Featured Employee Interview with
Writer Laura Buchholz

A writer talks about her favorite scripts and moments from this past season of A Prairie Home Companion.

July 15, 2008

Tell me a little bit about what you do for A Prairie Home Companion.

I write scripts, with varying degrees of success. Anything the actors are in, I may have been involved with.

What scripts are the most fun to write? What were your favorites this year?

I have a lot of fun with the Mom scripts, because there's a lot of screeching and crying, and who doesn't like that?It's fun to come up with shocking ways Mom imagines herself dying but I'm always afraid I'm going to run out of things.I don't think she's impaled herself yet or had dad shoot a cannon at her. So look for that. 

I always enjoy writing the ketchup scripts because they're so dry, and also they're wide open. I also like writing about animals a lot.  So, the September 15 Geese script comes to mind. Also the "Diary" script from Tanglewood ended up being pretty memorable (not about animals). "Diary" was more beautiful than comedy should be, thanks to Inga's song at the end.  Same with the Fairy script from October 6.The Skating script from January 26 was also fun—Sue and GK twirling around the stage, which you couldn't really see from home, I guess.

What kind of scenes do you like to write for our sound effects men, Fred Newman and Tom Keith?

I particularly enjoyed the script from April 12 where we revealed that Fred is the spiritual leader of a compound in Vermont, and he takes a helicopter up there and wears a white karate suit and a tiara and is worshipped by mature women in pilgrim dresses.  Fred is also our dolphin expert, whereas Tom is our chicken expert, so we work in those animals, respectively, depending on who is doing the show.

And Tom Keith wins the Audience Wince award for his leg-resetting bone crunch in the February 2 Swansons script.

Do you have any favorite accents that you like to hear Tim Russell read?

I love everything that Tim Russell does. He did a great job with our Bob Elliot script in New York, doing Wally Ballou (April 5).  I'm just going to assume that everybody remembers who Wally Ballou is so that those who don't are shamed into finding out, right this very instant.  (www.bobandray.com) I love Tim's droning preacher voice, and of course he does French and Russian and German accents to great effect—oh, and Ira Glass.  That's a new one.  Tim has played Ira in a few shows this season and it's my new favorite thing. And the Candidates script from February 9 is almost all Tim. Gore and Bush and Obama and McCain and Reagan—good stuff.

What was your favorite Sue Scott character this year?

Sue's "Mom" and also her Hillary Clinton were the obvious standouts.  And it seems she's gotten very good at portraying naked people who are getting sucked up to heaven in the Rapture. It's not a laugh-a-minute character, but I like what she does with Evelyn Beebalo in the Cowboys.  Very wistful and effective.

Where do you get your inspiration every week?

Under my basement stairs.  There's a raccoon who lives down there and scrawls ideas on a little piece of paper (they have very humanoid hands) and leaves them there for me to find on show weeks. His name is Lenny and we're thinking of giving him a writer's credit (or at least a contributor's credit) next season but for now he's okay with little pieces of ham.

What's the hardest part of writing a script: beginning, middle or end?


What characters would you like to have come back next year?

All of them. Plus some new ones. It's a party and everybody's invited.

Laura Buchholz grew up in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, and studied biology at Lawrence University before working on A Prairie Home Companion.  In her spare time she likes yoga, knitting, swimming, and performing improv.  Recently, she co-wrote the script for the play Jen and Angie.

Interview Archive

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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