Guy Noir (The Prairie Home Companion)

Created by Garrison B. Keillor

“It was Valentine’s Day in Minnesota. It was cold and dark and bitter and that was just the people.”

“A dark night in a city that knows how to keep its secrets. . . . But on the 12th Floor of the Acme Building, one man is still trying to find the answers to life’s persistent questions: Guy Noir, Private Eye.”

Like The Firesign Theatre‘s Nick Danger before him, GUY NOIR is a radio parody of old radio shows, the private detective genre, and just about any other target that comes into range.

But Guy lacks the loopy anarchy and abrasive cutting edge that The Firesign Theatre often brought to their satire, replacing it with a tongue-in-cheek, just folks here vibe. And no wonder. Guy appeared in a series of radio sketches by certified “nice guy” Garrison Keillor, along with Walter Bobbie and the rest of NPR’s Prairie Home Companion cast, a radio show that made its debut when, as Guy puts it, “Jesus was in the third grade.”

Still, the skits, which range from a few minutes to close to a quarter of an hour, are generally good-natured fun, complete with all the expected cracking of the wise, surreal plot twists, bad/great puns and all the guns going off all over the place that you’ve come to expect from any private eye spoof worth its fedora and office bottle. And Guy’s a likable enough companion for a guided tour through the not-really-that-mean streets of St. Paul, Minnesota; a good-hearted dick prone to a little existentialist musing and “Did he really say that?” dead-pan observations. Particulalry when it comes to the ladies. This guy, you see, notices things…

He works out of the downtown Acme Building, but was originally from the New England village of (everyone take a breath) Piscacatawamaquoddymoggin.

And in his quiet, unassuming way, he’s infiltrated the culture, even showing up in the 2006 film A Prairie Home Companion, played by Kevin Kline. In the film, the perpetually down-on-his-luck gumshoe is reduced to working as a security guard at the radio show to pay the bills.


  • “She had a Mount Rushmore t-shirt on, and those guys never looked so good. Especially Jefferson and Lincoln. Kind of bloated but happy.”
    Guy notices things…
  • “She was tall, blonde, in jeans that looked sprayed on and a T-shirt so tight I could study her bone structure. I could see she wasn’t from Duluth. There were no chinstrap marks on her neck, her hair hadn’t been deformed by stocking caps, she didn’t have that roll of fat around her middle… her midriff was as tight as the cap on a pickle jar.”
  • “She was tall and dark and so beautiful you wanted to just give her all your money right way and skip the preliminaries.”
  • “She looked as if she had been poured into her pants and forgot to say ‘when’.”
  • Rhonda Johnson: Hey, that was a terrific eulogy you gave old man Soderbergh at his memorial service.
    Garrison Keillor: Thank you.
    Guy Noir: Too bad the old coot couldn’t have been there to hear it.
    Yolanda Johnson: Yeah… and to have missed it by just a few days.
  • Guy Noir: Look, I’m a man of the world like yourself. But these people, they’ve put their lives into this show.
    Axeman: Well now they can put their lives into something else. That’s the beauty of the world, there’s always something to put your life into.


    (1974-2016, NPR)
    Series of radio sketches on The Prairie Home Companion
    Starring Garrison Keillor as GUY NOIR
    and Walter Bobbie as Pete
    Guy Noir made its debut in 1995. in countlesss, often untitled sketches. Some of the episodes featuring him include:

    • “Picnic Plaid” (May 24, 1997)
    • “Missing Fish” (December 10 1998)
    • “Hotdish Hangover” (December 4, 1999)
    • “Snow Job” (January 13, 2001)
    • “Bad Blood” (November 9, 2002)
    • “Movie Shoot” (June 7, 2003)
    • “Gotham Gets The Girl” (October 18, 2003)
    • “Gotta Go” (December 6, 2003)
    • “Renata Flambe” (December 20, 2003)
    • “Bad Grits” (February 14, 2004)
    • “Operator” (November 20, 2004)




    (2006, Picturehouse)
    Directed by Robert Altman
    Starring Meryl Streep, Tommy Lee Jones, Lily Tomlin, Lindsay Lohan, Virginia Madsen, Woody Harrelson, John C. Reilly and Kevin Kline as Guy Noir


Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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