Garrison Keillor blends song, comedy, stories and more Thursday at Vilar |

Garrison Keillor blends song, comedy, stories and more Thursday at Vilar

Boasting an unhurried, radio-influenced delivery, Keillor is an author, singer, humorist, voice actor and radio personality with plenty of life experience to talk about.
Vail Valley Foundation/Courtesy photo
If you go...
  • What: Garrison Keillor Tonight
  • When: 6:30 p.m. Thursday, March 30
  • Where: Vilar Performing Arts Center, Beaver Creek
  • Tickets: Start at $35; students, $25

Stand-up comedy meets storytelling, singing and poetry when Garrison Keillor takes the stage at Vilar Performing Arts Center Thursday.

He often begins his shows with a song:

“One thing I’ve discovered is if I walk out and sing a few lines and hum a note, (the audience) hums it back to me. I don’t think anybody else does this,” Keillor said, adding that he then launches into “America (My Country, ’Tis of Thee).” “They’re right there with you. They know this song. There may be a few teenagers who need to Google it, but they haven’t sung it in decades, if ever, and they sound beautiful. They know these songs, and they sing in harmony and they are stunned by the beauty of their own singing.”

Once the audience warms up with song, Keillor launches into stories about his famous, invented town in Minnesota, “where all the women are beautiful, all the men are strong, and all the children are above-average,” he said. After 40 years of broadcasting “A Prairie Home Companion” on the radio, Keillor still includes this audience favorite, which he terms: News From Lake Wobegon.

But these days, his theme revolves around the beauty of aging. At 80, he has found “a plateau in life from which you can see clearly a long way back, and what’s interesting is what your memory has selected and what it has discarded,” he said. “It keeps the most cheerful memories, and it discards misery and sorrow. It discards those busy years, when I was accepting all offers, and I was busy all the time and my only exercise was walking fast through airports … Those years of ambition are just a blur, but I remember moments from childhood.”

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At 80, he finds he’s able to sit back and enjoy the small things, which provide great pleasure “because that’s what’s left.”

“You get to this age, and what seemed like a tragedy now seems like a trend,” he said. “You become a fan in your old age, whereas in your ambitious years you were a competitor … When you get to be 80, you realize you don’t need to finish ‘Moby Dick.’ I never got past about page 20, and I’m an English major, but now I don’t need to be multilingual or read self-help books, so you put a lot of things behind you.”

One thing that remains is how he still loves going out and meeting people.

“It keeps changing over time,” he said. “The stage fright disappears because that’s simply a form of narcissism, and you put it aside. People just want to have a good time.”

Keillor just finished writing a book titled “Cheerfulness,” which he views as “another aspect of getting to this age.”

“Cheerfulness is a choice, and you make it every day,” he said. “Even if you have anxieties — and we all worry about the world and our country — but you make this choice, and it’s a great strategy: You put the past behind, and you move on.”

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