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Author wins Leacock Medal for Humour for second time

Andrew Philips

By Andrew Philips, Special to Postmedia Network

ANDREW PHILIPS/SPECIAL TO THE PACKET & TIMES
Terry Fallis captured this year’s Leacock Medal for Humour for his book, No Relation. He becomes a repeat winner, having also won in 2008.

ANDREW PHILIPS/SPECIAL TO THE PACKET & TIMES Terry Fallis captured this year’s Leacock Medal for Humour for his book, No Relation. He becomes a repeat winner, having also won in 2008.

Terry Fallis is now a member of a fairly elite club.

By capturing the prestigious Leacock Medal for Humour with his book, No Relation, during a luncheon at an Orillia hotel ballroom Wednesday, Fallis joined other multiple-award winners including Eric Nicol, Will Ferguson, Arthur Black and Stuart McLean.

"I am over the moon," said Fallis, who also won the award in 2008 for his self-published debut, The Best Laid Plans.

"I am utterly and literally bowled over and unprepared."

While accepting the award without a prepared speech, Fallis pulled out a colleague’s business card, on which he had scrawled some notes about who to thank when he won the first time.

He said he doesn’t carry the card around to stroke his ego, but rather "as a reminder of my extraordinary good fortune."

Fallis, who was also shortlisted for the award in 2011 and 2013, receives a $15,000 cash prize and the medal, which will be presented during a special dinner in June.

"I really think all roads in my writing life lead back to Orillia," said Fallis, who noted how important humour writing remains today, given the sadness and tragedy that can often strike society and people’s everyday lives.

"We need humour to keep perspective. Humour is a really important part of our literary life. We need more people writing funny words."

This time around, Fallis’s winning entry follows copywriter Earnest Hemmingway, whose name poses only part of the problems he faces.

Other writers shortlisted for this year’s prize each receive $1,500. They are Aaron Bushkowsky, Alan Doyle, Zarqa Nawaz and Robert Wringham, whose entry, like Fallis's first book, is self-published.

Bushkowsky's novel, Curtains for Roy, follows the on- and off-stage drama of live theatre, while Doyle, who is also known as the frontman for Great Big Sea, revisits his Newfoundland roots in his memoir, Where I Belong.

In Laughing All the Way to the Mosque, Nawaz, who wrote for Little Mosque on the Prairie, continues to tell the humorous tales of a Muslim in the West. And, as Wringham notes on his website, A Loose Egg is "a 150-page anthology of refined and beautified diary entries, magazine items and completely new material."

The medal has been awarded since 1947 to honour the "dean of Canadian humorists" and to perpetuate comedic writing in Canada. Some of the country’s best-known writers — Pierre Berton, W.O. Mitchell, Mordecai Richler and Robertson Davies among them — have received the award.

Mike Hill, president of the Stephen Leacock Associates, who administer the award, said the medal remains an important literary achievement.

"It probably leads to a bump in sales," Hill said, noting the awards committee received 73 entries for this year’s award. "There’s a cachet with being nominated and linked to Leacock."

Fallis agreed, pointing out being involved with the award the first time changed his life by leading to a publishing deal and more time on the road promoting his work that included 142 ventures last year. But he said his family and writing remain his priorities.

"I write from the depths of my own experiences," he said. "I’m not a big fan of research. There’s not much I write about that hasn’t happened to me."

A LEACOCK WEEKEND

The Leacock Associates have a number of activities planned for a weekend this summer when Terry Fallis will receive the Leacock Medal for Humour and his $15,000 cash prize, courtesy of TD Financial Group.

JUNE 5

• 6 p.m.: Meet the Medal Winner Spaghetti Dinner at the Leacock Café ($14.95 for association members, $16.95 for non-members)

• 8 p.m.: Medal soirée and student awards at the Leacock Home (free)

JUNE 6

• 1:30 p.m.: Reading and book signing at the Orillia Public Library (free)

• 5 p.m.: Leacock Medal gala dinner at YMCA Geneva Park ($60 for members, $65 for non-members)

JUNE 7

• 9 a.m. to noon: Leacock Medal pancake breakfast at the Leacock Café ($7.50 for members, $8.95 for non-members)

Weekend package and single-event tickets are available. For more information, call 705-329-1908 or visit leacock.ca or leacockmuseum.com.