Boston, Mass -- David Trumbull, chairperson of the Robert Benchley Society has officially announced the top ten finalists for the 2007 Robert Benchley Society Award for Humor competition, whose entries have been submitted to none other than Pulitzer Prize winning humorist Dave Barry for final judging.
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The finalists are: Daniel Montville of Oak Park, Illinois for How to Write a Book; George Waters of Pasadena, California for "T'ai Chi for Beginners," or "War and Peace"; Jennifer Byrne of Glassboro, New Jersey for You Shouldn’t Have (Really); Diana Grove of New Orleans, Louisiana for A Perfectly Acceptable Pet; Ed Tasca of Toronto, Ontario for Hello again, Mr. Uh--!?; 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 my 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.
Official announcement Dave Barry's picks for this year's top four will be made July 16th. In past years first place has gone to W. Bruce Cameron, author of Eight Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter, which inspired the ABC/Disney Emmy Award winning television series starring the late John Ritter, and Horace J. Digby, who's online radio humor show for A3Radio.com, The Horace J. Digby Report, has attracted guest stars including Dave Barry, Bob Newhart, Elinor Lipman, Judy Carter, Dante, Jim Richardson, Gordon Kirkland, Steven Barnes and many others.
The Robert Benchley Society Award for Humor is given each year in honor of that great American humorist Robert Benchley who rose to fame 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 and Parker were charter member of the notorious Algonquin Round Table.
Benchley spawned four generations of writers. His son, Nathaniel Benchley, wrote the enormously popular novel "Off Islanders" which became the hit movie The Russians Are Coming the Russians Are Coming. Grandson Peter Benchley wrote Jaws and The Deep which also inspired motion pictures. And great-grandson Nat Benchley celebrates his great grandfather's career with the one-man show, Benchley Despite Himself.
Robert Benchley's work still inspires leading humorists, including Woody Allen, Bob Newhart, Russell Baker, Steve Martin and Dave Barry, who gratefully acknowledge Benchley's influence.
Dave Barry got his first taste of Benchley as a child. "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."
Entries are judged "blind," so none of the judges know who wrote any particular article, making the competition entirely merit based, Digby said. Judges this year include David Trumbull, Horace J. Digby, Gordon Ernst, Kevin Fitzpatrick, Eileen Forster Keck, Sharon Lyon, Chris Morgan and of course finalist judge Dave Barry.
"Once again it was an honor and a pleasure to judge the Robert Benchley Society Award for Humor. The finalists were excellent. I have no doubt if Bob Benchley himself were to come back from the grave and read these essays, he would smile with quiet pleasure and then go back to the grave because he forgot his umbrella," Barry said.
Judging was tough this year, "given the consistent quality of the entries," Barry added.
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