3 Women Make Thurber Prize History

The 2015 nominees are Roz Chast, Annabelle Gurwitch and Julie Schumacher.

RozChastMemoirCoverLater this month at Caroline’s Comedy Club on Broadway, an extremely noteworthy presentation will be made by Henry Alford. For the first time, a female writer will claim the Thurber Prize for American Humor.

Adding oomph to the proceedings in this, the year of Amy Schumer, is the fact that all three finalists are women. That has also never happened before. Nominated for the 2015 prize are:

– New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast, for her memoir Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?;

– Los Angeles-based actress, author and writer Annabelle Gurwitch, for I See You Made an Effort: Compliments, Indignities, and Survival Stories from the Edge of 50;

– Novelist and Department of English faculty member at the University of Minnesota Julie Schumacher, for Dear Committee Members.

In a recent conversation with George Carlin’s daughter Kelly about her one-woman show and new book about growing up with a famous father, LA Times columnist Patt Morrison brought up the history-making Thurber trio and comments by the late Christopher Hitchens that women aren’t funny. Carlin’s response:

“That’s gotten more ridiculous: My heroes were always women. Lucille Ball, Carol Burnett, Lily Tomlin — those three lifted me up as a child. Watching Saturday Night Live, of course Bill Murray was funny, but who fascinated me? Laraine Newman and Gilda Radner.”

“It’s an incredible time for women in comedy right now. Tig Notaro and Amy Schumer inspire me, and they’re 20 years younger.”

Iranian-American writer Firoozeh Dumas was the first female Thurber nominee, in 2005, for Funny in Farsi. Others have included Merrill Markoe (2007), Laurie Notaro (2009) and Liza Donnelly (2014).

The 2015 prize will be presented Sept. 28.
[Jacket cover courtesy: Bloomsbury USA]

Update (September 28):
The winner of the $5,000 cash prize and plaque is Schumacher. Congrats!