From the Vault: Happiness Through Philosophy

[Okay, here’s the deal with the title of this post. I started blogging on Live Journal in April 2008. Over the last five and a half years I’ve picked up followers here and there, especially since March 2011 when I started posting my blog on Word Press, Tumblr, and Blog Spot in addition to ol’ Live Journal. So I’ve decided to occasionally repost updated versions of entries from those first three years for my new followers. For my LJ peeps still with me after five years, I hope you don’t mind the revised reruns.]

ImageThis year my daughter got to meet Garrison Keillor at the Minnesota State Fair. She’s been listening to him on A Prairie Home Companion as long as she can remember, so she was excited to spot him walking through the crowds. She followed him around until she got the courage to rush up and ask for a photo (snapped by a friend of hers). 

I’ve been listening to Garrison Keillor since about 1977. In 2003 I was one of only a few people who got a job interview with Keillor to join the show’s writing staff. The guy I’d been listening to since seventh grade said this to me in an email: “The sketch you wrote was funny and brisk and smart and all the things that we’re looking for (and not finding in ourselves).” 

That blew my mind. So did not getting the gig! But in honor of the tenth anniversary of my coolest and least successful job interview, here’s the sketch that allowed me to meet Garrison Keillor face-to-face, presented with all due bowing down to the cast it was written for, and in memory of Tom Keith (1946–2011). 

“Happiness Through Philosophy”

by Scott Pearson 

(GK: Garrison Keillor; SS: Sue Scott; TR: Tim Russell; Sound Effects: Tom Keith) 


SS: What’s the matter, dear? You’ve barely touched your tater tot bisque. 

GK: I don’t know. It’s just— 

SS: It’s the cumin, isn’t it? It’s too spicy. 

GK: No, no, the cumin’s fine. I’m just not that hungry. I’ve been depressed lately. The whole country has taken a wrong turn. I don’t know if anything will work out. It’s all out of my control. 

SS (AFTER A PAUSE): It’s the tater tots, isn’t it? It’s too crunchy for bisque. 

GK: No, no, the tater tots are fine. I just can’t enjoy your nouveau Minnesota cuisine when I have this miasma of melancholy, this— 

TR (FRENCH ACCENT THROUGHOUT): This malaise, this maladie, if you will? 

SS: Oh, look, dear, the late Jean-Paul Sartre, the famous French existentialist. Would you like some tater tot bisque, Monsieur Sartre? 

TR: No, thank you. 

SS: It’s the cumin, isn’t it? 

TR: No, I am certain the cumin is fine. 

GK: May we offer you some absinthe, Monsieur Sartre? 

TR: If you are having some, but do not get it just for me. 

GK: It’s no trouble, really, we already had some made. (SOFT POP OF BOTTLE BEING OPENED FOLLOWED BY GENTLE GURGLE OF POURING ABSINTHE) I hope instant is okay.

TR: This is fine, thank you. (SIPS LOUDLY) Hoy-oh! That puts the “sin” in absinthe, does it not? 

GK: (SIPPING) That’ll spin your beret, all right. 

SS: (SIPS) Trè oui. Tête de jambon et fromage, n’est-ce pas? (GURGLE OF ANOTHER ROUND BEING POURED, SOMEHOW SOUNDING SLOPPY, THEN MORE SIPPING) Shall we sing “La Marseillaise?” 

GK: No, please, I need to talk with Monsieur Sartre about something. 

SS: It’s the tater tots, isn’t it? 

GK AND TR: It’s not the tater tots. 

GK: Monsieur Sartre, you must be here to help me. How can I stop worrying about everything? I want to be happy, but it seems there’s so little I can do to change the world for the better. 

TR: Descartes said, “Conquer yourself rather than the world.” Very existential. If any solutions to your problems can be achieved by your actions, that is your responsibility. But if they are outside your influence, then forget about them. There is no outside force that can bend them to your will. 

GK: You’re right. Why do I take the weight of the world on my back when it’s out of my hands? It’s so simple. I feel so much better, so carefree! Merci beaucoup, Monsieur! Honey, pass the bisque! 


TR: Once again, happiness is achieved…through philosophy. 

GK: A Public Service Announcement brought to you by the Philosophy Advisory Board. “Philosophy—just think about it.”

[Original version posted May 7, 2008]


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