlighting. And he had some big hit records and maybe success dulled some of his stuff. He made some albums with big orchestras, actors, etc. Bob and Ray worked in small studios with crummy recorded music and sound-effects and played all the parts themselves. They never suffered from too much success although they did have a Broadway show, "The Two and Only," that did pretty well. For some reason, I warmed to them more, maybe because they had started out where I did, as DJs doing a regular daily on-air shift. And they pretty much avoided jokes, which set them apart back then. I don't know that anything we do on PHC would remind anybody of Bob & Ray though I do think they would've liked "Crispy the Rescue Dog" and the sound-effects stuff. And a few weeks ago we stole outright their "Slow Talker" routine for a Guy Noir episode about walleye.


I too was a big fan of both Bob & Ray and Stan Freberg but let's not forget Jean Sheppard.
When I was a kid he had a radio show out of New York where he'd just talk for an hour or so. I may have only been a half an hour but I can't remember.
He used to talk about growing up in the Indiana suburbs of Chicago and many of the stories he told were related in the TV movie "A Christmas Story" which gets aired endlessly during the holiday season.
He also wrote a book called "In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash" which was a best-seller, if I'm not mistaken.
Your show, especially "News From Lake Woebegon" reminds me of him

Mr. K. You wrote:

"I don't know that anything we do on PHC would remind anybody of Bob & Ray"

and also:

"And a few weeks ago we stole outright their 'Slow Talker' routine for a Guy Noir episode about walleye."

So you know:

When I was a kid, one of the great pleasures and formative experiences was regular visits to the public library which had a modest collection of LPs and cassete tapes. The tapes included a lot old radio shows (I found them quaint and the production behind them interesting but mostly not compelling as literature). The record collection included some great jazz and 20th century classical and .... comedy. That stuff messed me up good and proper.

That and one of my girlfriends, back when, was quite the student and made me listen to her mix tapes of Dr. Dimento a lot. And then she'd explain it all too me, in theory. Hard to believe but, yes, that was kind of romantic. "Note this guy's timing.... shut out the words and just listen to the rhythms for a bit...."

Point is: the "slow talker" routine in your form still reads like a plain-on-its-face literary tip of the hat to some listeners like me -- not to mention you stole the bit well and that was funny.

On the chance that suggesting an artistic challenge might lead to fun and the assumption it'll be pretty harmless if it doesn't work out: how about a nice over the top riff on some Firesign Theater? (Geeze, i couldn't have appreciated *them* without the accidental exposure to the old radio shows.) (And sorry if I already missed such a riff.)


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