Seth Brown | The Pun Also Rises: 'Have you given award lately?'

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The weekend of Feb. 8 had two big award shows going on. One of them was very exciting, and I couldn't wait to see who won. The other one was the Oscars.

I haven't watched the Oscars since 2011, when I was hired to provide live entertainment for an Oscar party. You missed out on such gems as an old west gunfight over porridge and oatmeal where the gunslinger demanded True Grits. Come to think of it, I was never hired for another Oscar party.

Anyway, this year the best picture winner was a film about a family living in the basements of the Louvre and Eiffel Tower, called "Parisite." This narrowly defeated a documentary about our 38th president's squabble with the vice presidential candidate from the opposing party who shared his first name, "Ford vs. Ferraro." Other nominees included the origin story of a homicidal maniac who inspired a young boy, "Joker Rabbit," and a sequel to "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids called Little Women." (It didn't win an award, but I hear Rick Moranis is already at work on the next sequel.)

Many have called the Oscars a bunch of self-congratulatory nonsense, so I wasn't watching those awards. I was watching the New England Newspaper and Press Association awards, which might also be self-congratulatory, but more important for me, could be Seth-congratulatory. I ended up winning 2nd place (aka "the first loser") for Best Humor Columnist, and the newspaper in which you are reading this won some other awards, as well.

As my partner said when I won, "Awards are silly and pointless, until you win one." Certainly it's true that the younger generation gets made fun of for everyone winning an award. But I remember being in elementary school: Some of us won awards, and most of the other kids didn't care unless the award came with a free personal pan pizza. It was the parents who insisted that everyone win an award to avoid being unfair.

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We kids, meanwhile, just wanted to play games and eat junk food and not have more homework. Cleaning out my old room at my parents' house, my awards were the first things to be thrown away. Awards weren't giving us a vacation, or more candy; it was just giving us recognition. I didn't feel like I needed much extra recognition growing up, as my parents were already celebrating my accomplishments (offer may not be valid in all states; see your parents for details.).

As it turns out, once you're out on your own, recognition is a lot harder to come by. The same accomplishment that gets you a school celebration in eighth grade won't even get you a thumbs up by 38. Most adults feel underappreciated at their jobs, and many feel underappreciated in their personal lives, as well. We can afford our own pizzas, but recognition is in short supply.

The other week, I ran into a friend who has done a lot of great work making our town a better place, and she was dispirited that her efforts seem to have gone mostly unnoticed. But when she got a Neighborly Award from the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition, she was happy to finally be recognized. I salute the NBCC for giving some much-needed recognition to the people who make our community better.

We all want to feel like our work is appreciated. And I can't nominate everyone for an NBCC award. But I do appreciate you for reading my column, which is why I have created the world's first-ever (according to Google) Valued Humor Reader Award, which I hereby present to you in recognition of reading my column:

After a week, I thought I'd stop talking about my award. After all, an "award" plus a "wk" is awkward, and I don't need to impress anyone. But then I tried to pitch my next book to agents, and I apparently wasn't impressive enough. So until I land an agent, my award-winning status stays in my tagline.

Seth Brown is an award-winning humor writer, and you are now an award-winning humor reader. Seems fair, right? His website is


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