Ay Caramba!

Posted Aug 13, 2021

Nancy Cartwright, best known as the voice of Bart Simpson, and Mike Reiss, writer for The Simpsons for three decades, will select two humor writers for a fun, unconventional writing residency that promises winners the gift of time to hole up in a hotel, write — and order free room service.

The Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop is offering two emerging writers the opportunity to dive into their comedy writing for two uninterrupted weeks at the University of Dayton Marriott Hotel along the Great Miami River, dubbed the “Dayton Riviera.”

Applications will be accepted Sept. 7-28 for A Hotel Room of One’s Own: The Erma Bombeck | Anna Lefler Humorist-in-Residence Program, what Forbes says “may be the best writer’s residency in the country.” The winners will be announced in mid-November and honored at the March 24-26 workshop, where they will be presented with plush, custom-embroidered bathrobes to kick off their residency. The package is worth approximately $5,000, but the experience is priceless.

About the Finalist Judges

For over three decades, Nancy Cartwright has given voice to a spikey-headed-10-year-old boy even though she’s a grown woman; she’s often been arrested for truancy and vandalism, yet she maintains a spotless criminal record; and finally, she’s repeated the fourth-grade dozens of times in spite of earning her college degree. As the voice of Bart Simpson, she literally breathed life into one the most groundbreaking characters in entertainment history. But she is also responsible for an array of other characters on The Simpsons, making her a versatile performer who’s proved invaluable to the longest-running scripted show of all time.

For her portrayal of Bart Simpson, she won an Emmy for Outstanding Voiceover Performance, and her audio book, My Life as a 10-Year-Old Boy, was nominated for the prestigious Audie Award. A new edition of the audio book will be released this year.  

Not that her career begins and ends in the fictional town of Springfield; Cartwright has lent her voice to a myriad of other animated touchstones, from Kim Possible to Rugrats, as well as live-action films, video games, radio and commercials. Under her production company, Spotted Cow Entertainment, she served as executive producer and co-wrote the feature film In Search of Fellini. She’s also involved numerous philanthropic endeavors, including her own non-profit, Know More About Drugs —an educational website that gives parents FDA-approved information about potential side effects of prescribed opioids (painkillers) and psychotropic (mind-altering) drugs. Armed with these facts, parents can have an educated, informed conversation with their child’s doctor.

Veteran Simpsons writer Mike Reiss has won four Emmys and two Peabody Awards for his work on the satirical animated series. He ran the show in season four, which Entertainment Weekly called “the greatest season of the greatest show in history.” In 2006, he received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Animation Writers Caucus of the Writers Guild of America West.

He has written 20 children’s books as well as the best-selling memoir Springfield Confidential: Jokes, Secrets, and Outright Lies from a Lifetime Writing for The Simpsons. In addition, Reiss has written jokes for Johnny Carson, Joan Rivers, Garry Shandling and Pope Francis. For his comedic contributions to the charitable group Joke with the Pope, Pope Francis in 2015 declared Mike a Missionary of Joy.

He co-created the animated series The Critic and created Showtime’s hit cartoon Queer Duck (about a gay duck), which BBC named one of the 100 Greatest Cartoons of All Time. Queer Duck: The Movie was released in July 2006, winning awards in New York, Chicago, San Diego, Sweden, Germany and Wales. In all, he has been a contributing writer to more than two dozen animated films, including Ice Age, Despicable Me, The Lorax, Rio, Kung Fu Panda 3 and The Simpsons Movie. 

Reiss is a former president of The Harvard Lampoon and editor of National Lampoon. His latest creative endeavor is a “reasonably true” podcast, What Am I Doing Here?

Cartwright and Reiss have strong ties to the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop, which they both keynoted. In addition, Cartwright, who grew up in Erma’s hometown, served as a final round judge for the Erma Bombeck Writing Competition in 2016.

Launched in 2017 with generous funding from humorist and writer Anna Lefler, “A Hotel Room of One’s Own” attracts hundreds of applications worldwide from writers working on comedic novels, narrative non-fiction, plays, essays, sitcom scripts and other humor-writing projects. A panel of established writers will blind judge the entries and narrow the field to 10 finalists. Cartwright and Reiss will then select two grand prize winners as well as finalists and honorable mentions.

For more information about the program, click here. The biennial Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop, believed to be the only conference in the country devoted to both humor and human interest writing, is enormously popular and typically sells out within hours. The Writer magazine named it the best writing conference in Ohio and “THE conference for humor writers.” Registration for the March 24-26, 2022, workshop will open in December.