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Articles - Stuart McLean - The Vinyl Cafe


CBC Radio Two Saturday 10:00 - 11:00 A.M
CBC Radio One Sunday 12:00 - 1:00 P.M.
CBC Shortwave

The Vinyl Café with genial host Stuart McLean is the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's ( CBC ) best and most loved show. It has been around for about 10 years and the format of the show has not changed much. Stuart McLean first appeared on Morningside with Peter Gzowski and then graduated to his own show around 1996. The Vinyl Café is, in many ways, similar to Garrison Keillor's A Prairie Home Companion and tales from Lake Wobegon, but there are quite a few differences between Stuart McLean and Garrison Keillor and quite a few more differences between The Vinyl Café and A Prairie Home Companion.

The most important difference is time. A Prairie Home Companion is a two-hour show while the Vinyl Café is only an hour long. Both A Prairie Home Companion and The Vinyl Café feature musical segments with famous or unknown musicians but Stuart McLean may have a more eclectic taste for his musical guests than rather staid Garrison Keillor. A Prairie Home Companion also has commercials, not the funny commercials about catsup or rhubarb and other Lake Woebegone staples but real commercials (very subtle plugs about a sleep comfort mattress, Toyota,  and Land's End) while The Vinyl Café, being on Canadian national public radio has no such ads, not even fake funny commercials. Both Stuart McLean and Garrison tell a weekly (well, when the show is recorded live in the case of The Vinyl Café) funny story about people in their " hometown ". The funny stories at The Vinyl Café are about Dave, the owner of the Vinyl Café, Morley, his wife, their two kids, and the odd neighbor. Garrison Keillor tells a weekly, usually somewhat funny story about the people of Lake Wobegon, a small town that, like Jessica Fletcher's Cabot Cove has more characters than actual inhabitants.

Another major difference between A Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keillor and The Vinyl Café with Stuart McLean is that The Vinyl Café is not always live in front of an audience. Often, Stuart McLean is in a Toronto studio content with playing various tracks from the various cds he has received and by very varied musicians in very different musical styles.

Without any doubt, the greatest difference between The Vinyl Café and A Prairie Home Companion is that one is Canadian and the other American. There are no political or religious asides or messages or propaganda at The Vinyl Cafe. Garrison Keillor may see A Prairie Home Companion and Lake Wobegon as his bully pulpit ( and bully is quite appropriate sometimes) but Stuart McLean sees The Vinyl Cafe as a meeting place for various kinds of people. It is interesting to note that although Garrison Keillor lets you know he is from Lake Wobegon, Stuart McLean makes it clear that the story he is telling you was either told to him by Dave, owner of the Vinyl Cafe, or something he heard by hanging around the Vinyl Cafe. Finally, although both A Prairie Home Companion and The Vinyl Cafe have an annual funny Christmas story, where do you think you will hear the story "Christmas With Rasheeda and Ahmeer" ? A hint? Well, this funny story is available on the Vinyl Cafe: Coast to Coast double comedy CD set. Rasheeda and Ahmeer most certainly do not live in Lake Wobegon.

Not all Vinyl Cafe shows are live recordings. About half the time, and the schedule is irregular, Stuart McClean plays records in the studio and sometimes replays a Dave and Morley story from one of his comedy CDs. These shows are sometimes good, sometimes okay, but nothing beats the live performance shows 

Richard Lanoie

Other Stuart McLean Reviews

A Story-Gram From Vinyl Cafe Inc: Great collection of stories.

Stories from the Vinyl Cafe: a wonderful introduction to the funny world of Stuart McLean

Vinyl Cafe Coast To Coast: fifth comedy CD release of Stuart McLean's funny stories

Vinyl Cafe Odd Jobs: Any fan of comedy and a well-told funny story will thoroughly enjoy

The Vinyl Cafe On Tour: Excellent 2 CD set of comic stories

Vinyl Cafe A Christmas Collection: 7 different Dave and Morley Christmas Stories from Stuart McClean and the Vinyl Cafe includes Dave Cooks the Turkey of course.



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