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2020 Workshop


The Oct. 29-31 Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop is going virtual! Register here.

The registration fee is $199 with free scholarships available for University of Dayton students, courtesy of the Alumni Association. The registration fee includes much hilarity, learning and a bonus — you can attend in your pajamas. View or download the program.

The 2020 workshop, in its 20th anniversary year, will feature Emmy Award winners, celebrated authors and comedians. A special feature: celebrated New Yorker cartoonist and former EBWW keynoter Liza Donnelly will live draw the keynote speakers and post her drawings in real time on social media.

Here's the line-up of keynote speakers:

Annabelle Gurwitch, New York Times' bestselling author of four books, actress, essayist and storyteller. She was a finalist for the Thurber Prize for American Humor Writing in 2015. The original co-host for Dinner and a Movie on TBS, she has appeared in numerous television and film projects.

Wendy Liebman, stand-up comedian who has performed on late-night shows - from Carson to Kimmel - and appeared in comedy specials on HBO, Comedy Central and Showtime. She was a semifinalist on America's Got Talent.

Mike Reiss, Emmy Award-winning writer for The Simpsons and author of Springfield Confidential: Jokes, Secrets, and Outright Lies from a Lifetime Writing for The Simpsons and 17 children's books.

Peggy Rowe, author of two New York Times’  best-sellers, About My Mother: True Stories of a Horse-Crazy Daughter and Her Baseball-Obsessed Mother and About Your Father and Other Celebrities I Have Known — both penned after she turned 80. A social media sensation, she counts more than 140,000 readers of her daily Facebook postings. Her letters and texts to her celebrity son, Mike Rowe, have reached millions. Best known as the “dirtiest man on TV,” a title he earned on the hit TV series Dirty Jobs, Mike can now be found on Facebook’s groundbreaking series Returning the Favor, where he searches for remarkable people making a difference in their communities and helps give back to those who pay it forward with humor, heart and surprise.

Sophfronia Scott, award-winning novelist, journalist and essayist who’s been hailed by historian Henry Louis Gates, Jr. as “potentially one of the best writers of her generation.” She’s the founding director of Alma College’s new low residency MFA in Creative Writing program.

Read more about all of the 2020 keynoters and faculty, as well as the workshop sessions

The Bombeck Workshop is the only one in the country devoted to both humor and human interest writing. Through the workshop, the University of Dayton and the Bombeck family honor one of America’s most celebrated storytellers and humorists. Over the past decade, the workshop has attracted such household names as Dave Barry, Phil Donahue, Art Buchwald, Nancy Cartwright, Don Novello, Gail Collins, Connie Schultz, Roy Blount Jr., Adriana Trigiani, Amy Ephron, Liza Donnelly and Alan Zweibel. In 2019, The Writer magazine named the workshop the best writing conference in Ohio and “THE conference for humor writers.” Immensely popular, it attracts writers from all over the nation and beyond.

The workshop will kick off Thursday night with Patricia Wynn Brown’s fireside chat with keynoters Mike and Peggy Rowe; feature an attendee stand-up comedy show on Friday evening hosted by Brian Kiley, head monologue writer for Conan O’Brien; and finish with a flourish with the ever-popular Pitchapalooza on Saturday afternoon. In all, the workshop will feature 30 professional writers and teachers on the faculty, who will offer sessions on the craft of writing, turning an interest into a profession, writing humor, marketing, publishing and more.

Even in a virtual setting, we’ll offer opportunities for comparing notes and networking.

The atmosphere is very supportive to both new and established writers looking for the kind of inspiration Erma received from University of Dayton professor Brother Tom Price: “You can write!”

And you’re guaranteed to laugh. A lot.


Erma Bombeck Writers' Workshop