GK: I wasn't going to talk about this today but last week in new York at Avery Fischer Hall there was a very big gala put on by the Radio Foundation of Lincoln Center in honor of — well, in honor of me and my 47 years in radio broadcasting. I didn't want to do it — I told them six times No no no no no no — because I feel that these gala tributes should be for people who suffer from a life-threatening illness. But they inisisted, so I said okay, and Monday night I went to Avery Fisher — got off the Broadway bus at 64th and walked up the red carpet past the photographers, dozens of them (FLASH PHOTOGRAPHERS, SS TR FN: Over here! Big smile!) and I stopped there but they were taking pictures of other people (PHOTOGS: Hey you— with the glasses— out of the way) so I made my way inside to the Green Room which was packed with A-list celebrities and they all seemed to know each other and be best friends, Robert DeNiro and Mike Nichols, Glenn Close, Uma Thurman, all the kissing, the hugging, as I made my way through the mob. It was one celebrity after another. Regis Philbin.
TR (REGIS): Hey. I want to say something to you. I don't say this often. Cause I wasn't brought up to say I Love You to another man. But I do. I love you. And that is my final answer. So, where's your brother?
GK: Which one?
TR (REGIS): The one with the loud laugh. The one who doesn't know that much about cars.
GK: I'm sorry—
TR (REGIS): Car Talk! You and your brother. Listen to it every week and I laugh my head off!
GK: You walk along toward the buffet and it's kind of stunning. A gala in your honor. People you thought would have had other things going on right now-they're here, and they're here to see you. I headed for the buffet and the big platter of shrimp and there was Christopher Walken and Jack Nicholson —
TR: (CHRISTOPHER WALKEN): Holy hello-hey don't tell me— don't tell me — it's on the tip of my tongue— "Teen Zombies Tear Your Flesh" — am I right? No, it was that chainsaw movie. "Fargo"—
TR (JACK NICHOLSON): I'm back. Hey, do these sunglasses make me look fat? I don't care. Love your work, by the way. Love it. Just keep doing what you do. It's beautiful. What do you do?
GK: And there at the buffet was a guy with black hornrim glasses.
TR (IRA): Hi. It's me, Ira Glass. This American Life. I'm here doing a segment about how people with very low self-esteem have a hard time at galas at which they are being honored and how the tremendous stress of being honored when you don't feel worthy and maybe in fact you feel that someone else in your same line of work is so much worthier of honor than you, how this can really tie you up in knots—here, have some shrimp. There's a whole lot of it because nobody else is eating any. And guess what. I'm seated right behind you. Me. In the theater. Good luck.
GK: So I loaded up my plate with shrimp (SPLORTS) and I wolfed that down (EATING) and then went in the auditorium and I sat through some excruciating speeches. Senator Clinton talked for thirty minutes, mostly about health care. A little bit about me.
SS (HILLARY): I have heard his voice. And his voice has helped me to find my voice, which I am now using-my voice-to say to him-I like your voice—and I am now going to speak for you. From Day One. And sometimes I will call up people on the phone at three o'clock in the morning, and I will use your voice.
GK: People droned on and on…
TR (MONOTONE): People often ask me as one who has worked very closely with him for many years — let me see, about twenty or twenty two —twenty, I guess — not counting the year he was in rehab. People often ask me, What is his secret? How does he do it, week after week? And I tell them, he knows that he can't do it by himself and he's learned how to take things from people around him, oftentimes without them being aware of it, and working their things into his show and making them his own. That's our little secret in show business — how the person who looks like the star of the show is actually more of a mirage, who is very carefully propped up every week by the little people working around him whose names don't even appear in the credits—
GK: The speeches went on and on and Fred Newman gets up and does a 20-minute sound effects extravaganza in my honor (HONKING, GUNFIRE, SHEEP, PAKISTANI SHOUTING, DOLPHINS), which of course got a standing ovation (ROAR) and that was when I started to feel something in my stomach that I wished I was not feeling. (STOMACH GURGLING). As a woman in a sequined dress who I never saw before in my life was introducing me—
SS (MARILYN): He's known as the radio man's radio man who is fatuous for his — sorry, famous for his wonderful sense of tumor — a man whom all of us count as our very close, very dear, very personal friend…
GK: And suddenly I felt a gurgling in my stomach (SFX) and I thought of the shrimp and I remembered that I was the only person eating shrimp. Everybody else ate the celery. I ate the shrimp. (SFX) Shrimp that had been sitting on the tray for a long time. That's the difference between big stars and us little people. We see the shrimp, we go for the shrimp. They know better. (SFX) It was dark in the auditorium. I headed (QUICK FOOTSTEPS) for the men's room (STOMACH GROWLS), figuring I'd have the bathroom to yourself, but then-(DOOR OPENS, MEN MURMURING) I forgot that this was an older crowd.
TR (DeNIRO): Hey. It's you. I been looking around for you. I love your work. I love it so much I wanna give you a great big hug. Come here. What's the matter. You got some look on your face.
GK: I do. It's a look called pain. (STOMACH GURGLING)
TR (DeNIRO): Come here. Whatsamatter? You got something against guys hugging? Huh?
GK: No, it's the shrimp.
TR (DeNIRO): What? You calling me a shrimp? Huh? What's that about? I'm about to give you a hug and you — why you—(STRUGGLE) And I could feel that bad shrimp. (FN DEEP: BAD SHRIMP. STAND AWAY FROM THE SHRIMP) And I could feel this convulsive wave-like action in my digestive tract
GK: Wouldn't this be a good time for a piece of Rhubarb Pie? Yes, nothing gets the taste of shame and humiliation out of your mouth like Beebopareebop Rhubarb Pie.
Just one little thing can revive a guy,
And that is a piece of rhubarb pie.
Serve it up, nice and hot.
Maybe things aren't as bad as you thought.
Mama's little baby loves rhubarb, rhubarb,
Beebopareebop Rhubarb Pie.
Mama's little baby loves rhubarb, rhubarb,
Beebopareebop Rhubarb Pie.
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).