Love & Comedy: Garrison Keillor talks touring, semi-retirement

Singer Aoife O Donovan is currently on the road with Garrison Keillor on the Love & Comedy Tour, which stops at Fraze Pavilion in Kettering on Wednesday, Sept. 6. CONTRIBUTED

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Singer Aoife O Donovan is currently on the road with Garrison Keillor on the Love & Comedy Tour, which stops at Fraze Pavilion in Kettering on Wednesday, Sept. 6. CONTRIBUTED

In mid-2016, Garrison Keillor shocked longtime fans when he left “A Prairie Home Companion,” the radio variety show he started in 1974. However, he hasn’t stopped working.

The writer-radio host, currently out on the Love & Comedy Tour with Aoife O’Donovan, Fred Newman and Richard Dworsky & the Road Hounds, performs at Fraze Pavilion in Kettering on Wednesday, Sept. 6.

Keillor, who is working on a screenplay and a new book, recently answered some questions through e-mail.

Q: What was it like leaving “A Prairie Home Companion” after four decades?

A: I did the last show at Hollywood Bowl and then got on a train with a band of family and friends. We rode up the coast to Seattle and east to St. Paul, which was pure pleasure and also a chance to try to think straight. I loved the show but I had no qualms about leaving it. I had come to a point where I was working all the time and that's not how I want to live now. It's like the time 12 years ago on a ship heading for Alaska when I set aside alcohol: it needed to be done and so I did it. I sat with my wife and daughter eating lunch in the dining car and watching the high plains of Montana slip by and it was very pleasant and cheery. They were glad to have me back.

Q: What’s the status of your screenplay?

A: It's waiting for another rewrite. The truth about screenwriting is that nothing is ever finished. You stop writing when the director takes the script out of your hand and gives it to the actors.

Q: What can fans expect from the Love & Comedy Tour?

A: It's almost three hours long with an intermission when the audience stands and sings a patchwork medley of old songs a cappella, which is very moving. Fred Newman is our sound-effects wizard, there's some gospel, some tender love duets, a long, convoluted News from Lake Wobegon, a hot band and some radio drama. I love walking out into the audience and, during the outdoor shows, threading my way between the blankets and lawn chairs and coolers, telling stories, and I love singing harmony on the duets.

Q: You’ve said this is your final tour. Why is it time to stop?

A: I'm 75. It just stands to reason. I love being 75 but I don't have delusions about it. I keep in touch with classmates from the Class of 1960 and I know about mortality.


WANT TO GO?

What: Garrison Keillor presents the Love & Comedy Tour with Aoife O'Donovan, Fred Newman and Richard Dworsky & the Road Hounds

Where: Fraze Pavilion, 695 Lincoln Park Blvd., Kettering

When: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 6

Cost: $30-$50 in advance, $35-$55 at the door

More info: 937-296-3300 or www.fraze.com

Artist info: www.garrisonkeillor.com

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