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Free Laughs

The University of Dayton’s Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop is offering two free events in October, but advance registration is required.

Betsy Bombeck, daughter of the legendary columnist, will keynote the virtual Erma Bombeck Writing Competition Awards Ceremony at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 8. Register here.

Plenty of laughs as well as serious stand-up advice from three popular comics are on tap at Erma’s Got Talent: The Stand-Up Auditions from 7-9 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 14. Register here.

The awards ceremony will feature the four winning writers reading their essays from the humor and human interest categories of a contest sponsored by the Washington-Centerville Public Library.

In 2020, 559 writers from 10 countries, 48 states and the District of Columbia entered previously unpublished essays — roughly 251,550 words. The four winners, selected by finalist judges Bill Bryson and Jess Montgomery, received free registrations to the Oct. 29-31 virtual Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop, $1,000 and publication of their essays online and in the workshop’s program. Read the winning essays here.

Erma’s Got Talent, loosely fashioned along the lines of America’s Got Talent, will offer 12 randomly selected participants the opportunity to perform two minutes of their original stand-up material in front of three celebrity judges — acclaimed comedians Brian Kiley, Wendy Liebman and Leighann Lord. Nancy Berk, host of the podcast “Entertaining Insights,” will serve as emcee.

Entertaining and educational, Erma's Got Talent is an instructional opportunity for participants as well as the audience. The judges will highlight the strengths and weaknesses of performance and material as well as offer expert suggestions.

While anyone can be part of the audience, only those registered for the upcoming workshop are eligible to perform. Attendees were sent an email inviting them to apply for an audition slot by Oct. 1.

The winning contestant and runners up will perform on the virtual stage on Attendee Stand-Up Comedy Night at 9 p.m., Friday, Oct. 30. Other performers for that evening will be selected randomly after the auditions. Emmy Award-winning writer Brian Kiley, head monologue writer for Conan O’Brien, will host the evening.

It’s not too late register for the Oct. 29-31 Erma Bombeck Writers' Workshop, which will feature Emmy Award winners, celebrated authors and humorists. The cost is $199 with the opportunity to laugh and be inspired by six keynote speakers and participate in 25 sessions, Stand-Up Comedy Night and Pitchapalooza, billed as “American Idol for books, only kinder.”  Register here.

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