My love asked whatever happened to the Robert Benchley Humor Writing Contest. It’s a good question. I hadn’t heard anything about it and wondered what happened. It happens they just made an announcement:
No Benchley Humor Writing Competition this Year
I regret to inform you that the Robert Benchley Society Annual Humor Writing Competition will not be held in 2016. Watch this blog for further announcements about Society activities.
This is way too much effort to make to find a way not to give me the award. Guys, I can take rejection. It’s all right. I don’t look to you as a way to get my feelings hurt. I just enter the contest for the sport of it. I’ve got people I’d been intimate with for years to hurt my feelings when I need to feel hurt.
I’m not among them, which is a pity for me. Also I never managed to find the finalists list, so I don’t know how close I came to amusing final judge Mark Russell with a piece based on that bread-throwing ghost from Plaisto, London. (The piece was shrunk to 500 words, per the submission guidelines, which required a complete rewrite, which made for an interesting writing exercise. I’m not sure which I like better. The shorter has a punchiness I like, even though I enjoy the longer’s rambling.)
Anyway, I’m sad, but I’ll recover, I suppose. And there’ll be other things for me to write about or contests to enter, I tell myself. Send doughnuts. Congratulations to the winners, none of whom are me.
The Robert Benchley Society’s got its 2014 Humor Prize Competition entries collected, available for the reading, with all entries anonymized. I’ve got an entry in there (I won’t tell you which), which is actually a complete rewrite of one of the longer-form Friday pieces that I’d recently posted. (The Friday pieces aim for being 700 to 800 words, while the contest wanted no more than 500 words, and just trimming it down wasn’t going to work.) I like to think the piece got rather better in the complete rewrite, which does carry some implications for the stuff I post around here, but I’m trying not to think about that too much.
I defer to maybe like four hundred people in my appreciation for Robert Benchley, although most of them aren’t people I know personally. Among my acquaintances I’m in the top six, definitely. Anyway, the Robert Benchley Society has opened up its 2014 Humor Writing Competition, to be judged this year by Mark Russell. It’s for an original “Benchleyesque” essay, not more than 500 words long, wide, or high, and has to be delivered to them (along with a $14 entry fee) by the 15th of September. Past winners of the award do not include me, although I reached the finalist stage a couple years back.
I missed the announcement of it, but the Robert Benchley Society has announced its finalists for the 2013 Humor Writing Competition. Since the ten finalists were announced back on the 9th of October that pretty well says where I placed: no higher than 11th. I’m disappointed, obviously, but if I weren’t basically quite confident in the stuff that I write I wouldn’t go on writing it.
There’s no accounting for taste, obviously, especially someone else’s. I imagine one thing which went wrong was that I submitted a trimmed-down version of “Giants of the Colonial Era” — a piece I think has a lot of that Benchley patter — in order to meet the 500-word limit, and the cutting out of something like 250 words from the original drained much of the writing’s flow. I might have done better to throw out all the words and rewrite it from scratch instead.
Well, on to more writing and waiting to see when Finley Peter Dunne Society gets around to its humor contest.
(Also, do take the chance to read the finalists as there’s an excellent chance you’ll like at least one of them, and it’s not as if you have enough things that you like in your day.)
The Post Office had a nice, big sign in the glass of the front door, which is useful as it keeps people from being scared by their views in or out of the front door through. The poster warns: “If it costs $250 to collect your prize it’s probably a scam.”
It’s the “probably” that gets me. Someone with the Post Office No Scam Bureau looked over the records and found, yeah, these first 88 money-for-prizes deals were frauds, but then here came two ones where they legitimately turned the prizes over, and the copy went from “it’s a scam” to “it’s probably a scam”.
Also, boy, you have to figure the guy running the cash-for-prizes scam who was charging just $247.85 was looking at those posters and thinking, “Whew! Under the wire! Nobody’s going to suspect me yet!”
I have got a submission figured out, if you were worried, although I’m open to suggestions if you, the reader at wherever it is you are, have an essay I’ve written in mind as something particularly Benchleyesque and at least editable down to below 502 words. (At least in past years it was fine if the piece wasn’t new-composed for the contest, as long as it was original to the submitter, which is why I won’t be entering my essay about reading Benchley’s famous essay about quoting him.) And if you want to enter your own piece against me, well, I’m not going to say anything directly but you’ll be getting such a disapproving glare from our pet rabbit.
I’d entered the 2008 contest (final judge that year, Bob Newhart, to my delight — whatever else might happen in my life, Bob Newhart read something I wrote with the intention of being funny), but only reached the finalist stage. I’ve meant to enter in years since, but kept missing the announcements of the contest, and I don’t want that sort of disappointment to happen to other folks if I can help it.