Friday, May 01, 2009

Never Shoot a Leacock Medal Winner

Mark Leiren-Young has been awarded this year’s Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour. The award, which brings a $15,000 cash prize, is one of Canada’s most prestigious as well as richest literary awards.

The Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour has been awarded since 1947 “as a means to honour the dean of Canadian humourists and to perpetuate humorous writing in Canada.”

Vancouver filmmaker and journalist Leiren-Young wins for his first book, Never Shoot A Stampede Queen. The author has recently been in the news as the writer and director of The Green Chain, a film that has been picking up steam on the festival circuit. He told January Magazine that he’s delighted to have won what he feels is “the coolest writing honour in Canada.”

“When I was a kid,” says the author, “one of my heroes was Eric Nicol. Almost every Canadian writer I admire has either won a Leacock Medal or been nominated for one. I can’t believe the company I’m keeping. As a writer who loves to make people laugh, I feel like I just won the Stanley Cup.”

As Leiren-Young points out, over the years, some of Canada’s best known authors have received the award, including Pierre Berton, Will Ferguson, Ian Ferguson, W.O. Mitchell, Bill Richardson, Mordecai Richler and Robertson Davies. When he discovered he had joined their company, Leiren-Young reports he spent the balance of the day walking around saying, “‘wow’ and ‘oh my God’ so many times that I sound like a teenage girl... with a very deep voice.”

Also nominated for this year’s Leacock Award: Kill All the Judges, by William Deverell (McClelland & Stewart); Kiss the Joy As It Flies, by Sheree Fitch (Vagrant Press); Uproar, by Jack MacLeod (The Porcupine’s Quill); In the Land of the Long Fingernails, by Charles Wilkins (Viking Canada).



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