Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Robert Benchley Society Announces 2012 Humor Competition Winners

BOSTON, July 24, 2012 -- The Robert Benchley Society announces that comedian Arte Johnson has named, as First Place winner in the 2012 Robert Benchley Society Annual Humor Writing Competition, Tim French of Midway, Alabama, for his essay Who Says You Can't Dance? In honoring Mr. French, who is the only two-time First Place winner in the history of the competition, Mr. Johnson said:
"As a youngster I used to look forward to seeing the Benchley shorts. Somehow I always felt he looked like an avocado with clothing. Watching him act was a great joy and your essay forces him to do just that. I could just picture him demonstrating all of the dance styles, badly."
Mr. French won last year's competition as well, when humorist Mark Russell chose his essay The Old Man and the Leaf Blower.

Mr. Johnson awarded Second Place to Cathy Lennon of Park City, Utah, for How to Yawn, saying:
"You have found a subject that would be right down 'the Benchley Alley.' Taking the common and giving it an aura of importance was one of the great keys of Benchley humor. 'How to Yawn' as a subject matter with possible demonstrations would be well worth watching in the Benchley mode."

Coming in third was Jesse Levy of Burbank, Calif., for My Scotch Adventure. Johnson noted:
"Benchley would definitely attempt a Scotch accent and would fail dismally, but it would certainly be worth hearing. He certainly would try to make all of these brands exciting for the tasting if not for the hearing. Hopefully, he would wear the proper tartan for each and possibly model each for the camera."
This was Mr. Levy's second time in the top four. In 2008 his essay How to Watch a Sad Movie and Retain Your Manliness was ranked third by humorist Bob Newhart.

Carol Cherman of Los Angeles, Calif., takes the Fourth Place title for Cane Mutiny. Mr. Johnson said:
"The serious side of everyday life was something that Benchley understood, and what could be more serious than fly swatting? Your essay gives meaning to what is a technical side of insect removal. It certainly would be a Benchley subject, along with nose blowing."

Every year since 2005, the Robert Benchley Society has put on this humor-writing competition, which is open to all writers of English language humor. All judging is done blind, with the preliminary judges and final celebrity judge not knowing the names of the entrants. This means that amateurs and professional humorists compete equally. Watch our blog for an announcement of next year's competition.

Arte Johnson will give out the awards at this year's Annual Awards Dinner to be held in Los Angeles at the Ninth International Annual Gathering of the Robert Benchley Society. "As a youngster," said Johnson, "I could hardly wait for Benchley movie shorts when I went to the movies. After all, for 12 cents, who could be satisfied with just Flash Gordon, the news, and a double feature?"

We are currently working out the details of the October 12-14 Annual Gathering, but we can already promise that it'll be as packed with fun and features as a good old-fashioned Saturday at the talkies.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Dorothy Parker News

Schedule for Parkerfest

Parkerfest will have a more venues than in past years, as we kick off the events on the anniversary of Mrs. Parker's birth, August 22.

Parkerfest 2012 Schedule of Events

Wednesday, 8/22 7:00 PM: Dorothy Parker Birthday Party, The Shanty/NY Distilling Co. 79 Richardson St, Brooklyn

Thursday, 8/23 7:00 PM: That Dorothy Parker, Performed by Carol Lempert, The Arclight Theatre, 152 West 71st Street ($22)

Saturday, 8/25 12:00 PM: Dorothy Parker's Upper West Side Walking Tour, Riverside Drive & West 72nd Street ($20)

Saturday, 8/25 8:00 PM: Wit's End Summer Scandals Party featuring the Moonlighters, Flute, Midtown, 205 West 54th Street ($12)

All of the information is found online here.

West Coast Connection

The Los Angeles Chapter of the Dorothy Parker Society is holding two great events in July for all fans of Mrs. Parker and her friend F. Scott Fitzgerald. On July 22 is a free walking tour of Parker and Fitzgerald's local haunts; on July 23 at Musso & Frank Grill, 6667 Hollywood Boulevard, is "That Side of Paradise: Dorothy Parker & F. Scott Fitzgerald in the Garden of Allah," a dinner and talk with writers Adrienne Crew and David Kippen. Advance tickets are required for the dinner. Event info and tickets here.

"Mad Men" Actress to Attend Benchley Award Ceremony

Television actress Meghan Bradley, who has a recurring role on AMC's critically acclaimed popular cable television drama Mad Men, will be attending the Robert Benchley Society Annual Humor Awards Dinner on Saturday, October 13, 2012, in Los Angeles. Ms. Bradley plays Julia, a friend of Megan Draper, wife of Don Draper, and has also appeared with Hugh Laurie in the series House.
"Many of our Society members are also fans of Mad Men", said Society chairman, David Trumbull, speaking of the show, which is set in the tumultuous 1960s. "Growing up in the 1960s, I remember the serious issues of the times presented, with a humorous twist, every Monday evening, on Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In," continued Trumbull, who added, "I know we are all looking forward to this year's event, as the Robert Benchley Society Humor Awards presenter will be Laugh-In star Arte Johnson."

The Robert Benchley Society was founded in 2003 to promote interest in the work of Robert C. Benchley, American humorist (1889-1945). The Society has chapters in seven American cities and at-large members throughout North America, Europe, and Australia. The Los Angeles "Uncle Edith" Chapter takes its name from a recurring character in Mr. Benchley's essays and is headed up by humor writer Barb Best. Robert Benchley was a writer, a founder of the Algonquin Round Table of wits, and a radio, motion picture, and television actor. His 1935 picture How to Sleep won an Academy Award.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Benchley in Worcester

On Thursday, June 28th, Robert C. Benchley returned to his native Worcester, Massachsetts, for an evening at the Worcester Historical Museum. The program by American Classic Theater featured readings and dramatic presentations of works by Worcester natives Robert C. Benchley, S.N. Behrman, and Elizabeth Bishop. The highlights of the evening were dramatic recitations of "The Treasurer's Report" and "Swing Music" by guest artist Nat Benchley, grandson of Robert Benchley.

Other performers under the direction of James B. Nicola were Barbara Guertin, Rob Lynds, Anna Marie Shea, and Derek Sylvester. The program included an excerpt from S.N. Behrman's Biography and several shorter pieces by Behrman, Bishop, and such authors as Charles Olson, Frank O'Hara, and Stanley Kunitz. Robert Benchley's friend and Round Tabler Dorothy Parker was represented by readings of "Two-Volume Novel," "One Perfect Rose," and "Resume." Readings of Mr. Benchley's "Rules and Suggestions for Watching Auction Bridge," "How to Watch a Chess Match," and "Watching Baseball" kept the audience laughing.

Other dates in the series are Thursday, July 26th and Thursday, August 23rd. Robert Benchley's grandson, Nat Benchley, creator of the one-man show "Benchley Despite Himself," will be participating on all three dates.

Attending from the Boston "We've Come for the Davenport" Chapter of the Robert Benchley Society were Andrea Cormier, Christopher Morgan, and David and Mary Trumbull.

American Classic Theater is a non-profit theatre troupe dedicated to the presentation, promotion, and celebration of American plays, playwrights and the American experience.

The Worcester Historical Museum, founded in 1875, is the only organization solely dedicated to the collection, preservation, and interpretation of Worcester's unique history from all time periods and subject areas.

Robert Benchley Society

For more information about the Robert Benchley Society, local chapters near you, our annual Award for Humor, and our Annual Gathering, visit The RBS Website