Just to give you an idea of what you can expect, last year’s theme was “A Capitol Idea.”
“Born on the Isle of Wight, September 15,1807, shipped as cabin boy on the Florence J. Marble in 1815, wrote Tale of Two Cities in 1820, married Princess Anastasie of Portugal in 1831 (children: Prince Rupprecht and several little girls) and was buried in Westminster Abbey in 1871.” ~ Mr. Robert Benchley, an autobiographical sketch in his famous “dementia praecox” style."As we reflected on the above biography at the RBS 2011 Annual Gathering and Humor Awards Dinner," said Society director Rose Valenta, "the dementia praecox process was greatly enhanced by several martini toasts that kicked-off this fantastic Eighth Annual Gathering."
The 2011 event was held in Washington, D.C. The highlight of the festivities was Saturday night at the University Club, where political humorist Mark Russell presented the 2011 Robert Benchley Award for Humor to Tim French of Midway, Alabama, for his Benchleyesque offering, “The Old Man and the Leaf Blower.” Mark greeted all of our attendees personally over cocktails before dinner and after dinner dazzled us with a private performance of his famed humor routine.
Russell, who is famous for his political satire, became even more popular in 1990, shortly after the execution of Romanian dictator, Nicolae Ceauşescu, when he did a parody song on his PBS show to the tune of "Chattanooga Choo-Choo,” It went like this: "Pardon me, boys, are you the cats who shot Ceauşescu? You made my day, the way you blew him away."
He entertained us all night at the Club with quips like “Congress wanted to commemorate the holiday Cinco de Mayo, but they couldn’t agree on a date” and “The trick now is figuring out how many guys from Penn State will end up in the State Penn.”
He is truly a remarkable comedian, and most of us felt that he prepared and executed his comical material for us, as if he was headlining in front of a global audience.
After Mark's performance, Matthew Hahn treated us to a private screening of his short film, "The Ten Thousand-Dollar Martini," a comedic "send up" of the Algonquin Hotel's "Martini on the Rock," which contains an actual engagement diamond.
In addition to the Awards Dinner, 2011 attendees enjoyed several events chosen for their appeal to fans of witty humor. On Friday night we dined at the round table in the "Pope" room at Buca di Beppo, where everyone enjoyed a five-course dinner and delightful entertainment. The highlight of the evening was an unofficial still photo caption writing competition wherein participants were asked to write captions to still photos from the Mexican "soap opera" called "La Fea Mas Bella." Contest winners were Jean Keleher and Matthew Hahn, both of the Washington, D.C. "Lost Locomotive" Chapter, Tim French of Midway, Alabama, and Christine McCarthy of the Boston, Mass. "We've Come for the Davenport" Chapter.
On Saturday morning, our group gathered for a trip to the Library of Congress “Hope for America” exhibit that allowed us to examine artifacts and get a glimpse of the cultural evolution of American politics and entertainment. Details of the exhibit can be found at http://myloc.gov/exhibitions/hopeforamerica/Pages/default.aspx.
We lunched at Sam’s Deli and News Stand on 15th Street NW. The food was delicious and the ambiance of the restaurant resembled a busy news room, quite fitting for the prolific Benchley fans in attendance from RBS Chapters in Boston, Mass., Philadelphia, Penn., Los Angeles, Calif., and Washington, D.C. The guest list also included members Bob and Mary Haught from the National Society of Newspaper Columnists ("NSNC") and Barb Best, from the Los Angeles "Uncle Edith" Chapter and winner of the 2010 Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop Award for Global Humor.
Rose said, "Mary Trumbull and I left our group to take a quick tour of the new Martin Luther King Memorial before returning to the Club. We were so impressed by the memorial that we stayed and took photos to post for everyone's enjoyment. The official photographer for the entire weekend was Chris Morgan of Boston and he did a phenomenal job."
"I had a thoroughly enjoyable time at this event and loved reading the Benchleyesque offerings for the 2012 humor writing competition. I am champing at the bit to attend the next Annual Gathering, October 12th through 14th, in Los Angeles."