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Do you get to laugh?

December 3, 2012 | 5 Comments

Garrison -

I just returned from a vacation on Maui, during which I walked a lot of beach listening to your CDs on my MP3.  I'd forgotten some of the earlier stories, most of which kept a smile on my face (Alaska made me laugh out loud) that some passers-by mistook as a greeting to them.  But it made me wonder...are you able to laugh at these stories when you write them?  Do you get to enjoy them that 1st time you come up with the great lines?  I know you can tell if it's funny, but do you actually amuse yourself with the humor?  Or is it more work which, though you recognize it as funny and good, you don't yourself laugh at it??

Phil Luecke
Bellevue, WA  


What an intriguing question. The answer, generally, is No, I don't laugh at my own stuff. Laughter comes from surprise, same as fright, and its not easy to frighten yourself. I think there have been times when I chuckled, or snickered, at something as I wrote it, but outright ha-ha-ha laughter, I doubt it. People who knew my hero A.J. Liebling say that he sat typing in his office at The New Yorker, chortling at what he had written, and I've pondered that fact for years. I think maybe laughing is a skill, like singing, and I had a somber youth and didn't develop the muscle of laughter to the same extent as normal people. I am a dreadful audience member for any comedian and so I never sit down front. It'd be painful for a comedian to look at my long face for an hour ---- he or she might quit the business and go into accounting. I do laugh sometimes, big laughs, but seldom at jokes unless they're really well told, usually at surprising turns of phrase that I hear, dry humor, the humor of dark people. Certain people make me laugh, old men, my daughter, a few friends. But there is nothing I enjoy more than making other people laugh (or smile) and I'm glad you enjoyed the CDs. The most startling thing is to be on the New York subway and a woman gets in the car and recognizes me and her street face breaks into a smile. That makes my day, absolutely.


Huh. I find it surprisingly easy to frighten myself, especially as I get older. Sometimes the aches and pains, sometimes just the random thoughts frighten me.

I also find it very easy to laugh at myself and my pretensions. Often, if left alone for any length of time, I will find myself chuckling cheerfully at my own naivety.


I have such an outlandish imagination, sometimes I frighten myself just walking around a dark corner in my home. And then I double over laughing at myself and my silliness.

I'm not easy to entertain though, and PHC does it so well. I love the nostalgia and irreverence and teasing about Scandinavian folks and the cold winters of Minnesota. I love the incredibly talented sound people, co-actors, and musicians who join you on the show. I love Guy Noir. I love the homey-old-timey advertisements for Buttermilk Biscuits.

I'm an Italian married to a Norwegian and the humor of PHC helps me see through his stoicism to the lovely man beneath the chilly Viking exterior. Thank you for wonderful outlook and warm sense of humor. You and A Prairie Home Companion are such true gifts.

Thank You,

somewhere in Illinois

Mr. Keillor,
Making people laugh is what you do well. There seems to be layers of character beneath what you say, and I think that is also why the old guys in my town made us laugh. They also spoke straight from the chest about politics. Just like you did on Charlie Rose's show (12/11/12). Thank you for that wonderful interview. Jim

I'm a US Peace Corps TEFL volunteer in Romania.
Been listening to PHC since the 80's.
You help me stay sane in this crazy world.
Thanx for many happy moments dancing
in my kitchen on Saturday. Happy Holidays
Ho, Ho, Ho!

I have always been able to re-read the things I find amusing over and over again for years (decades) and still laugh. Garrison, I have your books stacked on the bedside table, at the ready for when the day hasn't been all that great. Before I turn out the light I'll open one of them and before long I'm laughing and the cares of the day melt away. Thanks for giving me that.

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