Mark Russell, As Finalist Judge

The Robert Benchley Society is proud to welcome national humorist and entertainer Mark Russell who has agreed to serve as finalist judge for our 2011 Robert Benchley Society Award For Humor Writing competition.

Mark Russell's topical and political humor and music parodies, have pleased us all for more than three decades in personal performances, television shows, and radio broadcasts. Mark Russell's own website is at www.markrussell.net.

In 2011 Russell will take some time away from his piano to read and rank the top entries by writers in this year's Robert Benchley Society Award For Humor competition.

1. Entry Requirement

Entries must be:
  1. Your Original Work;
  2. Benchleyesque (in the sense of reflecting Benchley's style and humor);
  3. Not more than 500 words in length;
  4. In the English language;
  5. Accompanied by an entry fee of $10; and
  6. Submitted by e-mail, on or before MAY 1, 2011, according to THE ELECTRONIC SUBMISSION PROCEDURE (see item 3 below).

Entries are limited to one per person.

Submission of an entry to this competition grants the Robert Benchley Society permission to publish the entry on the Society's websites, blogs, and online communications. All other rights are retained by the author.

2009 Winner - Ed Tasca

2006 Winner - W. Bruce Cameron

2. Judging Rules

All judging will be done in accordance with WBC rules:
  1. There is no standing 8 count and no 3 knockdown rule;
  2. Fighter can be saved by the bell in the last round only;
  3. A 10 point must system is in effect;
  4. Accidental head butt goes to the scorecard after the fourth round.
  5. None of the above;
Officers and family members of officers of the National RBS, and judges are excluded;

Preliminary and Finalist judges will select and or rank entries based on their determination of each essay's reflection of Robert Benchley's style and humor;

The top four finalist entries will be ranked 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th by our finalist judge, MARK RUSSELL.

Winners will be announced September, 2011, by the Robert Benchley Society.

2006 and 2007 Finalist Judge Dave Barry

With Ridley Pearson and 2005 Winner Horace J. Digby

3. Required Electronic Submission Procedure

Entries must be accompanied by $10 entry fee, payable through PayPal. Your entry fee will be used to cover the costs associated with the competition, including a nice plaque for the winner and perhaps other insignificant prizes.

Essays must be in MS Word or HTML format attached to an e-mail message. Essays shall contain no identifying information (i.e. name, address, etc). Your name, address, and phone number must be in the body of your e-mail message.

To enter, go to the Robert Benchley Society official website link below. When you get to the Robert Benchley site, click on the PayPal "Buy Now" button located there. After making your payment you will be automatically redirected to a page from which you may submit your entry.

2008 finalist judge Bob Newhart

2011 Judging Schedule
May 1, 2011
May 15 - June 15, 2011
June 20 - July 20, 2011
September, 2011

Official Robert Benchley Society Website

Dave Barry Names Daniel Montville Winner of the 2007 Robert Benchley Society Award for Humor

Miami, Florida -Pulitzer Prize winning humorist, Dave Barry has named Daniel Montville ofOak 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 said, "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 SantaMonica, California, an internationally syndicated humor columnist for the Rocky Mountain News is also the bestselling author ofEight 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 2005has been invited backas 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 thecompetition 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 THERAVEN 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, andI 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, sunblock 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, whichhe 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 findwining and finalist entries for the past two years.

Copyright(c) 2011 Lexington Film, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Official Robert Benchley Society Website

Bob NewhartNames Mad Kane Winner 2008 Robert Benchley Society Award for Humor
LOS ANGELES, CA. -- Bob Newhart, perhaps the most celebrated comedian-humorist-actor-author-former accountant in show-business history, author of the new show business autobiography "I Shouldn't Even Be Doing This," taking time out from his busy schedule to serve as finals judge, namedpast NSNC honoree Madeleine Begun Kane, winner of the 2008 Robert Benchley Society Award for Humor.
In a hand-written note Newhart told Kane, "I don't know if Robert Benchley ever commented on operas in his writings, but it is certainly a subject I suspect he would have handled exactly as you did."
Newhart, in an earlier interview for A3Radio out of Ann Arbor, Michigan, past Benchley Society award winner Horace J. Digby that he had always considered Benchley a major influence for his own humor. "Really good writing is timeless," Newhart said. "Benchley created like the persona Jack Benny created a man who was very much full of himself, but in a self-deprecating way." The interview is online at: lexingtonfilm.com/newhartinterview.htm.
"There is no question in my mind," Newhart said in a follow-up note to Digby, "that Benchley helped construct the comedic lens through which I view the world. I think his [Benchley's] influence is certainly discernable in 'Abe Lincoln' and 'King Kong.'"

On learning Newhart had ranked her essay first, Kane was uncharacteristically at a loss for words, saying only, "Yikes! I can't believe it! Thanks! . . . I'm still in shock . . ." Then, composing herself,Kane said, "Now that I've actually won I'm thrilled and honored, but being Jewish, I'm still anxious," eluding to the limerick she had written to celebrate being named a finalist:
"I can barely maintain my sobriety Cuz the great Robert Benchley Society Held a contest and wow, I'm a finalist now. Will I win the top prize? High anxiety!"
Kane's essays have appeared in Family Circle, America Online, Newsday, The Chicago Tribune, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Miami Herald, The Houston Chronicle, The New York Times, The L. A. Times Syndicate, Knight-Rider/Tribune News Service, and on National Public Radio. She bills herself, as "Mad" Kane, political satirist, parodist and recovering lawyer. In 1995 Kane's humor was honored by the National Society of Newspaper Columnists. Her website, madkane.com, has received accolades from USA Today, Shift Magazine, Maxim Magazine, The Guardian and other media.
For 2008 Newhart also named 3 Benchley Society Medalists: Mike Tuck of Hopkins, MN, Jesse Levy of North Hollywood, CA, and Denise G. Weeks (aka Shalanna Collins) of Richardson, TX,who were Kane's first, second and third runners-up. All winning essays can be viewed at robertbenchley.org/competition.
First runner-up, Mike Tuckcaptured the tone of this year's competition. "Knowing Bob Newhart actually read something I wrote (even if he barely got through the first paragraph before crumpling and tossing it) is intimidating. I have grown up with Newhart's albums, stand-up, movies and television to understand and appreciate what a brilliant humorist he is. This would be the highlight of my career if I had one," Tuck said.
The Robert Benchley Society Award for Humor competition is open to amateurs and professionals alike.

"All entries are read blind, so, in 2008, neither Bob Newhart, nor any of the preliminary judges knew who wrote any of the essays. This makes the competition entirely merit based," said Horace J. Digby, 2005 Robert Benchley Society Award for Humor first-place winner. Digby enjoyed the competition so much, he has returned for the past three years to help with judging and to work with celebrity judges like Dave Barry andBob Newhart.

Past competitors and winners have included amature and fledgling writers right along side of some of our nation's top humor writers, like 2006 first-place winner W. Bruce Cameron, internationally-syndicated best-selling author of Eight Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter, inspiration for the John Ritter, ABC/Disney Emmy Award winning television series by the same name. Cameron'snewest book, Eight Simple Rules for Marrying My Daughter,has already become a motion picture project, when rights for Cameron's sequel were acquired by 26 Films production company (principals are Michelle Chydzik Sowa and Nathalie Marciano), as a new project for producer Wendy Finerman (The Devil Wears Prada).

About the Robert Benchley Society Award for Humor

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 faron 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'sown 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."


For more information about Robert Benchley and how you can win the 2006 Robert Benchley Society Award for Humor, go to www.robertbenchley.orgor lexingtonfilm.com/barrytojudge.htm.

Copyright © 2006 Lexington Film, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Official Robert Benchley Society Rules& Procedure
Return to Horace J. Digby and Lexington Film

Copyright© 2008 Lexington Film, LLC. All Rights Reserved.