Author David Rakoff (RAY'-kawf) has made the judges smile with his essay collection "Half Empty."

Rakoff won the Thurber Prize for American Humor on Monday night.

Rakoff has written for The New York Times, Newsweek and other publications. He'll receive $5,000.

The other finalists were Mike Birbiglia (bur-BIG'-lee-uh) for "Sleepwalk with Me and Other Painfully True Stories" and Rick Reilly for "Sports from Hell."

The award is named for humorist James Thurber, who was known for the short stories and cartoons he contributed to The New Yorker magazine. It first was presented in 1997.

Previous winners include Comedy Central host Jon Stewart and humorist David Sedaris.

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