One More Night with Garrison Keillor in Brooklyn

August 5th, 2015

Garrison Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion – Kings Theatre – August 4, 2015

In anticipation of stepping down as the host of the long-running popular public-radio variety show A Prairie Home Companion next year, Garrison Keillor and his band rolled into Brooklyn’s Kings Theatre last night. As part of their America the Beautiful tour, Keillor treated the crowd to a night of his signature stories and songs, spryly mixing in some Brooklyn-centric jokes and references alongside classic features like his fictitious News from Lake Wobegon. “Brooklyn, for better or worse, has become hip,” commented Keillor as the night began, going on to decry the rising costs of rent (and coffee) and continuing to remark, “So we come as an antidote.”

With his dry humor as a through line, Keillor reminisced about his first trip to Brooklyn, with his father in 1953, and later wondered aloud whether there are garages in Brooklyn. (“In Bay Ridge!” shouted an audience member.) Keillor and his band also wove in a variety of songs throughout the evening, including the gospel piece “Lead Me to the Rock” and folk songs like “The Cheapest Kind” and “Red River Valley.” The audience was especially delighted by the appearance of Keillor’s character Guy Noir, a riff on hard-boiled private detectives (and a staple of the radio show), which last night took aim at the recent controversy of the Minnesota dentist who paid to hunt an African lion.

Fred Newman, whose impressive vocal sound effects are another classic element of A Prairie Home Companion, was also on hand, replicating everything from dolphin calls to exploding buildings to a very realistic rendition of screeching subway brakes—all with nothing more than his own pipes. Although Keillor shared some poignant reflections on his life and career trajectory amid the jokes and music, the tone of this self-described farewell tour was celebratory and lighthearted, the sense of a skilled performer and storyteller enjoying the chance to present his show to the community of fans he has built, while looking forward to the future. —Alena Kastin | @AlenaK