The Robert Benchley Society Gazette
(Formerly published as The Articles of Confederation)
Volume 1, Issue 2, September 2007
Humor Prizewinners and Annual Gathering in New York
by RBS Chairman, David Trumbull

Eighty-five years ago Robert Benchley first delivered "The Treasurer's Report" to a New York audience. Appropriately for an author who defined the smart set in The City in the 'twenties, we'll be raising our spirits and glasses in honor of "Sweet Old Bob," and recognizing the winners of the 2007 Benchley Humor Writing Competition, in Manhattan, October 5th and 6th at the fifth Robert Benchley Society Annual Gathering. This year we return to our 2003 and 2004 format of meeting in conjunction with the Dorothy Parker Society. Benchley went on, in 1928, to reprise "The Treasurer's Report" for the first all-talking motion-picture, a film, by the way, that is available for purchase at the RBS website --

Our own treasurer, David Lyon, and his wife Sharon, our secretary, have relocated (or more accurately re-relocated) to Ottawa, Ontario. What with board member Ed Tasca located in Ontario, it sounds like Mr. Benchley is on the way to a having a major presence in the great white north.

The fall of 2007 also marks the 80th anniversary of Robert Benchley's first appearance as a columnist and essayist in The New Yorker.

I look forward to seeing you all in New York.

Thank you all for your interest in the humor of Mr. Benchley, and for supporting this society.
I remain,
Your obedient servant,
D. Trumbull

Obiter Dicta

Finalists in 2007 Robert Benchley Humor Prize Competition

From nearly 100 entrants, Dave Barry has chosen the winners of the Third Annual Robert Benchley Humor Prize Competition and congratulates the four writers whose essays best exemplify the humor of Robert Benchley. The winners are:

First Place: Daniel Montville (Oak Park, Illinois) for "How to Write a Book"

Second Place: George Waters (Pasadena, California) for "T'ai Chi for Beginners," or "War and Peace"

Third Place: Ed Tasca (Toronto) for "Hello again, "Mr. Uh--!?"

Fourth Place: Jennifer Byrne (Glassboro, New Jersey) for "You Shouldn't Have (Really)"

The awards will be given at the Annual Banquet on Saturday, Oct. 6 (see below).

The fifth annual Robert Benchley Society Gathering and Award Ceremony will be held in New York City during the weekend of Oct. 5-7. The New York chapter, Fascinating Crimes, organizes the weekend. The RBS is again partnering with the Dorothy Parker Society, and taking part in the group's 9th annual Parkerfest. The schedule:

Friday, Oct. 5
6:00-8:00: Cocktail party, lobby, Algonquin Hotel. Come and meet the fellow members of the two groups.

Saturday, Oct. 6
11:00-1:00 p.m. Robert Benchley-Dorothy Parker Walking Tour. See more than 30 locations of the life of Benchley, Parker and the Vicious Circle. Special tribute to the 85th anniversary of The Treasurer's Report. Begin and end at the Algonquin. $15.

1:00 p.m. Lunch at the Round Table. Cash.

6:30 p.m. Robert Benchley-Dorothy Parker Banquet. Pete's Tavern. 2-hour cash bar, dinner. $50 per person. Must RSVP. Awards dinner and toasts at the 1864 bar.

10:00 p.m. Bathtub Gin Ball. The Bridge Café. 2-hour cash bar, live entertainment. Tickets TBD. Must RSVP. The party is in the oldest drinking establishment in New York, around since 1794.

All information (and how to RSVP), and photos from past events, is on the official Dorothy Parker web site.


In local chapter activities...

The "Fascinating Crimes" chapter (New York City) reports that Mr. Benchley is toasted every year, on the anniversary of his birth, at the 21 Club in Manhattan. Join us two days early, Sept. 13, at 7:00 at "21". On Friday afternoon, Sept. 14, we will pay a visit to the grave of the Amiable Child and visit Grant's Tomb. Meet at 3 p.m. at West 72nd Street Subway station (Verdi Square). Contact Kevin Fitzpatrick (

In Boston, the "We've Come for the Davenport" chapter of the RBS met on Saturday, June 23, at the home of Christopher Morgan to view the film "International House" (1933, Paramount). A good time was had by all and only minor injuries were reported. The owner of the dachshund has agreed not to press charges. Plans are underway to gather on or about Mr. Benchley's birthday (September 15) for an evening the memory of which will be forever lost in a gin-induced fog.

The "We Only Came to See if There Really is an Award" chapter in Longview, Washington, reports they meet from time to time, although no one can recall when.  Our last meeting included a Barbecue or perhaps simply a spot of "tea."  Pleasantly the dachshund owner has also agreed not to press charges against our chapter. -- Horace J. Digby, Chapter Secretary (rumor has it)

Ann Arbor's "A Moderate State of Preservation" chapter president Tom Saunders reports the Chapter has been so quiet as to be virtually invisible in the past months.  Aside from heavy drinking, to stay in training, the members have done little to further the aims of our tribe.  Yes, there have been two separate viewings of Mr. Benchley's movies and shorts at the Ypsilanti Public Library, the director of which is a member.  The outings were well attended.  And yes, members are doing something to advance the cause of "Nonsense for its own sake", with Las Angelus member Steve Altman doing a musical version of "The Time Machine" that seems to be going to Broadway in 2008.  Mr. Altman wrote the music and book and will be around in New York to be sure the correct amount of "Silliness" is kept in the final staging.

Bill Hyder, president of "The Lost Locomotive" chapter in the Washington, D.C. area, has located a lost radio script of a radio program called "Vic and Sade" from Saturday, November 26, 1932. It was written by humorist Paul Rhymer, and has a reference to Robert Benchley. You can listen to shows in their entirety here.

More information about the other local chapters can be found here.


A new book about Mr. Benchley's efforts for the Detroit Athletic Club News is in the works, by Thomas Saunders, shadowy president of the Ann Arbor chapter.  The book will be a reprint of all the works of Robert Benchley from 1921 till 1933 covering some 105 pieces.  It is scheduled to be issued in June 2008. Some of these pieces have never been published in any other form. The original illustrations will be included.
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