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Humorist - Dave Barry MAG
Dave Barry is a best-selling humor columnist who has written over 20 books and won a Pulitzer Prize. He is one of my favorite writers. Here, Dave discusses being a guy, eating a cricket, and librarian groupies.
You’ve lived in Miami a long time.
Yeah, I’ve lived here since a supreme 1986.
If you could make a new slogan for Miami, what would it be?
My slogan for years has been: “Come back to Miami - we weren’t shooting at you. ”
That’s a good one.
I think they should make bumper stickers out of it. You could do bumper stickers, t-shirts ...
Do you remember what your wrote your first column about?
You mean way back in high school? Well, I wrote about a football game that never actually happened. It was really a bunch of high schoolers just going out and drinking beer, but there was a football involved, and I wrote it as an actual sporting event for the high-school paper.
Not that I approve of that at all, of course not.
You’ve written tons of books, over 20. Which is your favorite?
I don’t really have a favorite. I’m always writing new books so I don’t dwell on the ones I’ve already done. I think that’s a habit from being a newspaper guy because you’re always writing columns and you can’t reflect on the ones you’ve already done.
Are you working on a book at the moment?
I’m working on a children’s book with a friend of mine. It’s kind of Harry Potter-level. It has to do with Peter Pan, quite a departure from stuff I’ve written.
That seems very different. You have two children, what is the biggest difference between being an old parent and a young parent?
They’re quite far apart in age, one is four and one is 23. The difference hasn’t really been my age, the difference is that one’s a boy and one’s a girl. They’re nothing alike, nothing. The thing is, girls are little human beings, while guys are well, guys.
You wrote The Complete Guide to Guys, so what is the hardest thing about being a guy?
The hardest thing is that women don’t accept that we really are just pathetic, labrador retriever-like creatures and that we live in a world where women actually expect us to think thoughtful thoughts and have real emotions, which we don’t. That’s the hardest part. In other words, trying to live up to the imaginary ideal that women have of what men are, instead of us just being what we are, which is just a pathetic creature.
Good point. You do book tours a lot. Are there book tour groupies?
No, authors don’t usually get groupies the way rock stars do, which may be a good thing . . . I don’t know. The closest would be, like, librarians.
That’s good though . . .
No, you wouldn’t want a librarian.
I saw you on tour once and you’ve got a massive following. It’s crazy.
People do come out, and that’s always nice. I’m happy about that.
It seems like your writing is able to cross over. What is your mass appeal?
I get letters from young people and old people and people in the middle, and that’s always been a nice thing. People must have something of the same sense of humor, and it’s not like I’m writing deep thoughts. It’s not intellectual. You don’t have to think really hard to get the joke. I think humor in general appeals to all people.
You’re in a rock band (The Rock Bottom Remainders) with other authors including Stephen King and Amy Tan. How did that start?
It was meant to be a random, one-time thing. There was a booksellers convention in California and somebody thought it would be fun to get together a band of authors who had been in a band or were interested in being in one. We were only going to play that onetime in 1992, but we had so much fun that we did it again, and again. We’re still doing it 14 years later.
Who is the best musician in the band?
That probably be a three-way tie between Mitch Albom, who wrote Tuesdays with Morrie, he’s a great guitar player; Ridley Pearson, the bass player and the guy I’m writing the children’s book with, and a guy named Greg Isles. He writes novels as well, he’s a really good guitar player. They are the three best author-musicians.
Which of your columns has generated the most hate mail?
I got some really angry mail when I made fun of telemarketers. Most of the mail was extremely positive, but the telemarketers were not at all happy. I also got very angry mail when I made fun of Barry Manilow. Don’t make fun of Barry Manilow. Well, I do it anyway, ’cause it’s fun. Likewise, Neil Diamond. People don’t like it when you make fun of a celebrity. When you make fun of a celebrity, you’ll hear from really loyal fans of that celebrity.
Your Bad Song Survey received a massive response. What do you think is the worst song?
A song called “Honey, ” which no one ever played anyway. I’ve always hated that song “Seasons in the Sun, ” always hated the song. And “My Way. ” I really hate that song a lot.
Now you’ll make all the Sinatra fans angry.
That’s too bad.
You wrote Dave Barry’s Only Travel Guide You’ll Ever Need. What’s been your craziest travel experience?
It once took me 23 hours to fly from Miami to Salt Lake City. Probably 14 of those hours were spent on the runway in Dallas-Fort Worth, which apparently never had snow before. They didn’t even know what to do about it, didn’t even know what it was. They had to send out for chemists, “What’s this white stuff coming down? Just stop all the planes where they are on the runway. ”
What’s been your worst moment in a foreign country?
I was confronted with some scary food in Japan. I ate a cricket not knowing it was a cricket. I think they just make up the food as jokes and feed it to tourists.
What’s the worst tourist attraction you’ve been to?
A little place called the Blue Grotto on the Isle of Capri in Italy. It’s just a dank cave that smells like body odor. You have to wait for hours, pitching up and down in little boats with people barfing all over the place. All the guidebooks say it’s supposed to have this mysterious blue glow, but all it is is B.O. I would strongly advise against it.
Do you have any hobbies?
Well, I play the guitar. Not well, but I’ve played it for a long time without getting any better ... which is not easy.