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No joke: Dave Barry to serve as finalist judge in Bombeck Writing Competition

Want a shot at having your humorous musings judged by someone who’s a master at writing funny?

Pulitizer Prize-winning humorist Dave Barry will serve as the finalist judge in the humor writing category of the 2018 Erma Bombeck Writing Competition, according to Debe Dockins, coordinator of the competition at the Washington-Centerville Public Library.

“Inviting writers to judge the Erma contest has become a science for me — who can turn a phrase just so? Does this judge’s writing style remind me of Erma? Is it funny, is it kind?” Dockins said. “I spend a lot of time reading humor and short stories and, over the years, Dave Barry has been sitting at the top of my Wish List for Judges (yes, I really have one).

“I am so excited for the contest, very honored for the opportunity to work with Dave Barry and thrilled for the writers whose essays will make it to the final round,” she said.

Barry has written more than 30 books, including the novels Big Trouble, Lunatics, Tricky Business and, most recently, Insane City. He has also written a number of books with titles like Best. State. Ever.: A Florida Man Defends His Homeland, which, he quips, “are technically classified as nonfiction, although they contain numerous lies.” In 2006, he served as the opening night keynote speaker at the University of Dayton’s Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop.

The writing competition, held every two years in conjunction with the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop, pays tribute to hometown writer Erma Bombeck, one of the greatest humorists of the 20th century. The next contest opens Dec. 4, with previously unpublished 450-word entries in humor and human interest categories accepted until Jan. 3.

Four winners will receive $500 and a free registration to the Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop, slated for April 5-7, 2018.

In 2016, 563 writers from around the world entered essays — roughly 253,350 words.

Nancy Cartwright, the voice of Bart Simpson, and Daryn Kagan, syndicated columnist and former CNN anchor, served as the finalist judges for the humor and human interest categories, respectively. The nearly 50 preliminary judges included nationally known authors, columnists, screenwriters, stand-up comedians and a longtime writer for David Letterman.

— Teri Rizvi

Teri Rizvi is the founder of the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop at the University of Dayton, where she serves as executive director of strategic communications. (Photo credit: Daniel Portnoy Photography)

Reflections of Erma