What is the Erma Bombeck | Anna Lefler Humorist-in-Residence Program?

The Erma Bombeck | Anna Lefler Humorist-in-Residence Program is the only one of its kind: a writing residency specifically for emerging humor writers.

Is it open to all genders and creative voices?

Absolutely. Applications are open to virtually all aspiring humor writers regardless of gender, comedic point of view, or other qualifier. While Erma Bombeck is the inspiration for the program, applicants are not expected to emulate her comedic voice or point of view. You do you.

To keep things fair, however, the following are not eligible to apply: Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop employees and volunteers; contest judges and their families; former grand prize winners; and workshop keynoters and speakers for the current year. Also, you must be 21 to enter, and preference will be given to emerging writers.

What does “emerging writer” mean? Can I apply if I’m already published or otherwise professional?

The premise of the program is to give a creative “boost” to writers who do not yet have the benefit of a milestone achievement such as a traditional book deal, a sold script, etc. The application process is open to all, with the understanding that judges will be keeping this premise in mind throughout the selection process.

So if I am selected as a Humorist-in-Residence, my travel expenses will be paid from anywhere in the world?

The program is able to pay travel expenses from any location within the United States and its territories, and Canada.

What is the deadline to apply? Can I mail in my application?

Applications will be accepted Sept. 5-Oct. 5, 2023. The deadline is midnight (EST) on Thursday, Oct. 5. We accept only online applications.

How do I apply?

Fill out an application online. Please note that the application does not require a new piece of writing. You will answer a few short questions, including your best elevator pitch for your writing project, and upload a writing sample of no more than 1,250 words.

Why is there a fee to apply for the program?

The $25 application fee helps offset the administrative costs of the program and provides operating funds for the workshop.

What kinds/categories of comedy-writing are eligible for submission?

Virtually any kind, including comedic novels and plays, essays and sitcom scripts. Just keep the 1,250 word limit in mind and, if necessary, select a portion of your long-form work that best showcases your talents.

What are the dates of the residency?

The residency runs April 4-18, 2024, which includes the three-day Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop.

How will the two humorists-in-residence be selected?

Preliminary judges — authors, columnists and comedy writers — will assess the applications based on the power and potential of the idea. Strong consideration will be given to the persuasiveness of the pitch and humor of the writing sample. Preference will be given to emerging writers. Winners will be judged by averaging scores assigned by judges to each entry. Besides the two grand prize winners, a select number of finalists and honorable mentions will win cash prizes ($250 and $100).

Finalist judges — nationally known humorists — will select the two winners from the finalist pool, using the same criteria.

When will the winners be announced?

The winners will be announced in November via an announcement on this website, news release, e-newsletter, social media and other promotional channels.

How will the winners be notified?

The winners will be notified by email and telephone prior to the public announcement.

May I submit multiple applications?

We ask that you submit a single application that pitches a single comedy project.

May I submit more than one writing sample as long as I don’t go over the word limit?

To make it easier for the judges, we prefer just one sample.

Do my application and writing sample need to be in English?

Yes, please.

May I bring someone with me during the residency? Spouse? Friend? Pet?

Unfortunately, no, because that runs counter to the purpose of the residency, which is to offer writers “the gift of time” to work in uninterrupted solitude on their writing project. (The Marriott at the University of Dayton does not allow your Schnauzer or any other pets.)

What if I can’t stay the entire two weeks? May I be the Humorist-in-Residence for a portion of the time?

We ask that applicants ensure ahead of time that they will be able to take advantage of the entire two weeks of the workshop and residency. If a chosen applicant is unable to commit to this length of stay, consideration may be given to selecting an alternate Humorist-in-Residence who is able to enjoy the full term.

Why can’t my writing sample be a link to a piece that I published online?

Since applications will be judged blindly to ensure fairness, we require that any reference to your name, organization, blog or website not be included on the writing sample.

Is the program really all-expenses paid?

Yes! Well, within limits. We’ll provide a complimentary registration to the April 4-6, 2024, Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop and cover travel (within the U.S. and Canada), hotel stay, and a stipend for rental car or Uber expenses and meals during the residency. And, yes, you can order room service.

Will there be Humorist-in-Residence activities during the residency — aside from writing time?

Yes. You will be introduced and honored during the April 4-6, 2024, Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop. If class schedules permit, we will arrange for the two winners to meet or talk with at least one University of Dayton class about any range of topics, from the writing process to finding your voice as a writer.

Does this replace the Erma Bombeck Writing Competition?

No, they are completely separate activities. The writing contest continues, as hugely popular as ever! 

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What if I have other questions not listed here?

Please email us at:
[email protected]