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  • Writer's pictureDana Starr

In the Company of Funny, Fearless, Inspirational, Beautiful Ladies

Updated: Apr 7, 2021

Awwww! Look at her in her little outfit. She's gonna try to do stand-up comedy for the crowd. That's so cute. She looks like a feisty, old broad. I hope she doesn't bomb. I'll feel so bad for her. This could be cringe worthy. I don't want her to get her feelings hurt. After all, this is the big leagues. Jokes about wrinkles and Poise pads ain't gonna cut it here. Those were my thoughts as I watched a tiny woman take the stage during the Erma Bombeck Writers' Workshop I attended in early April.

That tiny woman was Monica Piper. Monica "I won an Emmy" Piper who has written for many popular comedic television shows. I was worried about having to feel sorry for her. I am an idiot. She did the opposite of bomb. She slayed for a freaking hour. Do you have any idea how hard that is to do? It is so hard. It's staying on your diet while locked overnight in a bakery kind of hard. It's staying faithful to your husband while Sam Elliott, Tom Selleck, Hugh Laurie, Idris Elba, and Chris Pine beg to bed you kind of hard; however, Monica Piper made it look effortless. That's what you do when you are an amazing award-winning comedy writer/performer/badass.

Rita Davenport is also an amazing award-winning comedy writer/performer/badass. A lady with a most impressive resume. A lady who was close friends with the incredible Erma Bombeck who entertained thousands upon thousands of people with her insightful humor. And, Rita D. is the real life Jolene that Dolly Parton sings about. Can you imagine being so awesome that Dolly Parton is jealous of you and begs you not to take her man?

I was never so proud to be a feisty, old broad as I was in Dayton, Ohio (the home of Erma Bombeck) during the prestigious humor writers' workshop held every two years in her honor. And, I had the privilege of meeting several feisty, young broads I've admired from afar. Many of them are such an inspiration to me even though I'm old enough to be their mama. Their humor, inspiration, perseverance, and fearlessness far exceeds their years.

I wouldn't trade places with any of them, I love my life, but I am just a tad jealous of the ridiculous talent of these women: Kim Bongiorno, Elly Lonon, Chrissy Woj, Leighann Lord, Michelle Poston Combs, Julie Watson, Karen Walrond and Jessica Murnane. Ladies, if the thoughts I had in the first paragraph were the same thoughts you had when you met me (yeah, I know you probably don't even remember meeting me) don't worry about it. I understand. Looks can be very deceiving. I've finally learned never to judge a book by its cover, but I'm sure y'all already know that. You each have such bright, bright futures.

I've got to mention the fabulous badass ladies that I clicked with right away. We are our own tribe within the larger Erma tribe. Terill Jackson, Laurie O'Connor Stephans, and Nancy Dunham you are all great and funny and so talented, and I can't wait to see you again. Hopefully, the four of us will learn not to eat all our delicious food and finish before the other 346 people have even started.

Susan Keller, what can I say???? You know how I feel about your work, and I'll always cherish the moment we had in the "Loser's Lounge." V.C. Chickering, I'll always cherish your performance of "Still Smokes."

I didn't get to do my entire set during the Saturday session of stand-up comedy. Listen to me, talkin' about my set. I'm full of shit, but I swear I ain't lying about the very funny Wendy Liebman telling me I did great in my one minute audition. Wendy probably tells every feisty, old XXL badass broad with a zit and hairs on her chin that she did great; it still felt good to hear. And, it felt amazing to push myself out of my comfort zone. As I age, I'm starting to really like not staying in my comfort zone all the time. Wendy even gave me an unsolicited hug in the airport at four in the morning when we were both wandering around (sans makeup) looking for the bathroom while waiting on our flights back to real life.

And, ahhhhhh, what a glamorous real life it is. Hours and hours and hours of solitude and frustration staring at a blinking cursor on my computer screen trying to write something funny, inspiring, motivating, honest, real. Fighting the fear of rejection that's always in my mind. Fighting the pull of the food in the kitchen and the allure of social media and the tune out factor of the TV and the bubbles in the bathtub. You ain't got to feel bad for me though. I do it because I can't not do it. It certainly ain't for the money or fame. Dolly Parton ain't singin' no songs about me and no one is tryin' to give me an Emmy or a book contract or a stand-up comedy special on Netflix.

At least I get to spend quality time every two years in the company of funny, fearless, inspirational, beautiful ladies, and a handful of equally fabulous men (including Jim Hands aka our king). I hope I get to meet many more attendees, including Jolyn Young, in 2020.

As if all that weren't enough, click here to order Laugh Out Loud. It's a humor anthology comprised of forty women writers from the Erma Bombeck Writers' Workshop.

Much thanks to the very, very classy crew who put it all together. I don't even want to think about how much work is involved in pulling off such an amazing event. I'll guarandamtee you it takes a lot more than three women; however, here are the three women I actually met: Teri Rizvi (the founder of the workshop and executive director of strategic communications at the University of Dayton and one of the most patient and nice people on the planet), Debe Dockins (brownie maker extraordinaire and another patient, kind person who does community outreach development for Washington-Centerville Library which is one of the sponsors of the Erma Bombeck Essay Contest ), and Patricia Brown (a gracious lady who did an amazing job as emcee of the festivities and was able to tell approximately 350 people to shut up and sit down without offending one person multiple times a day).

Finally, I just want to say how great it was to have my essay acknowledged in the company of so many amazing writers. It took the sting out of being robbed of a ribbon in the Hart Elementary School Sixth Grade Essay Contest. What a shit show that was. You can read all about it right here. And, you can see my most recent major awards pictured below.

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