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Earl Sanderson, Eagle Scout

March 9, 2009 | 9 Comments

Mr. Keillor,
I just heard, for the first time, your skit on Earl Sanderson, Eagle Scout. You have made fun of many people and professions in the past. But I would encourage you to think twice about poking fun at a program that encourages honor and integrity in our youth. Eagle Scouts are some of our most upstanding citizens. Young scouts work for years to attain the rank of Eagle Scout. It takes a spirit of willingness to serve others, a desire to excel and years of dedication and hard work to achieve the rank of Eagle Scout. I believe people who hold that rank deserve our respect. I don't think they should be made fun of in a comedy routine. I found your skit to be offensive. I would ask you to please consider removing it from your repertoire.

Julie L.
Helena, MT


I'm glad to know that Eagle scouts have a staunch defender in Helena, Julie, and you're right about the Scout program. I myself was a big failure at Scouting, never even advancing to Second Class, but it was a terrific program back there in the ancient times and it has maintained itself against some powerful cultural tides and for that I have great admiration. Every week or so, people ask me to write a letter of congratulations to a young man who's attained Eaglehood and I sit down and do it, always careful to note that I myself am not an Eagle nor even a Raven or a Bluejay. More like a Magpie. Anyway — I'd only say that I don't think Earl Sanderson is the one being made fun of in that sketch. Okay, he's sort of a cardboard hero, lantern jaw and all, but I'd maintain that I, Carson Wyler, the man who keeps falling into holes and gets impatient with his rescuers, is the butt of the joke if anyone is. I keep getting Earl Sanderson, Eagle Scout mixed up with Crispy The Rescue Dog, but whatever — it's an occasional thing and the next time I attempt to do Earl, if there is a next time, I will remember your letter. Thanks for writing it.


Hello, Garrison
Jim M., Eagle Scout, age 60, and father of Eagle Scout, Tom, age 28 checking in on the matter of Earl Sanderson, Eagle Scout. Julie L. is, of course, correct about the work, dedication and servant ethos required to attain the rank of Eagle. Sorry, Julie, I just can't see the lack of respect or offensiveness here. I must disagree with the belief that Eagle Scouts are somehow above parody or satire. Not being an English major, I leave the exact nature of the fun being poked at Eagle Scouts to be defined by others more educated than I.

Julie sounds to be familiar with the scouting program and as such should be no stranger to fireside skits that are send ups of many recognizable people or authority figures. Many who get their comeuppance at the hands of a talented 12 or 13 year old. I hope she does not feel that Eagle Scouts are really any more sacrosanct than our ex POTUS who was the butt of much parody and satire in the public media.

I see Earl as just another campfire skit gone large with better acting and killer sound effects. Earl is heroic but awkward, helpful yet occasionaly pompous, and thorough in his application of scouting skills. He is selfless and funny and this is one Eagle Scout who hopes that his adventures will continue.
Thanks, too, for writing all of those Eagle letters. And might I suggest that you do an Earl Sanderson skit with some local Eagle Scouts in a small group in your audience to do a reality check on offensiveness. My experience tells me that as long as it is the other guy getting the fid over the head, it's funny and those Eagle Scouts will be thrilled to be the center of attention.

Jim M.
Seminole, Fl

I would say to Mz Julie from MT. If we can't laugh at ourselves then humor has no merit. Like the Readers Digest says, Laughter is the best Medicine.
I live in Northern Alabama. I laugh every time I hear a trailer park- mobile home dwelling- tornado fearing- cousin marrying- toothless- Bubba beer drinking joke.
I can't remember who said it but, "Life is to funny to be serious". Yall have a Gud-Un now.

English majors unite! Can you believe this: "Okay, he's sort of a cardboard hero, lantern jaw and all, but I'd maintain that I, Carson Wyler, the man who keeps falling into holes and gets impatient with his rescuers, is the butt of the joke if anyone is." the butt of the joke? Whoops!

Sorry I can't share your enthusiasm for the Boy Scouts. They believe gays are not "morally straight" and also believe atheists can't be the best kind of people. Is this an organization that should be celebrated???

As an agnostic young man, who has followed the path of scouting from Tiger Cub through the Arrow of Light and on up to nearing the completion of my Eagle Scout service project on my 18th birthday, and also as an English Major at the Richard Stockton College of NJ, I feel I must do some defending...

First on behalf of Earl. I have never found him to be an insult to the institution of scouting. If anything it speaks to the light-hearted humor, that we, as boy scouts enjoy. It's important not to lose sight of the fact that the BSA is under a large amount of scrutiny for some decisions made over the years, so, to have any light shed on the organization in a positive manner (even if it is part of a joke) is good for us.

Scouting is truly about embracing the ideals of teamwork, companionship, and honor. As for the gentleman with lack of enthusiasm, the phrase "morally straight" doesn't carry that connotation to the scouts, themselves. Any "morally straight" scout knows that everyone deserves the chance to prove themselves be they: gay, straight, bisexual, or transgender. In fact, I know several (and that can't be underscored heavily enough) Eagle Scouts who are gay. They are proud of being both gay and Eagle Scouts. I, myself, never found my religious views to be an issue in scouting, most found me to be bold in my decision.. You cannot let the universal quotations of some spokesperson dictate,to you, the face of an entire organization, especially one as diverse and good-willed as the Boy Scouts of America.

We appreciate you Garrison, most of the time anyway. Thank You.

First, Eagle scouts are not the ones being made fun of here. I myself am almost an Eagle Scout and I know many who think that this segment is a break from reality and it allows them to laugh at what some people think of when they think of an Eagle Scout.

Second, in response to James A. Heath's article, he's right. It allows us to laugh at ourselves, and if we can't do that, then what's the point of life.

To anyone out there who doesn't like the scouting program, I know that you're out there, I know that it has come under fire, but there are other programs for those boys that the boy scouts won't take. In my troop we actually have an openly Gay Boy, and we have no problems.

To anyone who is thinking about joining the Scouting Movement, Do it. It is a lot of Fun.

Ton anyone who is pushing for Eagle Scout I have sympathy for you.

To GK, I think that even getting past Tenderfoot is admireable, because it means that you pushed yourself and i admire that in most people.

I'm an Eagle Scout and so is my son. I see no offense in the skit. It's time for Americans to regain their sense of humor and not read into everything all their own dislikes and fears. The skit pokes fun, and it's obvious that the real "pokee" is bureaucracy. To be honest, it's not my favorite set of skits, but so be it.

Maybe Julie could give us all a list of things that are appropriate to satirize. I am reasonably certain she has strong ideas about what is and isn't above a little fun.

I wasn't a scout either, I was a 4H kid. I'd like the 4H to get a little attention from PHC like old Earl.

Over here (Australia) scouts still aspire to be Queens Scouts, though what will happen when Elizabeth R falls off the twig or we finally get around to becoming a republic is unclear.

I can relate to Garrison's admission of not being a big success in scouting. I wasn't so great at Girl Guides myself, but Baden Powell is having his revenge by making me the mother of two scouts. In that role I'm working towards my 'sewing badges on scout uniforms' badge and the 'chaperoning the scouts on camps' cord (hint - pack your own food, bring ear plugs and try not to watch what the children are doing. It all works out in the end).

Scout meeting nights always mean 'the great woggle hunt' where all the various uniform items are winkled out from wherever they've secreted themselves in the previous seven days.

On the up side, the Cooking Badge turned the boys into great cookie makers and the Cyclist badge means they fix their own punctures.

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