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Prairie Home Companion Sketch:

How We Pick our Writers

GK: We get a lot of cards and letters from people who wonder how we select the writers for this program. As you know, it takes a lot of top flight writing talent to come up with all the material we use each week, and frankly, we're constantly on the lookout for new talent. Each day, hundreds of unsolicited manuscripts arrive in the mailroom

(FX: Thump of mail from bag)

MAILROOM BOY: Whew-wee! Get a load of this one!

MAILROOM BOY 2: Here's one that only stinks a little.

GK: After a careful screening process, the writers of the half-dozen or so best submissions are invited to the penthouse conference room of the Prairie Home Companion Tower, next door to the Fitzgerald here in downtown St. Paul, for a tryout. I could make the decisions by myself, but I prefer the sage advice of a panel, which includes Norman Conquest and Emanuel Transmission, both current writers for this show, award-winning writer Muriel L. Brubaker, who wrote for us for years before her sudden and unexpected retirement…


GK: Also serving on the panel is Chester Hasbrook Frisbee, who wrote Mary Backstayge, Noble Wife, for the Bob and Ray program for many years. We ask the writers to prepare a sketch on a subject we've already covered on the show. This month, we asked all the finalists to prepare a few words on the ducks who march through the lobby of the Peabody Hotel in Memphis. You may recall they appeared on our show a few years back. So, finalist Number one, what have you got?

FINALIST ONE: As the ducks awoke this morning from uneasy dreams they found themselves transformed into gigantic insects. They were lying on their hard, as it were armor-plated, backs and when they lifted their heads a little…

GK: Uh, finalist number one, I love a good Kafka homage as much as the next guy…

EMANUAL TRANSMISSION: Not if I'm the next guy.

GK: But I think that's a little highbrow for our show. Thanks for coming. Next.

FINALIST TWO: (CANADIAN) So here come those marching ducks, eh? There look to be aboot 10 of them, lined up like a hockey team…

GK: You know, we really don't have much of a chance of being accepted by the CBC as a Canadian-written show, so we'll take a pass. Thanks. Number three?

FINALIST THREE: Duck, Duck, Boh Buck, Banana…

GK: Next!

FINALIST FOUR: (MINNESOTA ACCENT) So we were sittin in the lobby having a nice cup of coffee, not saying much of anything, when all of a sudden, there's all these ducks. Ducks. Lots of 'em.

GK: On the other hand, we already have all the Minnesotan writers we need. Number Five?

FINALIST FIVE: President Clinton walks into a bar with two ducks under his arm, and the bartender says, "Nice Ducks." The former president says, "I got them for Hillary and Chelsea." So, the bartender says, "Nice trade."

GK: I'm sorry, we don't do political humor.

BRUBAKER: This is absurd. I could write better than this standing on my head!

GK: And you often did, Muriel, but I think after that incident in Albuquerque, we agreed it wasn't going to be possible for you to write for the show any more.

BRUBAKER: Well, I never!

GK: No, that's just the problem, you did, once. Finalist six?

FINALIST SIX: (Tune of "No Business Like Show Business")

There's No Business Like Duck Business

At The Peabody Hotel…

GK: Next.

TIMMY: We get a lot of cards and letters from people who wonder how we select the writers for this program. As you know, it takes a lot of top flight writing talent to come up with all the material we use each week…

GK: That's great! I love it. It's perfect for the show. You're hired! By the way, haven't I seen you somewhere before?

TIMMY: You bet, I played Timmy on the adventures of Buster the Show Dog.

GK: So, I take it you've been out of work for a while

TIMMY: Aw, that's OK. You get used to eating out of dumpsters, and sleeping on the street in St. Paul isn't so bad between May and October.

GK: Well, you can start right away. Emanual and Norman, you have to be getting back down to level P2 to park the earlybirds for this week's show anyway, right? Why don't you take Timmy down there, get him a uniform, and show him to his desk.

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