THURBER PRIZE FOR AMERICAN HUMOR
The Thurber Prize for American Humor is the highest recognition of the art of humor writing in the United States. A panel of national judges selects the three finalists from seven or eight semi-finalists. The three finalists are required to attend the awards ceremony in Columbus, Ohio. The Prize returns to Columbus after several years in New York City. Guests will be entertained during a spectacular evening of humor culminating with the announcement of the 2018 winner of The Thurber Prize for American Humor. The winner receives $5,000 and a commemorative plaque.
THURBER HOUSE IS PLEASED TO ANNOUNCE THE SEMI-FINALISTS FOR THE 2018 THURBER PRIZE:
Longtime humorist and performer Jenny Allen’s musings range fluidly from the personal to the philosophical. One moment she’s flirting shamelessly―and unsuccessfully―with a younger man at a wedding; the next she’s stumbling upon X-rated images on her daughter’s computer. She ponders the connection between her ex-husband’s questions about the location of their silverware, and the divorce that came a year later. While undergoing chemotherapy, she experiments with being a "wig person."
If you’ve ever suffered through a Seder, you’re well aware of the fact that the entire evening can last as long as the exodus from Egypt itself. There are countless stories, dozens of blessings, and far too many handwashings while the meal turns cold. With this hilarious parody Haggadah, good Jews everywhere will no longer have to sit (and sleep) through a lengthy and boring Seder. Experience every step of the Seder in a new light, from getting rid of all the chametz in your home by setting it on fire with a kosher blowtorch to a retelling of the Passover story starring Pharaoh Schmuck and a burning bush that sounds kind of like Morgan Freeman.
Kristen Hansen Brakeman's essays address a diverse range of topics, from the author hating being called "Ma'am" (and proposing a wonderful alternative), to accidentally teaching her seven year old daughter to swear; from discovering the perils of shopping in the loud and stinky Hollister store, to being scolded by a Very Important Singer. The journal entries emphasize the cyclical nature of life, and trace the author's bumpy transformation from chronic planner to one who discovers the joy of living in the moment before she runs out of moments.
In 2016, John Hodgman's career as a bestselling author and as a contributor on The Daily Show With Jon Stewart didn’t seem as funny to him anymore. Realizing that he is an older white male monster with bad facial hair, he is wandering like a privileged Sasquatch through three wildernesses: the hills of Western Massachusetts from his youth, the painful beaches of Maine that want to kill him, and the haunted forest of middle age that connects them. Vacationland is a wildly funny yet poignant account of one human facing his forties, when men must settle into the failing bodies of the wise, weird dads that they are. In Vacationland, you learn of the horror of freshwater clams, the evolutionary purpose of the mustache, and which animals to keep as pets and which to kill with traps and poison.
In 2011, David Litt became one of the youngest White House speechwriters in history and go-to comedy writer for President Obama. With a humorist's eye for detail, Litt brings us inside Obamaworld. He describes what it’s like to accidentally trigger an international incident or nearly set a president’s hair aflame. He answers questions like: Which White House men’s room is the classiest? What do you do when the commander in chief gets your name wrong? Where should you never change clothes on Air Force One? Full of hilarious stories and told in a truly original voice, Thanks, Obama is about what it means—personally, professionally, and politically—to grow up.
Father Greg Lockwood is unlike any Catholic priest you have ever met—a man who lounges in boxer shorts, loves action movies, and whose constant jamming on the guitar reverberates "like a whole band dying in a plane crash in 1972." His daughter Patricia's childhood involved such memories as an ill-fated family hunting trip, an abortion clinic sit-in where her father was arrested, and her involvement in a cultlike Catholic youth group. As an adult, she's an irreverent poet who long ago left the church’s country. When an unexpected crisis leads her and her husband to move back into her parents’ rectory, her past and present collide. Lockwood pivots from the comic to the deeply serious, exploring the balance of a hard-won identity with the weight of family and tradition.
Hazel has just moved into a trailer park with her father and Diane, his extremely lifelike sex doll. She’s just left her husband, Byron Gogol, CEO and founder of Gogol Industries, a corporation hell-bent on making its technologies indispensable in daily life. For over a decade, Hazel was quarantined by Byron in the family compound, her every movement and vital sign tracked. But when Byron demands to connect the two of them via brain chips in a first-ever human "mind-meld," Hazel has had enough. As she tries to carve out a new life for herself, Byron threatens to find her using the most sophisticated tools at his disposal, and Hazel is forced to take drastic measures to free herself from his clutches.
"Is there a secret to happiness?" asks comedian Paula Poundstone. "Where could it be? Can you buy it? Does it melt at a certain temperature? Must you suffer for it before or after?" In her wild book, the comedy legend undertakes a series of unscientific experiments in search of happiness. This includes taekwondo lessons, becoming tech savvy, communing with nature, and driving a Lamborghini. This, while she cares for three adopted children, cats, a dog, a lizard, and a bunny. Swing dancing? Meditation? Volunteering? Does any of it bring her happiness? You may be laughing too hard to care.
JUDGES FOR THE 2018 THURBER PRIZE
Harrison Scott Key, winner of the 2016 Thurber Prize for his book, The World's Largest Man.
Mary Norris, 2016 Thurber Prize finalist for her book, You & Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen.
Laurie Notaro, 2009 Thurber Prize finalist for her book, The Idiot Girl and the Flaming Tantrum of Death.
PAST THURBER PRIZE WINNERS
The Thurber Prize for American Humor is made possible by the Greater Columbus Arts Council
and an anonymous family fund of The Columbus Foundation.