A Conversation for Fairy Tales

The Grim Cinderella

Post 1


This is a transcript of a radio skit performed by Garrison Keillor and his radio company in the 1990s (before he revived Prairie Home Companion).

KEILLOR (narrating): There have been many translations of the fairy tale "Cinderella" over the years, and all have watered down the original. Scenes of violence, brutality and intrigue have been excised from the cartoons and plays, for the Brothers were very faithful to the oral tradition. They weren't called "Grimm" for nothing. But we belive it's time to go back to the original, and so we perfrom for you now, "The Grimm Cinderella."


KEILLOR: There once was a man who had a daughter...

CINDERELLA'S FATHER, in a thick German accent: Mein kinder, life is a zeries of betrayals. It iss not a Disney movie- it is not even a Han Christian Anderson story. And you are soon to find zat out, sanks to me!

CINDERELLA: Why do you say that, Daddy?

DADDY: I am marrying a vooman vith two daughters. I know this may seem abrupt; zis iss just zer vay. But zey are older and better connected zan you are. And you must obey zem!!!

KEILLOR: Cinderella tried to obey her stepsisters, but it was hard.

SISTER #1: I gotta math problem for ya, jarhead! Find the square root of pi.

SISTER #2: And Fair-of-Face, I just spilled my lintils and peas into the fireplace ashes, could you fish those out? And freshen up my drink, honey.

KEILLOR: At first, they wanted to put her by the wet bar.

#1: We'll call her Barbarella!

KEILLOR: But then they moved her to the fireplace, so not only did poor Cinderella have to endure her stepsister's taunts, but the house's invasion of silverfish, as well.
Then one day, an announcement rang throughout the land...


KEILLOR: The prince was throwing a grand ball for all the eligible young ladies in the kingdom in hopes that he might choose a bride. On the night of the ball, Cinderella's little house buzzed with excitement.

#1: Gimme that makeup brush!

#2: Here's the makeup and a trowel. Kinda heavy on the foundation, don't you think?

CINDERELLA: Please, may I go too?

#1: Of course not! You haven't got anything appropriate to wear!

Cinderella starts singing sadly.

KEILLOR: Cinderella looked down at her little quilted mumu and decided her stepsisters were right. As she watched them drive away in the carriage, she wept bitter tears. Two of them fell onto her fireplace set, and the little poker she'd used so many times began to shiver and shake, kicking up a cloud of dust and ash, out of which stepped...

CINDERELLA: Oh! Are you my fairy godmother? The one of cried for and dreamed of so many months?

FG: That's right, Helga.


FG: That's right, I know your real name. You can't fool me with that sympathy ploy, Cinderella.

CINDERELLA: Why haven't you come before now?

FG: Challenge and Response. Without a challenge, there is no response.

CINDERELLA: I've been so sad and lonely.

FG: That's my theory of child-rearing.

CINDERELLA: Please, may I go to the ball?

FG: Have you finished all your work? All those lintils, cleaned out of the fireplace?

CINDERELLA: Yes, yes they are.

FG: And what about the square root of pi?

CINDERELLA: Well, I've been working on it... (paper rustles) See? I think it's almost done!

FG: Oh, all right then...

CINDERELLA: Oh, thank you, Fairy Godmother!

FG: Just be back by midnight or... let's just say every parent of a teenager asks how I do this one!

KEILLOR: Fairy Godmother waved an andiron over Cinderella's hat, and suddenly she was wearing a georgeous gown and glass slippers.

FG: Oh, I forgot about the toenails!

KEILLOR: Cinderella was suddenly clean and pedicured. A georgeous carriage pulled up to the door and a footman opened it for her.

CINDERELLA: Thank you!

FG: Just brind them back with thier feedbags full... and remember, midnight!

KEILLOR: When Cinderella arrives at the palace, she couldn't believe its opulence. The vats of boiling lard, the gargoyles, everything new and exciting.

PRINCE: You are beautiful and young. I am the Prince. Dance with me!

DRUNKARD, slurring: Hey, I was next in line!

PRINCE: Slay him!

Drunkard's protests fade as he is carried off.

STEPESISTER #1, referring to Cinderella: Who is she?

#2: Must be some foreign princess. She's no competition for us- probably doesn't speak a word of low dialect.

#1: Nice shoes.

PRINCE to Cinderella: Where are you from?

CINDERELLA: Very close, and yet, very far.

PRINCE: You aren't answering my question. I don't like people who cross me!

The Drunkard's screams are heard from a distance.

CINDERELLA: I can't answer your question! It's almost midnight!

Sound of running shoes

PRINCE: Wait! Don't run away!

KEILLOR: But Cinderella did run. She ran so fast, she lost a slipper.


PRINCE: Wait! Your slipper!

KEILLOR: Cinderella leaped into the carriage and sent it galloping homeward, where her clothes became rags again and her grand carriage became a large eggplant.

CINDERELLA, panting: Home! I made it.

KEILLOR: The next day, the Prince went searching throughout the land for the girls whose foot would fit the slipper. In the end, he came to thier door.

STEPSISTER #1: Oh, your Highness! Please come in.

PRINCE: Give me your foot!

#1: Your Highness, a lady never exposes her toes in public. Let me try this on in my boudoir.

Door closes.

#1, struggling: I can't get my foot into it! My heel's too big! Aw nuts... Well, I'll fix that. Where's the cheese grater?

A sawing noise commmences.

#1: There! It fits!

Door opens

#1: Ta-da! It fits! I'm your lady.

The Prince helped her into the carriage, but he noticed something odd.

PRINCE: I don't remember that slipper having a red heel. And you're looking a little pale...

#1: It's nothing, my own one.

PRINCE: Hey, wait... your heel is shredded! It looks like Parmesian cheese! Forget it, out! Vamoose!

KEILLOR: The Prince returned...

STEPSISTER #2: My sister is so jealous. I', the one you're looing for.

PRINCE: We'll see about that. Put that shoe one and ignore the stain.

#2: I'll be right back...

Door closes

#2: This thing is three sizes too small! Well, I never liked these toes anyway. Where's the paring knife?

Sawing follows. Door opens.

#2: See? A perfect fit.

PRINCE: Oh, really? Take that thing off! (A few beats and a gurgle noise) Oh, yuck! Get lost!

#2: Drat it!

PRINCE: Is there no other woman here?

#2: There's Cinderella, but she can't be the one you're looking for.

PRINCE: I'll be the judge of that. Step up here!

CINDERELLA: Allow me to wash that slipper for you, sir. (Groans with disgust as she wipes it out)

PRINCE: This time, I'll put it on the foot.

KEILLOR: And it fit like it was made for her.

PRINCE, doubtful: You're the one? I don't know... you must have done your hair a bit differently...

KEILLOR: But then Cinderella smiled, and the Prince knew he'd found the right woman. That's the way the story truly ends. Of course, the Stepsisters went to the wedding to curry favor.

#1: I love this castle, Prince!

#2: Yes, with those dark bricks and boar's heads!

KEILLOR: But as they rode tot he church, doves descended and pecked out an eye from each of them.

#1 AND #2: Ow!

KEILLOR: And as they left, the doves returned and each pecked out the other eye.

#1 AND #2: Ow!

KEILLOR: So in addition to the loss of a heel and several toes, the Stepsisters paid for thier wickedness and treachery. As for Cinderella's husband: being German, he grew moody and impulsive as he grew older and became obsessed with inventing a new horn instrument.


KEILLOR: Cinderella loved him, though, and they all lived happily ever after.


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The Grim Cinderella

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