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ROBERT BENCHLEY SOCIETY
AWARD FOR HUMOR
Dave Barry Names Daniel Montville
Winner off the 2007 Robert Benchley Society Award for Humor
Miami, Florida - Pulitzer Prize winning humorist, Dave Barry has named Daniel Montville of Oak Park, Illinois, first place winner of the 2007 Robert Benchley Society Award for Humor for his essay "How to Write a Book."
Barry called Montville's essay, "A smart, silly essay written in the classic Benchley how-to style. The opening sentence establishes the confidently insane tone: 'There couldn't be a better time for you to write a book because nobody reads any more (I certainly don't).'"
Upon receiving news of his win, Montville wrote, "I am the 2007 winner of the Robert Benchley Society Humor Writing Competition. . . . It's really a classy looking plaque, and it now occupies a prominent spot on our mantle, right next to my Smokey The Bear Junior Fire Ranger Certificate I received in 1957."
Barry gave second place honors to George Waters, of Pasadena California, for "T'ai Chi for Beginners" or "War and Peace."
Pointing out that Waters' essay had an excellent opening sentence, Barry summarized the essay's impact on him. "I personally have never tried T'ai Chi, but after reading Waters' relentlessly uninformative take on the subject, I've decided that I don't want to," Barry said.
Ed Tasca of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, took third place with "Hello again, Mr. Uh--!?."
Dave Barry found that, "Tasca hilariously explores, in Benchley style, the problem of being unable to remember anything, including the mnemonics that you're supposed to remember to help you remember things, which you tend to forget (I refer here to the mnemonics) (I think)."
Jennifer Byrne, of Glassboro, New Jersey took fourth place for her essay, "You Shouldn’t Have (Really)."
"I have long been puzzled by the fact that cat owners tolerate a pet that keeps bringing them gifts of dead animals and animal parts. Finally, Byrne has provided an answer: cat owners are insane," Barry said.
Against all odds Byrne and Tasca were also both top finalists in 2006 and Tasca has finished in the top four during each of the past three years.
The 2006 first place winner W. Bruce Cameron, of Santa Monica, California, an internationally syndicated humor columnist for the Rocky Mountain News is also the bestselling author of Eight Simple Rules For Dating My Teenage Daughter, which inspired the ABC/Disney John Ritter situation comedy by the same name.
"Working with Dave Barry and the other judges has been a real treat for all of us, and we are all looking forward to having Bob Newhart join us as finalist Judge for 2008," said Horace J. Digby. Digby, who won the Robert Benchley Society Award for Humor in 2005 has been invited back as a preliminary judge for the event. "Judges face a real challenge every year," Digby said. "We read all of the entries 'blind,' meaning none of us knows who wrote any particular essay. This makes the competition entirely merit based," Digby said.
In addition to Barry and Digby, the 2007 judges included: Gordon E. Ernst, author of Robert Benchley An Annotated Bibliography; Kevin Fitzpatrick, Chairperson of the Dorothy Parker Society of New York, and author of A Journey into Dorothy Parker's New York; MIT genius, Steven Jens; gifted writer and Renaissance woman, Eileen Forster Keck; Robert Benchley Society officers David and Sharon Lyon; celebrated puzzle designer, Chris Morgan; Tom Saunders, an on-air radio personality for the A3 Radio Network out of Ann Arbor, Michigan; and Robert Benchley Society chairman, David Trumbull.
"Other 2007 finalists were: Diana Grove of New Orleans, Louisiana for 'A Perfectly Acceptable Pet;' Brenda Pontiff of Los Angeles, California for 'A Warning Concerning Self-Help Propaganda;' Mary Lyn Eagle, aka Marie Hawk, of Oroville, Washington for 'Step by Step Instructions for Surviving a Computer Melt Down;' John Parnell of Macon, Georgia for 'I Stared at M Executive Editor's E-mail to Me . . .' David Carlyon of Larchmont, New York for 'The Next Robert Benchley;' and Anthony Martinetti of Pawtucket, Rhode Island for 'While Reading THE RAVEN on Wikipedia.'"
Dave Barry gave his "congratulations to all of the finalists for their fine and funny work. It wasn't easy to narrow it down . . ."
The Robert Benchley Society Award for Humor is given each year to honor the memory and work of that great American humorist. As a member of the famous Algonquin Round Table, Benchley built a new foundation for American humor during the 1920s, 30s and 40s, writing for The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, the Hearst newspapers, and other publications. He also established a successful film career. Benchley is revered by serious students of humor. Ironically, Dave Barry has often said he always wanted to write like Robert Benchley, but today, the easiest way to describe Benchley, is to tell people he was the Dave Barry of his day—either that, or tell them he was Peter Benchley's grandfather.
"Writers and entertainers like Woody Allen, Steve Martin, Bob Newhart, Dave Barry, Jonathan Winters, Richard Pryor, Steve Allen, Shelly Berman, Russell Baker, Calvin Trillin, Ed Tasca, Dan Burt, Christopher Perdue, W. Bruce Cameron, and I eagerly acknowledge a great debt to Robert Benchley's innovative work," Digby said.
Traditionally Robert Benchley Society Award winners give an acceptance speech. In 2006 W. Bruce Cameron said he was delighted over his victory, and wanted to thank Dave Barry, the Robert Benchley Society, the U.S. Constitution, his automobile lease, the soundtrack from the movie Serpico, sun block and . . . others." "I couldn't have done it without them!" Cameron said.Prior to winning the Benchley, Cameron had already distinguished himself. In addition to writing Eight Simple Rules, which inspired the Emmy Award winning Disney/ABC television series staring the late John Ritter, Cameron's book, How to Remodel a Man, was also a best seller, and he had just completed his first feature length movie, Cook Off, which he wrote and helped produce. A frequent guest on Good Morning America, the CBS Early Show, The Anderson Cooper Show, Oprah, CNN, Fox News, Cameron's articles have appeared in Time magazine, O, the Oprah magazine and many other publications. "I also write for my homeowners Association Newsletter," Cameron said.
"It was a pleasure to see so many fine, funny writers emulating the Great One," Barry said. "I'm sure if Bob Benchley were alive today, he'd say, 'Whoa! I am 117 years old!' But I'm also sure he would be pleased, with, and impressed by, these entries," Barry said.
Dave Barry spoke for all of us in his letter congratulating the 2007 Robert Benchley Society Award for Humor winners when he wrote, "Again, thanks for letting me be part of keeping the Benchley tradition alive."
Take a moment for a good laugh and check out robertbenchley.org. You will find wining and finalist entries for the past two years.
About the Robert
FEBRUARY 23, 2006, BOSTON -- Dave Barry, Pulitzer Prize winning humorist, author of the New York Times best seller Dave Barry's Money Secrets, and life-long fan of Robert Benchley, has agreed to judge finalist entries in the 2006 Robert Benchley Society Award for Humor competition sponsored by the Robert Benchley Society.
"We're looking for the next Robert Benchley," said David Trumbull, chairman of the Robert Benchley Society," and Dave Barry, America's leading Humorist, has agreed to help, thanks to the efforts of our 2005 Humor Award winner, Horace J. Digby."
"If you have a funny bone and can write, you can be a part of it. All you have to do is write a short original article (500 words or less) in the style of Robert Benchley and send it to the Robert Benchley Society no later than April 15th. We and Dave Barry will do the rest," Trumbull said.
The Robert Benchley Society, a not-for-profit organization, was founded in Boston, Massachusetts, in 2003. It has since grown to include members in several countries. Information about the Society may be found at www.robertbenchley.org.
Robert Benchley (Grandfather of Peter Benchley who wrote Jaws) rose to fame as a leading humorist in the 1920s writing for Harvard Lampoon, The New Yorker, Vanity Fair—where he shared an office with Dorothy Parker—Life magazine, and as a humor columnist for the Hearst Newspapers. Benchley was also notorious as a member of the Algonquin Round Table. Today's leading humorists, including Dave Barry, Woody Allen, Bob Newhart, Russell Baker, and Steve Martin, gratefully acknowledge Robert Benchley's influence on their work. www.natbenchley.com www.answers.com/topic/robert-benchley
"It is easy to find quotations by Barry extolling Benchley as his humor hero.
"Robert Benchley is my idol," Barry told The Writer Magazine. "I've been reading him since I was a kid, and still return to his essays regularly for inspiration." www.writermag.com/wrt/default.aspx?c=a&id=850
In an interview for Time Magazine, Barry told Jeff Chu that besides his mother, the biggest influence by far on his humor was Robert Benchley. "I always wanted to write like him . . ." Barry said. iaisnd.com/archivednews.cfm?id=533
In a review of Nathaniel Benchley's book, The Benchley Round Up, Barry said, "My favorite book is any collection of the columns of the great Robert Benchley. My dad had a bunch of Benchley books around the house when I was a boy, and I read them voraciously - that's when I realized I wanted to be a humor writer." www.readersclub.org/reviews/tresults.asp?id=2353
Barry's own website, www.davebarry.com/faq_for_students.html, ranks the influences on the Dave Barry style of humor in the following order: 1) his parents, especially his mom; 2) Robert Benchley; and 3) Mad Magazine.
The Annenberg Media Foundation quotes Barry as saying, "The guy who made me laugh the most of all is dead. Is Robert Benchley. I always wanted to be like Robert Benchley. Um, not in the sense of being dead. I'd like to be Robert Benchley,but not dead."
Horace J. Digby, winner of the 2005 Robert Benchley Society Award for Humor, found HIS first Benchley book in HIS parents attic. "I was eight years old, pretending to be too sick to go to school. I never knew adults wrote books like that. It was love at first sight. I read it over and over. That's when I knew I wanted to be a humor writer when I grew up . . . just like Robert Benchley," Digby said.
While Dave Barry and Horace J. Digby both spent their lives wanting to be like Benchley, it seems that for many today, Robert Benchley is considered "The Dave Barry of his day." www.answers.com/topic/robert-benchley
Here is how Mike Gerber, a Robert Benchley fan and best selling author of Barry Trotter and the Shameless Parody, put it. "Benchley’s stylistic influence has probably been greater than any other American humorist . . . Benchley-esque offhandedness is almost a prerequisite of writing humor in American English. He’s the Dave Barry of a more literate—and thoughtful—era."