Sunset Resident Wins Residency at Erma Bombeck School of Humor

By Judith Kahn


Samantha Schoech is a humorist writer who won the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop

Award on Dec. 4, 2017.


The University of Dayton’s Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop was launched in 2000

as a way to preserve the legacy of one of the “greatest humorists of our times” and one of

the University of Dayton’s most well-known alumnus.



 Samantha Schoech, a 19-year resident of the Sunset District, has fun at Ocean Beach. Schoech recently won an award at the Erma Bombeck/Anna Lefler Humorist-in-Residence Program, which gives a creative boost to writers who do not have the benefit of a milestone achievement, such as a traditional book deal or sold script. Photos: Philip Labor Gangi.


The workshop is offered every other spring and always sells out. The upcoming April 5-7,

2018 workshop sold out in less than five hours, with writers journeying to Dayton, Ohio,

from all parts of the country, Canada and Spain.


This is the first year for the writer’s residency – The Erma Bombeck/Anna Lefler

Humorist-in-Residence Program attracted 401 applications from six countries.


Schoech has not yet performed stand-up comedy before a large crowd, but she has given

many live humorist readings, and her essays have appeared in several humor

anthologies, including this year’s “Best Women Travel Writing” (Travelers

Tales).  Over the years she has given readings in bars and bookstores in support of the

books, and she also read during Lit. Quake’s Lit Crawl on several occasions. She also

participated in the “Literary Death Match” held in San Francisco.


Schoech is currently working on a book of essays, tentatively titled “People Really

Like Me,” which covers adulthood’s greatest hits: dating, infertility, bad decisions,

marriage, children and minivans. She feels that humor writing gives her a true voice.


Schoech is a native San Franciscan who was born at UC San Francisco but grew up

mostly in Sonoma and Marin counties. She moved back to San Francisco in 1996 after

completing graduate school at UC Davis, where she received an MA in English and

creative writing.


SB_Samantha_Inside_Jan2007 copy

 Samantha Schoech g i ves her 11-y ear-o l d d aug hter M agn olia
Mu lvihill a hug on Oc ean Beach . The Cliff House R es taurant is
in t he background.


For her undergraduate work, she attended Lewis & Clark College, where she studied

English and political science.


She has lived in the Sunset District since 1999.


Schoech says she derived her humor from  her family and from reading humorist essays.

Her maternal grandmother was a Jewish immigrant from the Ukraine who had a great

sense of humor and loved language, as well as having a playful way with words,

combining English and Yiddish. She said everyone on her father’s side is funny too,

especially her aunts and cousins, who all share quick wit and a self-deprecating

sense of humor.


Schoech admires many writers and comedians, in particular Aziz Ansari, Trevor Noah,

Tina Fey and David Sedaris. She loves to read works by Sedaris, one of America’s

preeminent humor writers, who is considered to be a master of satire and one of the

most observant writers addressing the human condition today.


Sederis was the first writer that truly made Samantha laugh uncontrollably.


“His subject matter is mostly just his upbringing and every day life but he is so honest

and has such an amazing ability to create living, breathing characters out of the people

he knows and meets,” Schoech said. “He’s biting but not cruel, self deprecating

but not falsely modest.”


Schoech loves Sedaris’ ability to see the absurd in every day situations. She said she is

especially grateful to political humorists at this time because she “has a hard

time seeing anything funny about our current political climate.”


“They can make me laugh by shining a light on the ridiculous when I’d otherwise feel

despondent,” she said.


Schoech believes the best humor writing can shine a light on essential truths and give

the reader an opportunity to make sense of human nature.


“It is first and foremost entertaining, but it’s best when it’s also thoughtful, smart and has

some heart,” she says.


Schoech loves to travel, including to her favorite place, Yelapa, in Mexico, a timeless

seaside village about 45 minutes by boat from Puerto Vallarta. She has been going there

since 1978, when she was child.


“In this carless village, donkeys still serve as cargo trucks, sunshine and roosters are the

only alarm clocks and life’s major decisions are of the snorkeling or siesta variety,”

she said.


For more information, visit the website at

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