Bob Newhart Names “Mad” Kane Winner of 2008 Robert Benchley Society Award for Humor

Back in June I was thrilled to announce that I was a 2008 Robert Benchley Society Award for Humor Competition finalist. (The humor column that got me onto the finalists list is Guide For The Opera Impaired.

Well, I’m now beyond thrilled because Bob Newhart, the finalists judge, picked me as the FIRST PRIZE winner.

Mr. Newhart even sent me a handwritten personal note (reproduced below) explaining why he named me for the top Robert Benchley Society humor award.

Right now I’m verging on euphoria —a dangerous condition for a satirist.  But just to be mentioned in the same sentence as Mr. Benchley and Mr. Newhart is almost beyond comprehension.

Here’s Mr. Newhart’s note. (Needless to say, I plan to frame the original.)

Bob Newhart Letter

UPDATE: I’m very pleased that my award has generated a fair amount of publicity.  This article in Gannett’s Journal News is probably the best of the stories.  And it has a fun companion video of me reading one of my humor columns.

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34 Responses to “Bob Newhart Names “Mad” Kane Winner of 2008 Robert Benchley Society Award for Humor”

  1. Wahahahahahaha! Congratulations! Of course you won! Yay!

    Oh my God! Bob Newhart! I loved “The Button-down Mind”!

  2. skippy says:

    congrats, mad!

  3. cgeye says:



  4. Charles says:

    No one does it better
    Than Mad, Lady of Letters.
    She knows the score
    Gives an opera tour,
    And next: she takes on Goethe.

  5. The award itself is a marvelous achievement, but to have Newhart the one who gives it to you…that’s like being annointed by the comedy gods. Great news! Congratulations!

  6. Kevin Hayden says:

    This better not be a dream sequence or I’m going to have to kick the shins of Larry, Darryl and his other brother, Darryl, severely.

    It’s about time that the Humor Gods recognized the goddessliness of such mortals as yourself, Maddie.

    You certainly earned it. Congratulations!

  7. (: Tom :) says:

    Congrats, Madeleine. You are an inspiration to us all…

  8. Don Davis says:

    Truly deserved — great congrats!


  9. That is so awesome! I have watched and loved Bob Newhart since I was a little girl in the 70’s, and to be paid such a compliment in such a personal way….Wow!

  10. The only thing which would make this more perfect is a Newhart phone bit on this ;)

  11. madkane says:

    Thanks so much to all of you.

    I still can’t quite believe it. :)

  12. Batocchio says:


  13. Oh, and I’m glad to see everybody’s a Newhart fan, so let toss some love to Benchley.

    Somewhat inebriated, Benchley once came out of a New York restaurant and bumped into a uniformed man standing near the door. “Would you get us a taxi, please?” he asked. “Sir, I happen to be a rear admiral in the United States Navy,” the man huffed. “All right, then,” said Benchley, “get us a battleship.”

  14. Steve Bates says:

    Woo-hoo!! Congratulations, Mad, on a well-deserved award!

  15. g-a-b says:


  16. Marion says:

    Wow! What a huge compliment…Congratulations. Bob Newhart always delivered his comedy with such panache, and I hugely admire him.

    Thank you for entering the Soup to Nuts Carnival First Course.

  17. Scorpio says:

    Good for you! Keep up your fine writing.

  18. Aaaiiiyyy! So awesome! Keep up the great work, Mad.

  19. eRobin says:

    That’s wonderful! Congratulations!

    His vibrato sounded wide, don’t you think? and Pavarotti’s no Pavarotti. still have me chuckling.

    Bravo ;)

  20. madkane says:

    Thanks so much to all of you for your congratulations and kind words.

  21. art predator says:

    what a major accomplishment! i bet you are still in 7th heaven!

  22. Congratulations, Mad! This is wonderful news. I hope it’s okay that I have spread the news, quoting “The Uniform Opera Plot Act” section’s 3-part structure for my writers group of friends:

    You are so witty. Thanks for spreading the wit over the blogosphere for us all to read.

    ~~~ Bonnie

  23. Mr. Newhart is a true gentleman and one of the most original talents this country has ever produced. This is the kind of accolade a person dreams about–congratulations!

  24. Sara says:

    Congrats! That is awesome news.

  25. paisley says:

    mad!!!! congratulations.. i am so proud.. and so thrilled for you.. thank you for sharing this moment with us,, it gives us all a moment in the spotlight just knowing that we knew her when…….

  26. Deb says:

    Congrats!!! Benchley was my introduction to humor – I started reading him when I was all of seven or eight years old, so his essays and writings shaped my idea of sophisticated, adult humor. To this day, I compare everyone to him – and you are truly a worthy recipient of this honor! Weee!!

  27. Debby says:

    Dear Mad Kane ~ Mazel tov! Congratulations on the award. I love your work and am so glad to have found your web site and especially enjoy your haiku. I will return often to read.

    all the best

  28. mazel tov!
    This major award PLUS a handwritten note from Bob. Wow!

  29. madkane says:

    Thanks so much everyone for your enthusiasm and congrats. I really appreciate it!

  30. Inspired by praise from Newhart and comparison with Benchley, truly inspires me to offhandedly say…

    Matching what both Roberts can do,
    proves what humour comes from you,
    but more, I would crave
    like straight from his grave,
    get Ogden Nash to praise you too.

  31. madkane says:

    LOL! And thanks, Gerald. Such praise would probably scare the hell out of me.

  32. Well, button me down and shut my mouth, this is about the coolest thing ever!! First, because it’s the Benchley award, and he was one of the driest wits (and acted one of the best drunks in movies), and second, because Bob Newhart is in that same style… dry, clever, beyond the pale.

    There once was a poet named Kane
    Whose lim’ricks drove readers insane
    They were funny as hell
    But as far’s I can tell
    Sides were split, and her wit gave us pain

    Amy Barlow Liberatore

  33. madkane says:

    Amy, thanks so much for your enthusiastic words and your limerick! This award really was quite a thrill! Even though it happened in 2008, still can’t quite believe it. :)