Stuart McLean is Canada’s Garrison Keilor. His main gig is The Vinyl Cafe, an hour-long variety show on the CBC. These shows are anchored by McLean’s “Dave and Morley” stories–tales of a fictional Toronto family which feel a bit like “For Better or Worse” on the radio.
It’d be easy to dismiss McLean’s schtick as sappy, family-friendly entertainment, but I think what he does is quite tricky. He manages to tell richly-detailed, funny, charming stories about the mundane details of our lives. And he does it without resorting to a lot of comedic tricks–it’s all there in the strength of his writing and delivery. And his delivery is great–he’s a very natural storyteller and humourist.
I wouldn’t want to listen to him every day, but once a week would be quite enjoyable. And now I can, because the CBC just started podcasting the Dave and Morley story portion of The Vinyl Cafe broadcast. I’m subscribed.
UPDATE: Jody’s comment reminded me of something I meant to mention. I suspect McLean makes good money out of his Vinyl Cafe books and recordings, so it surprised me to see his material on iTunes for free. I suspect he conceives of it as a promotional strategy for expanding his audience. After all, the people listening to this podcast probably aren’t the same people who regularly buy his books and CDs.