A former three-time winner, as well as a Giller Prize nominee, are on the shortlist for this year's Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for Humour in Canadian literature.

The shortlist was announced today in Orillia, Ont., where five national judges and 'a small committee of readers' will select the winner on April 24.

The Leacock Medal dates back to 1947, with past winners including Pierre Berton, Robertson Davies and Mordecai Richler. The award is named for Orillia humourist Stephen Leacock, author of Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town.  

The medal had previously been criticized for relatively few women winners over its 77-year history. Last year, though, Saskatchewan-based writer Cassie Stocks won the medal for her debut novel, Dance, Gladys, Dance.

Arthur Black Fifty Shades Leacock Medal

Arthur Black, three-time winner of the Leacock Medal for humour, is shortlisted this year with Fifty Shades of Black. (Douglas & McIntyre)

Arthur Black, who has been nominated this year for his book Fifty Shades of Black, won the award three times prior: 1997, 2000 and 2006.

Other shortlisted authors include Wayne Johnston, a multiple-time finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and the Governor General's Award for fiction, and Steve Smith, better known for his comedic on-screen, turbo-Canadian persona Red Green.

The winner of the prize will be awarded with $15,000 as well as a silver Leacock Memorial Medal. All four runners-up will also be given a cash prize.

The full list of the Leacock Medal's shortlist:

  • Fifty Shades of Black, by Arthur Black
  • And Then There Were Nuns: Adventures in a Cloistered Life, by Jane Christmas
  • The Promised Land, by Bill Conall
  • The Son of a Certain Woman, by Wayne Johnston
  • Red Green's Beginner's Guide to Women, by Steve Smith