A Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keillor

Guy Noir script
Saturday, July 2, 2005


Tim Russell: A dark night in a city that knows how to keep its secrets, but one man is still trying to find the answers to life's persistent questions.....Guy Noir, Private Eye. (THEME OUT)

Garrison Keillor: I was out in Massachusetts, the state that sounds like a sneeze, in the Berkshire Mountains, at Tanglewood, and I was walking down a long hallway (FOOTSTEPS) in a building full of little practice rooms where Tanglewood students were hard at work, putting in their time (TRUMPET), doing what musicians have to do if they're going to be any good (CELLO) — practice — playing passages over and over (BAGPIPE) — some singers in there too (TR TENOR) — and here was a conductor waving his baton (VIGOROUS SWISHING, SOME GRUNTING) — and some jazz players (BASS & DRUMS) — and then in the last room, what sounded like a pair of ducks — (DUCKS, DANCE OF SUGAR PLUM FAIRIES) — (OPEN DOOR) — Excuse me?

Peter Schickele: Who are you? I'm busy.

GK: I see that. What's going on?

PS: I'm teaching ducks the "Nutcracker" — it's for a Disney special. What do you want?

GK: I'm Guy Noir, a private investigator. I'm peeking around and looking for a guy named Rico.

PS: Hey — don't use the word "peeking" around a duck.

GK: I'm sorry. I'm looking into each room— looking for a guy name Rico.

PS: Never heard of him. (BRIDGE) I was on the trail of a small-time mobster named Rico and found that he was at Tanglewood running an enormous program for songwriters.

Sue Scott (FLEXNER): I am Judith Flexner, Mr. Noir — I teach oboe at Tanglewood.

Fred Newman (LADY): And I am Melanie Pruitt — pianoforte.

SS (FLEXNER): This is a serious summer music program and now we've got all of these weirdos writing bad poetry and putting it to dumb music.

FN (LADY): And they're living in disgusting luxury up at the mansion.

GK: Thank you. (BRIDGE)

GK: The old Sprocket mansion. A sign out front said, "Tanglewood — Center for Songwriters, Inc." and it was rather tony. There were peacocks roaming the grounds (PEACOCKS) and fashion models (

SS: I adore being around writers — I'm creative myself, you know.) and she was leading a leopard on a leash (LEOPARD) and there were more peacocks (PEACOCKS) and a Swedish film director named Lars (TR SWEDISH) and people in black and I walked in (FOOTSTEPS) and there in the grand salon was a woman at the piano.

Inga Swearingen: (SINGS, TO PIANO) I stayed up late feeling ever so bad
On account of the rather dreadful experiences I have had
Which were really really icky beyond description,
I tell you, I was having fits and conniptions.

GK: Excuse me, ma'am—

IS: Excuse me, I just have to finish this song— (SHE SINGS)

But I am feeling much less grief and despair
Since Mr. Jeff did such a nice job on my hair,
I love how it glows in the sunshine,
And I am happy that my hair is mine.

GK: Lovely. Very lovely. (BRIDGE) The place was full of songwriters (FN & TR NEW YORK MALE GRUNTS AND MURMURS) —who were having a big feast on the lawn (LAUGHTER, CLINKING) while behind the gates a crowd of violinists and reed players cried in pitiful voices (PITIFUL CRIES — "Please ... some croissants, mister. — Some croutons ... .How about some condiments???) and just then I felt a hand on my shoulder— (STING)

TR (RICO): Hey— looky who we got here. If it ain't Mr. Super Sleuth himself.

GK: Hey Rico— long time no see.

TR (RICO): What you doin here, gumshoe?

GK: Hey, take it easy on the shoulder, pal.

TR (RICO): I'll give you some deep-tissue massage with a pair of brass knuckles if you don't tell me what you're doin here—

GK: Hey. Look who's here. It's Stephen Sondheim!

TR (RICO): Where? I don't see him. (KONK, TR GROAN, FALLS TO GROUND) (BRIDGE)

GK: I gave Rico his own personal sleep number and I went off and searched the upstairs bedrooms, and found an old man looking for his glasses.


GK: Here, old timer— here you go.


GK: What are you doing here at Tanglewood—

FN (OLD): New-fangled what?

GK: Tanglewood. The music center here in the Berkshires.

FN (OLD): What about work?

GK: And what is the Center for Songwriters, Inc. Why a corporation?

FN (OLD): Constipation?

GK: Boy, when you don't need a signer, they're all over you, and then you need someone to do sign language — nobody.

TR: Excuse me— I'm Mr. Sprocket's attorney, my name is Skip Fordyce.

GK: You're an attorney and you're wearing yellow plaid shorts and your name is Skip?

TR: It's a nickname. My real name is Biff.

GK: And his name is Mr. Sprocket?

TR: Emerson Sprocket. He donated his mansion and two-hundred million to the songwriter program at Tanglewood.

GK: Okay. But why? And why is Rico running it?


GK: You're tapping Morse code on his head with your knuckles?

TR: It's the only way to get through to him. (HE TAPS OUT MORE MORSE CODE)

SS: Why— Mr. Fordyce, what are you doing whacking my Daddy upside the head with your fist? What did he ever do to you?

TR: I'm asking him a simple question, Chantal—

GK: Excuse me, ma'am, who are you?

SS: I'm Chantal Sprocket. I'm Daddy's sole heir and I live in Shelburne Manor, on Twickenbush Prospect, near the Berkshire Hoop & Wicket Club.

GK: And your daddy lives with you?

TR: No, Old Man Sprocket was getting too old to drive. So we had to lock him up here in the bedroom.

GK: So you took away his car keys?

SS: Yes, we had to—

GK: But when you took away his car keys, you took away his method of cleaning wax out of his ears—

SS: I never thought of that.

GK: He isn't deaf, his ears are plugged. Hand me that hair dryer. Thanks. (HAIR DRYER) There. Now I'll do the right one. (HAIR DRYER) That ought to melt the wax. Now the vacuum cleaner. (VACUUM, BOTH EARS) — Mr. Sprocket???

FN (OLD): Don't yell at me. I ain't deaf. What's the matter with you?

GK: Mr. Sprocket, your ears have been clogged with wax and you haven't heard a word people have said to you for the past six months.

FN (OLD): They were talking???? I thought they were yawning.

GK: Anyway, you left a rather large sum of money to Tanglewood, to the songwriter program—

FN (OLD): To the songwriter program????

GK: Yes, sir— two hundred million dollars.

FN (OLD): I thought it was for the John Schneider program.

GK: John Schneider—

TR (RICO): Hey Noir— butt out.

GK: The game's up, Rico. You suckered this old man and set up this fake songwriter program as a front. You're going up for fraud and larceny.

TR (RICO): You'll never make it stick, Noir.

SS: How can we ever thank you, Mr. Noir?

GK: I'll think of a way. (BRIDGE) So it wasn't songwriters Mr. Sprocket cared about. It was John Schneider, a composer whose music helped the old guy get to sleep every night. Mr. Schneider?

PS: Yes?

GK: Are you what might be called a minimalist composer?

PS: Right.

GK: So you tend to use repetitive simple phrases to achieve an incantatory or hypnotic effect.

PS: Yes.

GK: Could I hear a work of yours — I see you have a tape machine there — is that something you've written?

PS: Right.

GK: I see the cassette is labelled, "A Meditation on Two Hundred Million Dollars, dedicated to my friend Mr. Emerson Sprocket" — is that the title of the composition?

PS: Yes.

GK: And tell me how to work this tape machine — do I press the left button or the right button for Start?

PS: Right.


GK: Two hundred million dollars. Nothing minimal about that. (MINIMALIST MUSIC, CONT'D.) Between the songwriters and the John Schneiders, I wouldn't care to have to choose — but that's not my job. Truth is my job. What you do with it is up to you. (THEME)

SS: A dark night in a city that knows how to keep its secrets but one man is still trying to find the answers to life's persistent questions.....Guy Noir, Private Eye. (MUSIC UP AND OUT)

Old Sweet Songs: A Prairie Home Companion 1974-1976

Old Sweet Songs

Lovingly selected from the earliest archives of A Prairie Home Companion, this heirloom collection represents the music from earliest years of the now legendary show: 1974–1976. With songs and tunes from jazz pianist Butch Thompson, mandolin maestro Peter Ostroushko, Dakota Dave Hull and the first house band, The Powdermilk Biscuit Band (Adam Granger, Bob Douglas and Mary DuShane).

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