The Vinyl Cafe Podcast

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.


  1. Cool. I’ll have to blog about this, too.

    If you read any of McLean’s Vinyl Cafe books, you’ll find yourself reading it in his manner, as if YOU are him – his enunciation, cadence, tone… it’s weird. You can’t help yourself. Go on, try it.

  2. Oh, dear, he feels so imitative to me. David Sedaris and Calvin Trillin and anyone at McSweeney’s… well, good enough for me.

  3. Meg: I’m pretty unfamiliar with all those folks, so I can say who’s imitating whom. He could teach Dave Eggers a lesson in editing, though–that dude is verbose.

  4. I like him, and recently bought some tickets for our family to see him when he comes to Vancouver on Dec. 2.

    It’s a Christmas themed one, and I figure it might just kick-start my holiday spirit.

  5. Oh Meg I remember Stuarts show when my kids were babies, that was back in the early nineties. I think those other guys are imitating him. Kerry Anne enjoy the show. It is well worth it. I’ve been listening to him off and on for years. A while ago someone gave us one of his books for Christmas. I’ve pretty well had my fill of Dave and Morley. I don’t think I will be subscribing to the podcast…

  6. Well, Trillin started in 1963, so I think it’s safe to say they’re imitating him if they’re imitating anyone. 🙂

    He writes a different kind of thing than McLean, though — McLean is much more like Keillor with the small town, ordinary people vibe, and he published his first story in 1970.

    Sedaris is something else entirely — much more edgy, which I like. And so is Eggers, though I have no idea who is influencing that guy. Coupland? Lawrence Sterne? Heh.

  7. I really don’t understand what anyone sees in Stuart McLean’s material. I’d put it on a par with listening to your maiden aunt tell you about her week. His attempts to be funny fall really flat. Predictable, sappy, trite.

  8. I genuinely appreciate this post. I’ve been seeking all over for this! Thank goodness I discovered it on Bing. You have created my day! Thank you once again..

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: