A Prairie Home Companion's Tom Papa Reacts to Garrison Keillor Firing

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The news that Garrison Keillor was fired from Minnesota Public Radio for allegations of inappropriate behavior came as a shock to the devoted fans of his radio show A Prairie Home Companion

The show has continued under the same name since Keillor's retirement last year with new host Chris Thile.

The situation has saddened the program's current head writer and comedian Tom Papa. 

When asked about his initial reaction to the news Papa said, "It was 'Ahhh really?! Come on.'  I was on a flight.  This is how fast news is happening.  I was on a flight to come to Cleveland that transferred in Dallas.  I had heard about Matt Lauer when I got on the plane, and when I got off [Keillor] was added."

Minnesota Public Radio not only terminated Keillor's contract, MPR also plans to change the name of the show.

"They're going to change the title.  We don't know what it is yet.  We have a show Saturday in New York.  It'll be 'the-show-formerly-known-as' I guess," Papa said.

While Papa's never met Keillor he's long been a fan.

"I worshipped the show since I was a kid.  I've read everything he's ever written from the New Yorker to his books.  I was inspired to do my own radio show Come to Papa which is a Prairie Home Companion type show," Papa said.

As a touring comedian, Papa often performs his weekly monologue "Out in America" at the local public radio station wherever he's performing.  For instance he'll appear live remotely from Cleveland during this Saturday's program.

Papa also works with the show's other writers to create the program's comedy routines.

"When Chris Thile became host they needed someone to take over the comedy.  They came to me because they knew of my show.  The idea that I could say, 'I'm the head writer for A Prairie Home Companion' was so sweet," he said.

With Thile bringing in more top-rate musicians Papa wants to raise the bar for the show's comedy.

"Garrison hasn't been involved in the show for a long time.   We were taking a lot of things out that were the old show and trying to move it ahead," Papa said.

Going forward Papa and his colleagues soon will obviouslyneed new business cards.

"To lose the name is kind of disheartening, but it is becoming a new show.  I'm not sure what it'll be, but I no longer say, 'I'm the head writer for A Prairie Home Companion,'" he said.

Tom Papa performs in Cleveland Friday and Saturday night at Hilarities.

Listen to the entire interview:



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