Nathan Bransford, Author

Monday, August 15, 2011

JWFWCSHE Finalists!!

Here! They! Are!

The finalists of the Jacob Wonderbar Funny Writing Contest Spectacular Happening Event!

BUT FIRST, just a quick note about choosing these finalists. It was hard. I mean, I know I always go on and on about how hard it was to choose the finalists after every contest. But this was REALLY hard. It's hard to be funny out of context without knowing the characters. It's hard to be funny in 350 words. Humor is subjective.

Very difficult.

But I read them all and I have arrived at these finalists. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did. (And I swear I read every single entry, though the finalists ended up being from the first 200.)

While reading these quite amusing entries, I noticed...

Common subjects I would not have expected: Dragons, mice, training bras.

The format of this contest seems to have favored dialogue: It just seemed like with this short of a prompt, funny conversations seemed to jump out a bit more, though I ended up with a range of styles with the finalists.

Voice voice voice voice voice: Voice voice voice voice voice voice voice. (Voice: Incredibly crucial to humor. This post seems relevant)

You are a funny group of individuals: Give yourself a hand.

First, congrats to these honorable mentions, who acquitted themselves quite honorably indeed:

Holly Bodger
Mike Cyra
Adam Slade
Vinyl and Mono
Allan Petersen

And now, before I announce the finalists, please remember the voting rules:

In order to vote for the winner, please leave a vote in the comments section of this post. You will have until approximately 7 PM Pacific time TODAY to vote. Please do not e-mail me your vote.

Anonymous comments will be closed during the voting to diminish covert voting opportunities.

Also: Please do not campaign for yourself or for your favorites out there on the Internet. Let's keep this fair. Please remind friends of this as well.

The grand prize winner will be announced tomorrow!


The five finalists are............


I faced them again. “OK, OK. Any questions then? Yes? Right, you with the big nose. Go!”

“Err.” The reporter I indicated seemed both unsure whether or not I meant him, and throttled by eagerness. “What happened, Strafe?”

“A man died.” Strafe 1, Press 0. “Next. You, there, with the ill advised beard.”
“What was the cause of death?” His beard was actually two beards; a thumbnail sized smudged under his bottom lip, and a spot hanging from his chin. He looked like he’d been poked by a magic marker.

“Something got lodged in his stomach.”

“Which was?”

“An extraterrestrial. Next. Over there. With the ugly shirt.”

“Hey! This is a genuine Fioracchi!”

“OK. In the ugly Fioracchi.”

“How big was this alien? Did he swallow it?”

“That’s two questions. Pick one.”

“Err….this first.”

“About four feet tall. Five and a half if you count the spike on its head.” I was on a roll now, slipping into the natural rhythms I used during these tedious press statements. It’s about playing to the crowd, working out which answers will elicit which reaction from the gathered masses and picking the best one. My arms shot about, selecting questions like a conductor indicating when an instrument should add to the orchestrated swell of an opera.

“The woman with menopause face!”

“Err…The other question the guy asked.”

“Did he swallow it?”


“No. It was rammed through him like a skewer.” There was a comical collective ‘ewwww’ from the crowd. Like gothic teenagers feasting on the morbid facts, the reporters, almost as one, scribbled down notes.

“You, over there, with the…Woah!...What happened to your face?”

“Eh.” The reporter said, his uneven eyes regarding me with incomprehension.

“Your face. With the…” I pushed my nose in a couple of different directions. “And the…” I did the same to my jaw and my ear.


“Oh right.” I gave him a nervous smile as means of an apology. “Right, ok, your questions.”

“How did the alien…”

“I’m sorry, I can’t do this. You’re too distracting. You over there. The plain, normal-looking dude.” I said, pointing.

Tim Roast!

I can’t do funny stories; I can only do sad stories at the moment. You see my pet, Anthony the Ant, died.

We were out playing in the garden. I turned my back just for a minute and the next-door neighbour’s pet, Declan the Anteater, jumped over the fence and started to hoover up little Anthony. Well I ran across as quick as I could but I was too late; I could only retrieve little Anthony’s head.

I shooed off Declan before looking down at little Anthony’s head inside my cupped hand. He beckoned me towards him, which was hard because he had no legs, and he I heard his dying words. “Avenge... My... Death...”

Well I organised a little funeral for him. I was hoping for a better turn out but Declan had eaten all his little friends too.

Funeral over I set about avenging Anthony’s death so I got a new pet – Sid the Snake – and he ate Declan.

My neighbour then asked me where Declan was. I said I didn’t know. Then he saw Sid the Snake and the anteater shape in his belly.

“Is that Declan?” he asked.

“No, that’s a different anteater,” I replied. My neighbour looked satisfied and started to walk away but at that moment Sid had a coughing fit and brought out all his food. My neighbour saw the half-dissolved anteater and knew it was Declan because of his distinctive nose. He was outraged. “Watch your back,” he said.

The next day I was out playing with Sid in the garden. I turned my back just for a minute and the next-door neighbour’s new pet, Nancy the Mongoose, jumped over the fence and ate Sid.

So you see I am in grief and can’t really do a funny story at the moment.


The car pulled up to a small, tan building. They hustled through the blustery winds to the glass doors. Once inside, her father went to the front desk while Suzy waited on a hard, plastic chair.

The receptionist took out a form and pen, ready to write. “Name?”

“Frank,” her father said.



The receptionist glared at him over the frames of her glasses.

“Sorry, I thought you meant me.” Her father forced a fake laugh. “This is the hamster I called about. The name is Mr. Snugglymuffin.”

“Is Mister abbreviated or not?”

“Does it matter?”

Again, the receptionist looked up at him as if he was ridiculous.

After a few awkward seconds, he scratched the back of his head. “I guess you can abbreviate it.”

The receptionist focused back on the paperwork. “And is Snugglymuffin one word or two?”

“I don’t know. I never spelled it before.”

“Here.” The receptionist put the form on clipboard and held it out with a pen. “You fill this out.”

Her father took the clipboard and pen and sat down next to Suzy. After glancing over the document, he whispered to Suzy, “Is Snugglymuffin one word or two?”

“Does it matter?”

“Apparently it does.”

“One, I guess.”


I sell heckacool Jeeps. And I sell them in a way that kicks the butts off people. After they’ve signed the paperwork, most folks step out of my office with their faces melted clean off. In a good way. In a “I just bought the crap out of that Jeep” kind of way. The Toyota dealership across the street thinks I’m a god. I don’t let them anywhere near me though. I don’t want their snot-nosed sales numbers getting stains on my sequin jacket.

This morning my crew arrived at 2am to prepare for the 6am opening. And no pansy-butt bagels or pastries to eat. Just coffee beans to chew on and some Slim Jims. My beagle, Macho Man Randy Savage, was there and he howled at them if they didn’t work hard. He doesn’t take crap. Macho Man Randy Savage will gnaw your freakin’ thumb knuckle off.

Three minutes before six, I began the “Call of the Jepo,” (pronounced Heh-po). At my signal, Jennifer the temp pressed the Red Button which set off explosions on the sidewalks in front of the store and sent confetti into the sky. I donned my Jepo cape and ascended a mini-Mayan pyramid parked near the street (I bought the pyramid half off after it was rejected as a float for the Macy’s parade). At its pinnacle, upon a Mayan sacrificial altar, sat a new Toyota Prius. I took a chainsaw to that little carbon candy foot until its front bumper and headlights rolled down the steps of the pyramid and crashed upon the street in front of the Toyota dealership. I could see one of their new salesmen wetting himself. I gave Jennifer another signal, and four more explosions went off, this time with fireworks. I jumped on the Prius and cried out in a great voice, “Bienvenidos al Hhhhhepoooooo!” The Call of the Jepo was completed – the same Call given every morning.

And it worked like a charm. Within twenty-four minutes, there was probably about fifteen kabillion trillion people on my lot wanting to buy one of my heckasweet Jeeps.

Alison Coffey!

How do you know if a girl likes you? Not likes you like she wants to talk about movies or the best Clash songs or share your French fries at the diner. But likes you like she wants to see you with your shirt off and call you in the middle of the night and tell you how much that awesome David Bowie song makes her think of you.

It’s very possible she doesn’t like me that way. She makes fart jokes and snorts when she laughs, and she orders giant, messy burgers and eats them in front of me without shame. Girls don’t do that when they like you, right? But maybe Lyla is different. Maybe she does want to stick her tongue in my mouth as well as sing karaoke "London Calling" in my basement.

I haven’t told Lyla about my theory yet. I want to, but if she likes me in that way (the way I want her to) then she may spit out her coffee and abandon ship, and if she doesn’t like me that way but really cares about me in the friendship way, she may feel obligated to have a special conversation with my mother about this really nice mental hospital in Tucson that she read about on the internet. (In my
mind, Lyla knows way too much about plush mental hospitals.)

I try to imagine the conversation. Hey, guess what, Lyla? Remember when we were talking about past lives? About you wishing your best life was still yet to come? (God that was deep. And cute. So unbelievably cute). Well, my best life is almost certainly behind me. How can I ever top E=mc²? Not to mention the atomic bomb! Although, yes, I agree, that was kind of shitty.

At least the dude felt bad about it. And I feel bad about it, which matters because, Lyla--adorable, smart, sweet, cool, Lyla--I was Albert Einstein. At least I’m pretty sure I was.

I hear Tucson is a nice place to visit.



abc said...

Holy Crap, this made my year!

Reagan Philips said...

Tim Roast. I'm going to have to vote for Tim Roast since he's have such a bad day!

aspiring_x said...

dcamardo was the best, imo. but hillsy's was great too!

JimCripps said...

Hillsy! So funny, I thought I left toast burning in the toaster (and I have neither)!

[And glorious second best to Alison!]

River said...


Allan Petersen said...

I'm humbled to be chosen as honorable mention! The finalist nominees are all extremely worthy. Thanks to Nathan for organizing this.

Allan Petersen

Watcher55 said...

I thought Hillsy's was funniest before the finalists were announced.

J E S S I C A said...

Hillsy! Vivid and hilarious.

Loved them all though!

Sarah said...

Hillsy... though Alison Coffey was a close 2nd.

JJ said...

Hi. I'm hoping your book comes to my library. I'm anxious to read it (I live in Ontario, Canada).
I love writing and reading middle grade stuff. Would love to know a list of your suggestions (I love reading and hope to be a published writer some day). Thanks for suggestions.

Chuck H. said...

Hillsy. No doubt.

CazG1 said...

Hillsy - made me laugh out loud :-)

The Sasquatch said...


Ishta Mercurio said...

I vote for dcamardo - just my kind of humor.

They're all funny, though. Congrats to the finalists and honorable mentions!

M.R. Merrick said...

This was really tough! Between Hillsy and dcamardo. Both were hilarious and made me laugh.

In the end, I'm voting Hillsy.

This totally just made my morning. Great job to everyone.

dcamardo said...

Before I vote, I want to say that I thought the story about Death interviewing Vlad the Impaler was hilarious. I seriously couldn't stop thinking about it all weekend.

And because voting for your own Funny Scene is like laughing at your own joke, making it less funny...

I'm going with Tim Roast, for this line: "Avenge... My... Death..."

Absolutely awesome.

Rick Daley said...

I vote for dcamardo!

WORD VERIFICATION: nowitor. Something that isn't witty or funny.

erica m. chapman said...

It was close. I loved dcamardo's the best. Although Hillsy's was great too.

Ramona's Story Time said...

Hard picking between Holly's and the Jeep one ... although heck they're all pretty spiffy. I finally decided.

I pikc..... Hillsy!

Jenny Maloney said...


Ranae Rose said...

I vote KEVIN! I loved those heckasweet Jeeps. LOL

Krisula said...

My vote goes to Kevin and his heckasweet jeeps

Jules said...

Kevin and the Jepo cape!

Darley said...

Congrats to the finalists. I'm going with Kevin.

Nan said...

Back and forth between dcamardo and Allison Coffey, but if I have to pick just one (and my overflowing bookshelves make it clear that I'm really, really bad at that), it's dcamardo. They're all good.

Mira said...

They are all very clever! Congratulations to everyone selected, honorables and finalists all. Great writing, wonderful job!

In terms of purely funny, I really like Hillsy's - very witty and fast-paced.

D.G. Hudson said...

Congrats to the finalists!

My Vote goes to Tim Roast!

I love the idea of a pet feud, and I've had some crummy neighbors who would do something like this. . .

(sort of a my dog's bigger than your dog routine -- didn't they do that on the old cartoons?)

elephanta said...

Kevin! Totally Kevin!

MarcyKate said...

dcamardo and Mr. Snugglymuffin defintely get my vote!

Adele Richards said...


Total genius and if you don't get published it is a crime against hum(or)anity.

Ann M said...

Congratulations to all the winners! And the runners-up, too!!

My vote goes to:

Alison Coffey!

It was a hard decision, but I choose Coffey because, for me, I thought the entry was easy to read, flowed well, and was pretty creative. I also liked that the humor was woven into the story and characters.

Brittany said...


(can't you just hear that little kid from UP saying it?)

Emergency Laughter said...

I am honored to be an honorably mentioned semi-honorable finalist in your contest! Thank you very much! I'm a weiner!

I vote for Tim Roast! His story made me laugh out loud!

Ya know...If I had made my story about a geriatric female alien anteater driving a jeep who spit a hamster into my mouth...I could have taken this contest!

P.S. what did I win again?
Thanks Nathan!

Valerie Rieker said...

They all made me smile and/or giggle, but KEVIN made me laugh out loud. So... KEVIN!

Stephen Parrish said...

Tim Roast

They were all great but I busted a gut when I read "No, that’s a different anteater."

Ted said...

Hillsy, with Tim Roast a close second.

Caleb said...

I guess humor is subjective. There was only one out of this list that could keep my attention from beginning to end. Even though I was becoming weary of all of the first person narratives I have to go with Alison Coffey. Everyone can relate to this one. Good luck :-)

Hillsy said...

Well, what do I say? Errr....

Does anyone know how to spell that noise you make when you're utterly speachless? You know, the one where you tongue faints and half falls down your throat and your brain misfires, like it's trying to calculate the cube root of pi? sort of....


Aside from that bon mot, thanks everyone for such kind comments - I nearly welled up at a few...=0) And thanks Nathan for running the competition in the first place!

As for my vote (they were all great):


It's got a blend of farce, word play and observation I really like

Terry DeHart said...

Congrats to the honorable mentions and finalists and all who dared.

I'm voting for Hillsy because of the weird backstory and fine insults, and the matter-of-factness of it all.

Paul Michael Murphy said...

Tim Roast!

sarahbrand said...

I'm voting for Alison Coffey.

Kristin Laughtin said...

My vote goes to Kevin!

Momma Elkins said...


Susie said...

congrats to the finalists and kudos to all who dared. Many of the entries were quite funny, so I didn't envy nathan's task. For me, it was Hillsy.

Riley Redgate said...

Dcamardo gets my vote!

Stacy McKitrick said...

dcamardo made me laugh out loud. That gets my vote.

Nicole Zoltack said...

I vote for Tim Roast!

TKAstle said...


Bryan Russell said...

Tim Roast, though the finalists (and the honorable mentions) all rocked.

Michelle Levy said...


timdibulator said...


Sheila Cull said...

dcamardo! (and I had a hard time deciding? you should be patting yourself on the back!)

Angela Brown said...

Congrats to the finalists and honarable mentions :-)

I vote Hillsy. Hecka hilarious.

thechinproject said...

Tim Roast-ing

Carol Riggs said...

Ha! Yes, humor is subjective but I enjoyed all these, clapclapclapCLAP!! All had great voice, like you said.

But I still choose Tim Roast's because it feels more complete. Kudos for a tight beginning, middle, and end all in 350 words! Love the understated humor there. :) (Tho I really do love the first paragraph of Kevin's Jeep dealership story!)

Kate Austin said...

Tim Roast's story cracked me up, probably because I remember when chocolate covered ants became a delicacy in high end grocery stores and I ate a few! Ewwwww!


Elena said...

Congratulations to all of the finalists.

I thought Tim Roast's piece was the funniest.

Ross Slater said...

They were all funny in different ways, but Hillsy! was totally awesome. Loved the mix of old time PR with the sci fi twist.

SarahF said...

My vote goes to Alison Coffey --funny and bittersweet, like John Green's Looking for Alaska. I hope Ms. Coffey builds a book around that scene...

Terri Coop said...

dcamardo's tale gets my vote, it was really cute.

This phrase in another finalist's story:

“The woman with menopause face!”

offended me so deeply that I still can't believe it.

lupejones said...

All of them were truly funny, but my vote goes to Alison Coffey because on top of the humor (under the humor, within the humor?) was also a lot of heart and a distinctive and likable voice.

Brenda said...

Hillsy! Definitely Hillsy!

Mel said...

Tim Roast

Kreann said...

Tim Roast!

Kreann said...

Tim Roast!

Laurie L Young said...

Like many before me, I have to vote for Hillsy with Alison Coffey as a very close 2nd. Actually, they all made me laugh—congrats to all!

seekerval said...

I've gotta go with Hillsy.

Congrats to all entrants.

Laurie L Young said...

Question: Just what is "menopause face?"

Crystal said...

Alison Coffey, FTW!

Nathan Bransford said...

Voting is closed! Results tomorrow!

Heidi said...

Definitely Hillsy, although Allison was a close second!

SC said...


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