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April/May 2010 Humor Writing Contest Results!

Enter "America's Funniest Humor"TM Writing Contest to claim (or regain) a spot in our next Humor Showcase!



Congratulations to all Honorable Mentions in our April/May 2010 Humor Writing Contest!

(Listed alphabetically by author

The 2010 Claxton Census
By Deb Claxton, Wisconsin

Americans across the country are currently filling out their 2010 Census forms, however, most people probably don’t realize that there is another equally important census form that needs to be filled out: The Claxton Census. This census needs to be completed by all single men living in the United States between the ages of 40 and 70.

Here is a copy of the Claxton Census, which can be printed, filled out and mailed in. All answers will be kept confidential.

If you don’t fill out a form, you may find a large, irate woman knocking on your door.

Telephone number:

1. Where do you live?
__I own my own mansion with a built in pool.
__I rent my own luxury apartment.
__I live in a ramshackle cabin in the woods with no indoor plumbing.
__I live in my mother’s basement.

2. What is your occupation?
__I’m business tycoon.
__Male underwear model.
__I volunteer in a slaughter house.
__Unemployed and living with my mother.

3. What is your status?
__Widowed after my five wives mysteriously took ill and died.
__Divorced because I have a sex addiction.
__Single because I’ve been searching all my life for a tall, full figured woman who’s intelligent and has a great sense of humor.
__Single, and living with my mother.

4. When you go out in public, what do people say about you?
__Aren’t you Tom Selleck?
__I thought Ted Kaczinski was still in prison?
__I didn’t know ZZ Top had a concert in town?
__Get the camera, I think I just saw Big Foot?

5. What is your yearly income?
__$80,000 or more.
__Whatever I make from selling blood.
__Whatever tips I make as a Chippendale dancer.
__My mother gives me an allowance.

6. What kind of woman are your looking for?
__A Playboy Bunny clone.
__A strong, independent woman.
__A woman that doesn’t speak English.
__All women scare me.
__A woman just like my mother.

Men, please fill out the census and return it as soon as possible.

© Copyright by author, used with permission by Humor Press. No unauthorized reproduction or redistribution is allowed.

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Sleep Talk of Purple Pigs and Peaches Wakes Up the Fun
By Burton Cole, Ohio

Have you ever started awake, looked your partner in the eye and yelled, “Choose the purple one or the pig won’t take the right trail!”

In the moment you yelled it, it made perfect sense. It was of vital importance, and she HAD to know!

But a half second later, as the sleep fog dissipates from around your brain, you haven’t the faintest idea why.

Now she’s staring at you from three or four steps further away, a wild look in her eyes as she calculates the distance to the broomstick and gasps, “Don’t let it trample the elephant canning the peaches!”

It turns out she had been dozing, too.

Or maybe your house isn’t as interesting as ours.

It’s because of this phenomenon that the two most interesting times to start a conversation with someone is right before she falls asleep or just before she’s fully awake. It’s mostly gibberish and nonsense, but usually no less strange than the world at large generally is – just more fun.

I’ve been known to prime the pump, so to speak, by chatting amiably with persons nodding off to sleep. In fact, it seems to happen to me quite often.

When I notice someone once again has nodded off in the middle of one of my stories, I begin the experiment. Somewhere between consciousness and the unconscious, the mumbling begins.

If I ask, “What did the bunny say about the black hole?” I’ll hear something like, “Hmm? Divide the hypothesis by the hippopotamus and … sknxx … turn right. Ghghghghonk…”

I suspect that many “Saturday Night Live” skits and chart-topping songs were written this way.

It doesn’t work on me, of course. I’m too smart. Instead of gibberish, many brilliant ideas have hit me just as I’m drifting off to sleep.

The problem is they leak out of my head during the night. I’ve tried wringing out my pillowcase into a cup in hopes of reconstituting some of these great ideas, but it never works. They’re gone.

I probably would be a millionaire 17 times over already except for this leakage. It’s a mystery of the mind.

That’s what’s at work here. On the list of the “The Top 10 Mysteries of the Mind” as published by LiveScience, No. 10 is why do we dream and how do dreams work, No. 9 is how does sleep reorganize the mind, and No. 1 is what exactly is consciousness and is there any clear line from when one passes from it to unconsciousness in sleep.

Who cares why? It’s free entertainment.

Things can be even more interesting after your test subjects are asleep.

The siblings of a rather close relative of mine – I hesitate to say who since he probably still has the power to ground me – say that one night he sat up in bed and belted out “The Ballad of Davy Crockett.” All 20 verses. When he finished, he flopped back down and resumed snoring. He has since denied even knowing that there are 20 verses to “Davy Crockett.”

My mom says that once she woke up to see this same relative trying to scale the bedroom wall.

“What are you doing?” she demanded.

“Climbing the Empire State Building,” he said, and kept climbing. He finally must have reached the top because he stopped pistoning his arms and legs, sank back into his pillow and awoke the next morning unaware that anything had happened. I think he denied knowing that there was an Empire State Building, so how could he have been climbing it?

My college roommate made vicious claims that would lead one to believe that perhaps I was a chip off the ol’ block, but of course … oh, sorry … of course, these are unsubstantiated reports and therefore … um … cannot be trusted.

Anyway… oh, my … didja set the dial for re-entry? I don’t want … snixx … the asparagus to drive the truck unless he fastens his seatbelt this time… Skghghaaaxxx…


© Copyright by author, used with permission by Humor Press. No unauthorized reproduction or redistribution is allowed.

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Unlocking Doors and Life’s Mysteries, One Fob Press at a Time
By Burton Cole, Ohio

He aimed his keyless remote fob at the door and thumbed the ‘‘unlock’’ button. The door wouldn’t open.

Annoyed, my buddy ‘‘Hank’’ pointed again and pressed harder. Nothing.

Hank glared at the door as he thrust the fob at it as if running it through with a saber. He mashed the unlock button like he was detonating a bomb — once, twice, three times, just to be sure. Then he squeezed the doorknob in a death grip and twisted with a might grunt.

The door remained locked.

Steam began to billow from his ears. I’d never seen steam actually billowing from ears before.

Hank reared back, ready to smash a size 13 cowboy boot right through the door. I hated to see a cowboy boot destroyed like that so I took action.

‘‘Maybe,’’ I commented, ‘‘you should try the house key.’’

Hank froze in mid-kick. He looked at the car keys in his hand and choked off something that sounded like, ‘‘Eep!’’

Hank slid a brass key into the lock and the front door practically flew open. He ducked inside, barely giving me a chance to slip past him before he slammed the door and collapsed against it.

‘‘Did anybody see that?’’ Hank asked.

‘‘Couldn’t help it,’’ I said. ‘‘Your car lights kept flashing every time you tried to unlock the front door.’’

‘‘Eep,’’ he said again.

Hank picked up a remote control from an end table, aimed it at the stereo system and clicked. I heard the garage door rumbling down.

‘‘Oops,’’ he said.

He grabbed a second remote, aimed and thumbed. A ceiling fan whipped overheard. Another remote and I was pretty sure I heard a blender take off in the kitchen.

‘‘Here,’’ I said, stepping across the room to the stereo. I blew dust off the “on” switch and flipped it up. Music began to play.

‘‘Thanks,’’ Hank said. He flopped into his easy chair and pressed a button to start the built-in massager.

I couldn’t blame him, really. Ever since the Zenith Space Command television remote control went into commercial production in 1956, existence buttoned down. Now we thumb our way through life. We even have video games that operate by wireless remote so that we can enjoy a full slate of outdoor sports without the bother of going outdoors.

The idea was to make day-to-day living easier. But perhaps we forgot practicality.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you could point a fob at a person’s mind — say, bosses or spouses — and unlock what they’re actually thinking?

Let’s point a translation controller at our teenagers so we can figure what they’re really trying to say through all that mumbling. Better yet, how about a remote control that makes your teenage kid mow the lawn or pick up laundry?

When my computer freezes up, it would be convenient to simply aim a fob at it and press the thaw button. Sometimes, the swift application of a sledgehammer sounds more satisfying, but a fob would be nice.

How cool would it be to aim a remote control at the oven and have a roasted turkey pop out? It could be served to you on the back of the robot stegosaur you zip through the rooms by wireless controllers.

Then I glanced at Hank, who was aiming a series of remotes at his TV while yelling at a persistently blank screen. Through the window, I could see his car lights flicker as the engine fired and quit. The garage door banged up and down. CDs clanked about a changer, lights popped on and off, and a toy fire truck raced across the floor, honking a tiny horn, its tiny siren wailing.

I left Hank’s house, locking the door on my way out. With a key. I’d already tossed the keyless remote fob in the bushes. It was time to thumb my nose at this confusing life of convenience..


© Copyright by author, used with permission by Humor Press. No unauthorized reproduction or redistribution is allowed.

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How to Know Your Neighborhood Is Going to Hell
By Courtney Colwell, New Jersey

When I first moved to my neighborhood, I knew it was something on the edgier side of “up-and-coming”, more like “slowly approaching” or “looking upwards, sometimes.” But I figured with the next town over turning around so quickly, it was just a matter of time that mine would, too. A lot of time.

I could blame the busted housing bubble, the foreclosure free-for-all, and the recession. Or I could blame myself for thinking that proximity to gentrification automatically means you’re next in line.

I’m now thinking that sometimes it means that you just have a good view.

I had originally thought it might be ready for a rebound when I saw a couple of regrettable business ventures close up shop. I mean, did we really need another flea-market store? These aren’t even dollar stores. Those have vendors, inventory, sales. No, these are like consignment stores filled with the crap that’s typically found for sale on blankets on the sidewalk in New York. One man’s trash is, well, just crap.

Beside the indoor yard sales, what we have a lot of are fast food restaurants. There are few fast food chains that aren’t represented within my ten-block radius, and I have to examine of the lower rungs of the fast food ladder to find them – like Arby’s or Long John Silver’s.

The “nicer” restaurants near me are just lukewarm buffets among folding tables and chairs. It’s barely a step up from McDonald’s. The former might offer chairs you can move; but the latter actually offers better atmosphere.

So with my neighborhood offering all of this, you might understand why I got a little excited when I saw that a new restaurant was going in. I anxiously awaited the opening like some people might look forward to lottery numbers being announced. And like most of them, I was a loser.

When the new restaurant finally opened, I only needed to see the huge, permanent sign that read “___ Chinese and Mixcan Restaurant” to know this was no symbol of change. I’m omitting the first part of the name because 1) you can pretty much guess it will include the words “lucky” or “happy” in it, and 2) how could that possibly matter next to “Mixcan”?

I’m not even sure it wasn’t intentional. I mean, maybe they really are serving mixed canned food, and this is just a cute colloquialism for it. I really wouldn’t know. What I do know is that this doesn’t bode well for my neighborhood coming up … it’s more like it’s going down.


© Copyright by author, used with permission by Humor Press. No unauthorized reproduction or redistribution is allowed.

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Why I Cannot Live Without A Messy Desk
By Glenn H.,

(Editor's note: Last name withheld by request.)

“Where is my checkbook? What happened to that phone number I copied last week? What happened to my life insurance policy that I took out of the safe-deposit box?”

You cannot believe all the aggravation that I have faced because my desk is in a continuous state of disorder. Although I am not a fan of personifying inanimate objects, I sometimes daydream that my desk is a hungry beast eagerly awaiting important documents to swallow. Bills, receipts, government documents, letters from friends and every other imaginable piece of needed documentation vanish from sight into my wooden "black hole" of confusion.

My wife gets angry about my disposition toward chaos. My son alternates between laughter and frustration. The latter is the case when the UFO (unlucky friendly object) had his name on it. I have wasted so many hundreds of hours looking for things thrown on my desk that even at minimum wage; I would not be so desperate to get this article published.

Why do I let it happen? I am not a lazy slob. I put intensive effort into projects. A sequenced, orderly day always pleases me with a sense of accomplishment. I am not a devotee of Heisenberg's "Uncertainty Principle," eager to prove that I am unable to put an item in exact place-so why bother? Provoking my wife's wrath does not fill me with sadistic joy.

For a time, I wondered if the messy desk was the result of "nature or nurture." Searching my family tree has not revealed any evidence of congenital grunge. My family raised me in a neat, orderly house. Could I be suffering from Multiple Personality Disorder and one of my many faces is a slovenly renegade? It was clear that I needed to seek professional help. But from whom should I seek the cure?

A behavioral psychologist could set up a schedule of negative outcomes. Possibly he could arrange to have me shocked when I mess up the desk. What if I grew to like the shocks? Might a regimen of therapeutic drugs place my house in order? I would probably put the prescription on my desk. Was there any hope?

I decided to seek solitude to search my soul for a solution. Since no one would approach my desk, I decided to stay seated and allow my mind's eye to scan my memories. After a few hours it came to me. A messy desk was my link to longevity and possible immortality. (Maybe a Freudian therapist would help?) For many years I had taught an ethics course that engaged many speakers. Several of the speakers' presentations dealt with end of life issues. Almost without exception, when people realized they were confronting a terminal condition; one of the first actions they undertook was to clean their desks-"get their affairs in order."

My mind had equated a clean desk with preparation for end of life activities. As long as my desk remained messy, I was safe. I can sense what you’re thinking. "This guy is nuts!" However, my desk is still messy and I am still here.

© Copyright by author, used with permission by Humor Press. No unauthorized reproduction or redistribution is allowed.

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To Tortoise Owners Everywhere
By Neil Hocking,
United Kingdom

To tortoise owners everywhere, all twelve of you. Have you ever contemplated what you would do if your pride and joy escaped from your garden sanctuary?

You might think that finding a lost tortoise would be considerably easier than tracking down a tearaway terrier or repatriating a playful pussy, but this is not necessarily the case.

It is generally true that if you were to momentarily lose sight of your prize specimen, as it went foraging in the lettuce beds, you could draw up a relatively accurate diagram to narrow down its potential position, based on an estimate of its maximum speed of movement and original position. By discounting such impossibilities as scaling six foot wooden fences and traversing streams (though I would suggest looking in any sources of water), nine times out of ten you could probably flick the kettle on and find the creature before the water came to the boil.

But what if the thing actually did go missing? Perhaps you went shopping and it crawled, ninja-like through a shrub-concealed hole in the perimeter fences, or maybe a naughty schoolchild popped over to retrieve a football and decided a tortoise in the rucksack would do wonders for his street cred.

Calling the beast would be a futile exercise. Even if you had bothered naming it, it is highly unlikely that the poor creature had ever been made aware of the event. Perhaps, though, your pet shop had brought in an exotic line of intelligent and responsive tortoises. But what could its manner of response be? Excitement is a lot easier to display when you are a dog, the propensity to over exaggerated affection obviously an evolutionary advantage when your food source is cruelly hidden inside metal skins that rely upon another species to break into it. Even a cat’s more refined show of commitment is a lot more obvious than anything your glorified garden ornament could emulate.

What could the tortoise’s ecstatic return to its loving owner’s arms translate into apart from a wrinkled smile and a meandering wander towards a creature that infuriatingly won’t stand still and actually look in the right direction. Even if you did happen to look at it you would most likely mistake it for a rock or a lump of vegetation.
And what about the posters? There are myriad ways to describe a missing moggy or pinched pup; the colour of its fur, the distinguishable marks, torn ears, gouged eyes, responds to the name ‘Carnage’. However, it is quite likely that when sitting down to design the reward notice it might suddenly dawn on you that you had never actually thought to look at your pet before, and while you desperately try to console your grief-stricken four year old, her contributions of ‘it’s green’ and ‘it has a shell’ and ‘it likes dandelions’ might have you reaching for the pet shop telephone number and taking the easier route back to her heart.

Which begs the question, is it really worth the effort to even look for a missing tortoise? Unlike a cat or dog it should be relatively easy to sneak a replacement into the vegetable patch before milking the adoration of your children for your sublime detective skills. However, moral conscience would probably kick in and although you know very well that the little blighter is munching away on poor old Granny Jones’s cauliflowers and getting fat, the niggling worry that a psychopathic pothead is devising the most entertaining way of separating him from his shell in order to obtain a new ashtray won’t go away. Fearful that your nights and days would blend together in a nightmarish guilt-fuelled existence, with thousands of mutilated tortoises plodding over your prone corpse for eternity, would no doubt motivate you to continue looking.

I hope this little piece of writing will strike a chord in the hearts of all tortoise owners, and owners of any other boring, pointless pets out there. You may have thought you were being clever, taking the easy option, dodging the responsibilities of pet-parenthood but you are mistaken. Look after that long-distance relative of the Dime bar, that famous hare-racing, One Foot in the Grave starring reptile for it may even now be plotting its escape. Of course, you could always spray paint a cross on it.


© Copyright by author, used with permission by Humor Press. No unauthorized reproduction or redistribution is allowed.

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The Adventures of Bison
Jessi Hotakainen, Florida

Last week I was taking my Great Dane, Bison, out for a stroll in the local dog park in Jacksonville Beach. In the center of the park, there is a slight drop off that leads to a small body of water, perhaps twenty five yards long. Because Bison is a spry ten month old, he doesn't go for the typical 'walk' around the park, but instead demands to reach speeds that hover on the 'cardio' range. Seeing as how I am only twenty four years old myself, I can't honestly deny him the exercise, even though I would rather be at home on the couch.

This particular evening was beautiful, the sun was setting across the horizon, casting an orange glow through the sky. Bison and I were jogging slow circles, his head held high, my tongue hanging out. Just then I spotted her; the most beautiful woman alive, coming into the park with her Weimaraner.

After that things happened quite rapidly and all at once:

1.) I twisted my neck to see her (yes ladies, we can't help ourselves) and slowed almost to a standstill.

2.) Bison saw, what must have been, the most enticing squirrel in Florida, running toward a tree.

3.) The woman looked up, perfectly, into my eyes and smiled.

Stop time, stop the sun from sinking, and absolutely stop that squirrel's bushy tail from bouncing across the leaves. Somewhere a dog barked, a child laughed, and everything was right in the world. Okay, now if you must, press play:

Bison took flight, the length of the leash between us stretched out like a whip, jerking me along with him. Just for the record, I don't think people should own dogs that they cannot control. So thankfully I, somehow, stayed on my feet and managed to run backwards with Bison for a few feet until I turned around. In which I immediately tripped on a root and slammed into the ground. Bison stood staring down at me, head cocked, like 'Really? I think I could have gotten that squirrel'. I stood quickly and brushed myself off. Then, like nothing happened, I jogged straight out of the dog park, via the other gate. It's hard to attract women when your dog is more suave than you are.


Three nights ago I was set up on a blind date, by my co-worker Greg. He had been hounding me about his girlfriend's sister for weeks, and finally I broke down and agreed. Friday night came around and there I sat, awaiting Marline's arrival at my favorite Italian restaurant I have to admit that I was nervous, although I had seen a picture, it was my first blind date after all. Marline arrived exactly on time, a pretty blonde with big green eyes, and we hit it off right away. The date was going so well, in fact, that I invited her back to my place for a glass of wine.

Before unlocking the door, I warned her about how large Bison was, but reassured her, he was harmless.

"You didn't tell me you had a dog!" She exclaimed with a huge smile. When I opened the door Bison came barreling down the hallway toward us and Marline nearly screamed in glee, "OOOH, he is SO handsome!" and then began hugging and kissing Bison. With tall pointy ears, a square snout, and a brindle coat, Bison is quite the ladies man. After about five minutes of affection, we walked into the living room, where I asked her, "Would you like a glass of wine?"

Marline smiled those lovely red lips at me and nodded. In the kitchen I marveled at how well the date was going for a first time encounter between two total strangers. It was great to finally meet someone interesting and beautiful. After uncorking the bottle, I walked back into the living room, where I stopped short. Marline was allowing Bison to lick all up inside of her mouth!

It was mostly disappointing because Bison got to her first; I mean, I knew there was no chance of ME kissing her after that. Needless to say Marline didn't stay very long; now, what people do with their dog is their business. Marline will make some lucky dog owner very happy one day, but Bison's not allowed to cuddle on first dates anymore.

© Copyright by author, used with permission by Humor Press. No unauthorized reproduction or redistribution is allowed.

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Patty Kimerer Has Become a Fan of "Hating Facebook"
Patty Kimerer, Ohio

I hate Facebook. Seriously. Not kidding - it's ruining my life. Totally.

OK, I'm exaggerating. Facebook does not have that much power over me. But it has hypnotized several of my friends, family members, and colleagues into bind submission - and I'm out to stop it.

For real.

If one more of my Facebook friends tries to get me to eat their imaginary tofu pumpkin truffle muffins with gorgonzola icing, I'm going to literally - not to be confused with virtually - hurl.

If I get one more request to find a make-believe loving home for an adorable pink unicorn with blue velvet spots and a satin bow around its neck, I'm going to start inventing animals of my own for which to crusade - maybe the Patty-guin or the Kimer-saurus? Hmm, I could be onto something.

But, no, no! I won't get sucked into some Facebook Fairy Land.

If one more of my colleagues asks me to join his or her to fight to wipe out a rivaling family, execution-style, as part of their ongoing Mafia War, I may turn my own cold hand.

Look, as the 1980s fitness guru Susan Powter so eloquently shrieked in her campy infomercial: Stop the insanity!

And it truly is insanity. Because, even though Facebook is a convenient way to stay in touch and share photos with out-of-town friends and family members, it's gotten way out of hand.

To illustrate, I cite Exhibit A: My girlfriend who lives in Trumbull County but shall remain nameless for her own protection. This pal, let's call her "Regina," is a Facebook zombie and is in particular and dire need of a Facebook intervention.

Not only does Regina spend several hours a day posting videos, editing photos, and writing blurbs for / to her page, but she also sets aside extra time to become the fan of about a dozen new Facebook pages every day, too.

Honestly. I think the Facebook Czar reached in and entranced her brain ala the "Stepford Wives."

Think I'm overreacting? She has a Facebook page that is hosted by her dog.

Then there's my childhood chum, let's refer to her as "Marie."

Marie was spending so many consecutive Facebook hours bedazzling her page with hearts, joining online causes, and chatting with people she hasn't even thought of in two decades that her husband called their township police department and had an All Points Bulletin put out on her. And when the police sketch artist came to the house for a description from her hubby and children, no one could even remember what she looked like.

True story - check it out at Snopes.com. OK, I may have embellished a tad.

Anyway, the sad fact remains that I'm just as guilty as they. Why?

Because I cannot completely shut my page down. I did it once, for about a week - but then curiosity about whether or not my friends are happy, sad, cold, bored or tired got the better of me and I reinstated the page (which is as simple as logging back on).

Oh, and I'm a total Facebook coward, too, because I'm afraid to ignore a "Friend Request" - even if it's from someone who is completely mean to me or whom I have never met in my life.

Why, you ask, would someone even want to see the page of a rival or a complete stranger in the first place?

I can't answer that. I've never requested to be "Facebook Friends" with someone whom I've never met. And naturally, I try to like everyone, so ... I digress.

Ah, and, speaking of liking everyone, Facebook brings up so many sophomoric issues that I feel I'm back in high school any time I log onto my profile.

I mean, is "Suzy" just asking to be my friend so that "Nancy" - who is "Suzy's" BFF but despises the fact that I even consume oxygen - can use my family photos to make a new dartboard in her basement recreation room?

That's it. I'm done with Facebook once and for all. Seriously. Today.

After I make sure that no adorable faux farm animals need a fake home – and once I eat the Mincemeat and Guacamole Pie someone whipped up just for me.


© Copyright by author, used with permission by Humor Press. No unauthorized reproduction or redistribution is allowed.

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The Best Medicine May Be in the Mailbox
Vincent O'Keefe, Ohio

My mailbox cracks me up.

Each morning as I walk to the end of my driveway, I look forward to the day’s catch of medical literature. My wife is in the profession, and the box bombards her with ads for medical conferences, roundtables, symposiums, seminars, webinars, and many other big words for professional gatherings. I often giggle right there at the mailbox at the irony and wordplay of these events, whether planned or unplanned.

Sometimes the irony involves semantics. For example, the Neurology for the Non-Neurologist Conference always puzzles me. In my field, would that be equivalent to a Humanities conference for the Non-Human? And does that mean that Non-Neurologists have to attend other Non-Conferences for Non-Specialists? When do they get to attend their own conference?

Also entertaining are attempts at excitement-via-punctuation for activities diametrically opposed to excitement — e.g. “Save the Date for the Wound Care Conclave!” Other non sequiturs involve images. One postcard recently featured a picture of a turtle with the question in bold print: “Chronically Questioned about Chronic Constipation?” Why smear the innocent turtle?

Sometimes the irony in the mailbox involves geography. Granted, organizers try to make their conferences attractive by offering desirable locations, but the results are often comic. For example, as a parent I especially love the “Headache Update” conferences held at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort. I’m sure they don’t have any trouble finding suitable subjects for study there. I could have been one myself a few years ago when a Magic Kingdom employee accidentally poked my seven-year-old daughter in the eye. (On the bright side, that poke led to “free cuts” in the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad line.)

Or how about the “Sleep Disorders” conference on Bourbon Street in New Orleans? That one got my neighbor’s attention as I laughed out loud in the driveway. Or the Dermatology for the Non-Dermatologist Conference in, of all the skin-friendly places in the country, Key West. And “Pain Week” in Las Vegas? Isn’t that title likely to discourage attendance -- and perhaps jog some traumatic memories that were meant to stay in Vegas?

Surprisingly, the most absurd medical conference titles involve the most serious health problem: heart failure. In fact, over time I have detected an almost celebratory approach to heart problems, as if some type of opposite-day spin has invaded the issue. For instance, there was the “High Touch, High Tech: Heart Failure for the 21st Century” conference, which suggests bigger and better heart failures in the new millennium. Similarly, the “Lub, Dub, and Splash” conference suggests a more playful, water-based way to experience vascular catastrophe.

And finally, the most oxymoronic medical promotion: the “Heart Failure Holiday Symposium,” held in beautiful downtown Chicago. What better way to celebrate the holidays than with family and massive heart failure in the Windy City? One of the brochures actually had a festive image of Water Tower Place on the cover, complete with holiday lights in the trees and the John Hancock Building illuminated in the background.

It’s enough to make me want to attend the Pain Management for the Non-Pain Specialist conference. And if you think about it, aren’t we all non-pain specialists to one degree or another? Besides, at least it’s held in an appropriate location for a change: the islands of Florida, well south of Disney.


© Copyright by author, used with permission by Humor Press. No unauthorized reproduction or redistribution is allowed.

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Bedhead, Bedroom Shoes and A Runaway Bosom
Joni Pittman, Georgia

It was bound to happen. For years I have been playing with carpool fire, escaping the humiliating burn that was inevitable to occur. Risk takers, in general, are a prideful bunch, attempting to defy odds that all reasonable folks know are not in their favor. Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall, words that ring in my ears as I now contemplate the events of the morning.

I would ask that you refrain from judgment. As presumptuous as it may sound, I am certain that I am not alone in circumstances that beg for anonymity in the car line. In fact, we often pass by one another, baseball hats pulled low over our foreheads, huge sunglasses hiding the smudges from the previous day’s mascara and morning breath that can only be described as demonic.

The habit began innocently enough. A rushed morning, a scramble to fill lunch boxes and empty backpacks, left little time for proper dress. As is the case for most harried, worn-out moms, priority is given to the needs of the offspring first, and any remnants left over is hardly adequate to address decent grooming.

School mornings that resembled a three ring circus became less hectic and a little more bearable when I readied myself in less than thirteen seconds. Through much practice, and studying film of various pit crews in NASCAR, I have been able to accomplish pseudo-acceptable dress in the amount of time it takes for my children to bicker their way to the car.

Certain concessions in attire are made to ensure arrival before the mocking of the tardy bell is heard. For instance, a sweatshirt is often worn over a pajama top. While I am aware that I have reached an age that has been sucker-punched by gravity, and fully recognize that any outing lacking underwire is just plain wrong, the reality remains that it is quicker to hang free rather than support that which hangs.

Pajama pants worn to bed are also worn to school. At first, it was confusing to my children, as they often asked if I was headed to Wal-Mart after drop-off because “you know we always see people in their pajamas in the check-out line.” In addition, the bed head that frightens my husband every morning is sometimes covered with a baseball hat completing the look that can only be admired by a colorblind hobo. And besides, who is going to see me if I don’t get out of the car?

Famous last words spoken by the unkept, unshowered and unsightly.

My son's forgotten lunchbox in the back seat of the car forced the issue this morning. He was to leave for a field trip any moment with high hopes of taking nutrition with him. I sped back to the school, hoping that the bus hadn’t already left, knowing that if it had, the preservatives eaten for breakfast couldn’t possibly combat ensuing pangs of hunger.

With a quick glance to the mirror to confirm that I looked as disheveled as you are now imagining, I pulled my hat lower, and briskly walked towards the entrance of the building. Positioning one arm across my chest – as though I were about to say the Pledge of allegiance – I tried without much success to hide the unrestricted body parts my best friend’s child refers to as “falling acorns.”

Wearing red and white striped pajama bottoms topped with a faded blue sweatshirt, I looked like a tattered American flag shuffling up the steps in my bedroom slippers. My battle plan was to toss the lunch box at the kind receptionist and then turn on my fuzzy heels and run like the Red Coats were coming.

Instead of a quiet, inconspicuous retreat, I was met with an impromptu meet and greet with a few of the staff and two visiting students who fully took in with bulging eyeballs my bed head, bedroom shoes and runaway bosom. Together we all pretended that I didn't look like a bra-less fugitive in patriotic colors.

Allow my mistakes to be a lesson to those of you who tempt fate every morning in the carpool line. You may think that you are getting away with bulky sweatshirts and flannel bottoms, hiding crusty eyes behind sunglasses and halitosis behind rolled up windows. But I'm here to proclaim this very painful truth: it's only a matter of time - and one forgotten lunchbox - before you too will be caught in all of your unsupported, floppy glory.

God Bless America.


© Copyright by author, used with permission by Humor Press. No unauthorized reproduction or redistribution is allowed.

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Fun at the Beach
Richard Turck, Washington

I love going to the beach. There are so many activities to enjoy. You can build sand castles, look for sea shells, go sun bathing, play in the ocean, bury yourself up to your neck and wait for the tide to come in... the possibilities are practically endless.

Simply swimming in the ocean is one of my favorite activities. I can enjoy just bobbing up and down in the waves for hours. Enjoy it, that is, until I realize I can no longer see the beach. At this point, I decide I'm enjoying it considerably less. There's something about floating alone in a giant body of salt water that makes me worry. And, to make matters worse, something just touched my foot. Keep in mind, if you're ever out in the ocean and something touches your foot, it's always a shark. What else could it be? I don't think seaweed floats around looking for feet to touch. Sharks are the only ones that do that. They are the only wild animal that have a foot fetish, and they can smell a pair from up to forty miles away.

Now that I can't see the beach and I have a shark tickling my feet, I do the only thing I can; swim madly for the shore, scramble onto the beach, and pass out from exhaustion. I call this part 'sunbathing', and it's my second favorite activity. It feels so nice to just lay on the beach unconscious, without a care in the world.

Once I wake up, I usually find myself back out in the ocean and have to repeat the steps all over again. This will generally continue for 3 to 4 days until I realize I need to crawl further up onto the beach to avoid the tide. Even though there's a lot of work involved with this, I still like to keep reminding myself that I'm having fun.

After I'm done sunbathing, I enjoy scouring the beach for sandcastles that kids are making. Once I find a good one that's almost complete, I like to pretend I'm a giant and smash it with my foot. Most of the time the kid starts crying because he didn't realize I was playing giant. I would explain it to him, but I'm usually bored with the game by then and just walk away.

The beach sure is full of excitement and thrills. There are so many people doing so many different things that it's hard to choose what to do next. Do I want to throw a Frisbee, kick a beach ball, fly a kite, or bury myself in the sand? These are all tough choices to make, and in the end, I usually just choose to bury somebody else instead. Why should I get to have all the fun? It's time to start giving back.

To bury someone, I just look for a person that's napping in the sun, dig a 4 to 5 foot hole next to them, and convince them to hop inside by shoving them in. They're usually really confused and angry at first, but once they're buried up to their chin, they become quite docile. After I do this, I feel good knowing that I'm helping someone else have a great time. Its no longer all about me. Eventually, they'll say something weird like, "Dig me up", but I'm usually kind of sick of digging at that point and tell them to look for someone else to mess around with. It's strange how some people can just dig forever.

Now that I've been at the beach for 2 or 3 weeks, I figure it's time to head to a dermatologist to get tested for skin cancer because I forgot to wear sunscreen. In all the excitement it completely slipped my mind.

I guess the moral of the story is, playing giant and bury people in the sand is fun, but not getting skin cancer is right up there too. It's probably on the level with picking up sea shells. And, think about how exciting it'll be if I don't have skin cancer. In fact, sometimes I'll forget sunscreen on purpose just so it's more surprising if the test results come back negative. I love surprises.


© Copyright by author, used with permission by Humor Press. No unauthorized reproduction or redistribution is allowed.

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The Robe
Thomas Wheeler, Texas

I am a state district judge for a medium-sized rural county in West Texas. Being a mud-on-the-boots country boy, I am more comfortable working livestock than strappin' a thoughtful look on my face and meting out justice. Early on, I found that adjusting to some of the formalities associated with my position gave me a bit of trouble. One of the most difficult adjustments was the wearing of a judicial robe.

The robe presented a particular challenge at the beginning of one of my first jury trials. I had spent the preceding weekend armpit deep in weeds at the family farm. I expected to and did get a bait of chiggers. (A chigger is a microscopic, flea-like critter whose purpose in life is to attach itself to the most dark, damp recess of the human body and cause an itching sensation.) On the first day of the trial, in response to chigger-induced stimuli, I reacted as would any normal person. I scratched my mid-section. The problem (outside the chigger infestation) was the jury's view and possible mis-perception of my actions. With a robe on and positioned behind a bench, I was concerned that some of the jurors might wrongly interpret what I was doing with my hands. It was probable that one or more of the twelve suspected I was engaging in the same kind of deviant public behavior that occasionally brings folks to my court.

I had to do something to respond to the accusatory looks. Should I: 1) Interrupt the trial, go through the weed/chigger story and hope the jury buys my explanation, 2) grin real big and wink at any juror that is staring at me to give credence to his or her suspicions, 3) duck behind the bench every few minutes and hope the jury thinks I am picking up things or 4) stand up, turn around, scratch and mutter "damn chiggers' so both the record and the jurors would be clear? I found that employing option two resulted in a quick verdict and the jury's quick exodus from the courthouse.

A couple of weeks ago, the robe once again played a part in causing those in the courtroom to question my judicial demeanor. A young man had plead guilty to a drug charge. His momma was sitting on the front row of seats crying silently. The lawyers were serious. I was looking down on the gathering, a black-robed Solomon about to hand down justice....when something stung me on my side.

The sting hurt. I started whopping myself on my left side with my right hand in an attempt to discourage the offending insect from inflicting further pain. The bug retaliated. The robe proved to be a barrier to effective whopping but instead of unzipping it (the normal manner of removal), I reached under and flipped the robe up to gain a more direct path to the now very perturbed attacker. I am thankful that there were relatively few there to witness the gyrating, robe-over-the-head representative of law and order beating the bejesus out of himself for no apparent reason. The now-stunned insect, still under my shirt, dropped down to my belt area and continued to move around. Fearing additional stings, I then employed both hands and began pummeling my mid-section. I did have the sense to excuse myself to my office before becoming further undressed and I found...nothing. No ant. No bee. Nothing to show my staff to counter their suspicions that I had finally gone over the edge. No dead or woozy offender in my pants. None on the floor. I needed evidence. I needed a body...but nothing.

I walked back into the courtroom (pants and robe appropriately situated) and told my story to the mildly confused gathering. I saw disbelief in the eyes of many. I briefly considered raising up my shirt to show the whelps left by my attacker but then realized my reputation probably couldn't have withstood that additional offense. It was at that moment, I realized that the courtroom security cameras continued to roll.

I can fire my staff if they should bring up the incident. I can make the lives of the lawyers a living hell should the story be repeated. I am praying the video tape is never reviewed. I gave the young drug user a slightly better sentence than originally contemplated. I am hoping he and his mother will repay my kindness with their silence.

© Copyright by author, used with permission by Humor Press. No unauthorized reproduction or redistribution is allowed.

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