Dave Barry: Wikis


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David "Dave" Barry

Dave Barry in 2008
Born David Barry
July 3, 1947 (1947-07-03) (age 62)
Armonk, New York
Occupation Humorist
Nationality American
Spouse(s) Ruth (last name unknown) (pre-1976)
Beth Barry (1976-1993)
Michelle Kaufman (1996-)
Children Rob Barry (b. 1980)
Sophie Barry (b. 2000)
Official website

David "Dave" Barry (born July 3, 1947) is a Pulitzer Prize-winning American author and columnist, who wrote a nationally syndicated humor column for the The Miami Herald from 1983 to 2005. He has also written numerous books of humor and parody, as well as comedic novels.



Barry was born in Armonk, New York, where his father—also named David Barry—was a Presbyterian minister. He was educated at Wampus Elementary School, Harold C. Crittenden Junior High School, (both in Armonk), and Pleasantville High School where he was elected "Class Clown" in 1965. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Haverford College in 1969. In his book, Dave Barry's Greatest Hits, he stated that during college he was in a band called "The Federal Duck."

As the son of a minister and an alumnus of a Quaker-affiliated college, Barry avoided military service during the Vietnam War by registering as a religious conscientious objector.[1]

Barry married his second wife, Beth Pyle, in 1976 and they had one child, Robert, in 1980. Barry and Beth worked together at the Daily Local News in West Chester, PA, where they both began their journalism careers on the same day in September, 1971. At the time they started seeing each other, both were married to other people. Barry was in a marriage with his first wife, Ruth, whom he divorced to marry Pyle. Barry and Pyle divorced in 1993. In 1996, Barry married Miami Herald sportswriter Michelle Kaufman; they had a daughter, Sophie, in 2000. All are mentioned regularly in Barry's columns; his divorce was not discussed, though much speculation on the Internet assumed that the two "RayAdverb meets MsPotato" pieces in his Dave Barry in Cyberspace are autobiographical; Barry will neither confirm nor deny, but does post as @RayAdverb on Twitter.

While with the Miami Herald, he created a band with his friends from the Herald, and named it the "Urban Professionals", where he played lead guitar. At the Tupperware Headquarters in Orlando, Florida, he played his hit song, "The Tupperware Song".[2]

He currently plays lead guitar in the band The Rock Bottom Remainders, whose other members include Stephen King, Amy Tan, Ridley Pearson and Mitch Albom.[3]

Journalism career

Barry began his journalism career in 1971, working as a general assignment reporter for the Daily Local News in West Chester, Pennsylvania, located not far from his collegiate alma mater, Haverford College. He covered government and civic events in communities like Downingtown and Coatesville, and was promoted to City Editor after about two years. He also started writing a weekly humor column for the paper, and began to develop his unique style. He remained at the newspaper through 1974. He then worked briefly as a copy editor for The Associated Press at its Philadelphia Bureau before joining Burger Associates, a consulting firm.

At Burger, he taught effective writing to business people. In his own words, he "spent nearly eight years trying to get various businesspersons to ... stop writing things like 'Enclosed please find the enclosed enclosures,' but ... eventually realized that it was hopeless."[4]

In 1981 he wrote a humorous guest column in the Philadelphia Inquirer which attracted the attention of Gene Weingarten, then an editor at Tropic, the Sunday magazine of the Miami Herald in Miami, Florida.

In 1983, Barry was hired by Weingarten as a humor columnist. Barry won a Pulitzer Prize for Commentary in 1988, "for his consistently effective use of humor as a device for presenting fresh insights into serious concerns."[5]

For a 1992 American Booksellers Association convention, several authors including Barry formed a band for charity called The Rock Bottom Remainders ("remainder" is a publishing term for a book that doesn't sell). The members of the band, which has at various times included Stephen King, Amy Tan, Ridley Pearson, Mitch Albom, Kathi Kamen Goldmark, Roy Blount Jr., Barbara Kingsolver and Matt Groening, "are not musically skilled, but they are extremely loud," according to Barry. Several high-profile musicians including Al Kooper, Warren Zevon and Roger McGuinn have performed with the band, and Bruce Springsteen sat in at least once. The band's road tour resulted in the book Mid-Life Confidential: The Rock Bottom Remainders Tour America with Three Chords and an Attitude, which is now out of print.

Barry's first novel, Big Trouble, was made into a motion picture; directed by Barry Sonnenfeld, it starred Tim Allen, Rene Russo and Dave's World alumnus Patrick Warburton, with a cameo by Barry. The movie was originally due for release in September 2001, but was postponed shortly after the September 11, 2001 attacks because the story involved smuggling a nuclear weapon onto an airplane.

Articles written by Barry have appeared in publications such as Boating, Home Office Computing and Reader's Digest, in addition to the Chicken Soup for the Soul inspirational book series. Two of his articles have been included in the Best American Sportswriting series. One of his columns was used as the introduction to the book Pirattitude!: So You Wanna Be a Pirate? Here's How! (ISBN 0-451-21649-0), a follow-up of Barry's hand in creating International Talk Like a Pirate Day. His books have frequently appeared on the New York Times Best Seller List. Barry helps organize the Herald Hunt, formerly the Tropic Hunt, an annual puzzlehunt in Miami.

He has run several mock campaigns for President of the United States, running on a libertarian platform. He has also written for the Libertarian Party's national newsletter.[6]

On October 31, 2004, Dave Barry announced that he would be taking an indefinite leave of absence of at least a year from his weekly humor column with the Herald in order to spend more time with his family. He said that he would continue writing humor and children's books and working on filming the screen adaptation of his book, Dave Barry's Complete Guide to Guys, which was released in 2005; it premiered at several film festivals, and is available on DVD, though a theatrical release seems unlikely. On December 28, 2005, Barry said in an interview with Editor and Publisher that he will not resume his weekly column, although he would continue such features such as his yearly gift guide, year in review, his weblog, as well as an occasional article or column.

Dave's World television series

CBS broadcast the situation comedy Dave's World for four seasons, from 1993 to 1997, based on the books Dave Barry Turns 40 and Dave Barry's Greatest Hits, starring Harry Anderson as Barry, and DeLane Matthews as his wife, Beth. In an early episode, Barry was cast in a cameo role. The program was canceled shortly after being moved from Monday to the "Friday night death slot".


Barry has defined a sense of humor as "a measurement of the extent to which we realize that we are trapped in a world almost totally devoid of reason. Laughter is how we express the anxiety we feel at this knowledge."[7]

When distinguishing fact from hyperbole, Barry frequently asserts: "I am not making this up". Among his favorite topics are exploding or flaming items (cows, whales, vacuum cleaners, toilets, Pop-Tarts, Barbie dolls, etc.), dogs lacking intelligence, live blogging the television series 24, and amusing government studies. He labels various posts on his blog with long acronyms, such as OIYDWYMTTY(NY)G ("or if you don't want your mom to think you're (not 'your') gay") and WBAGNFARB ("would be a good name for a rock band"), poking fun at long internet abbreviations.

He also enjoys making fun of South Florida, where he resides. In Dave Barry Hits Below the Beltway, he suggested that many of America's problems could be solved if South Florida were literally sawed off from the mainland and disowned by the United States. He also has made fun of the region in Homes and Other Black Holes as well as other books of his. Even his novels, Big Trouble and Tricky Business, capitalize heavily in the absurdities that exist only in South Florida. In Big Trouble, for example, the ridiculous nuances of South Florida are expressed through the experiences of the two hit men, Henry and Leonard. They experience an irritating sports talk show host and a highly incompetent airport security detail before deciding that they never want to return to Florida again. Barry also uses Big Trouble to poke fun at the existence of a Russian arms black market, the corrupt political system (Puggy makes a living off being paid to vote), and the incredibly loose labor laws in the region.

The phrase "would be a good name for a rock band" is an observation Barry often applies to phrases that pop up in his writing, such as "The Moos of Derision",[8] "Decomposing Tubers"[9] and "Hearty Polyp Chuckles".[10] In keeping with this, Barry's website contains a fairly sizable list of phrases that he claims would be good names for a rock band.[11]

In his humor books, Barry often cites a humorous phrase or image, which he then mercilessly repeats throughout. Notable examples include the Hawley-Smoot Tariff in Dave Barry Slept Here: A Sort of History of the United States, Buffalo Bob in Dave Barry Turns 50, and giant prehistoric zucchini in Dave Barry Hits Below the Beltway. He continues to reference these things, occasionally with fake subtlety (e.g., "The H*****-S**** T*****").

His novels typically feature numerous initially unrelated subplots, many related to criminal activity, which slowly intertwine over the course of the story. Many critics explicitly compare this style to that of Elmore Leonard, though with a more comedic tone.[citation needed]

Religious views

Barry is the son of a Presbyterian minister, and decided "early on" that he was an atheist.[12] He said "the problem with writing about religion is that you run the risk of offending sincerely religious people, and then they come after you with machetes."[12]




  • Big Trouble (2002)
  • Dave Barry's Complete Guide to Guys (2005)



  • The Taming of the Screw (1983)
  • Babies and Other Hazards of Sex: How to Make a Tiny Person in Only 9 Months With Tools You Probably Have Around the Home (1984)
  • Stay Fit and Healthy Until You're Dead (1985)
  • Claw Your Way to the Top: How to Become the Head of a Major Corporation in Roughly a Week (1986)
  • Dave Barry's Guide to Marriage and/or Sex (1987)
  • Homes and Other Black Holes (1988)
  • Dave Barry Slept Here: A Sort of History of the United States (1989)
  • Dave Barry Turns 40 (1990)
  • Dave Barry's Only Travel Guide You'll Ever Need (1991)
  • Dave Barry's Guide to Life (1991) includes Dave Barry's Guide to Marriage and/or Sex, Babies and Other Hazards of Sex, The Taming of the Screw and Claw Your Way to the Top
  • Dave Barry Does Japan (1992)
  • Dave Barry's Gift Guide to End All Gift Guides (1994)
  • Dave Barry's Complete Guide to Guys (1996)
  • Dave Barry in Cyberspace (1996)
  • Dave Barry's Book of Bad Songs (1997)
  • Dave Barry Turns 50 (1998)
  • Dave Barry Hits Below the Beltway: A Vicious and Unprovoked Attack on Our Most Cherished Political Institutions (2001)
  • "My Teenage Son's Goal in Life is to Make Me Feel 3,500 Years Old" and Other Thoughts On Parenting From Dave Barry (2001)
  • "The Greatest Invention In The History Of Mankind Is Beer" And Other Manly Insights From Dave Barry (2001)
  • Dave Barry's Money Secrets (2006)
  • Dave Barry on Dads (2007)
  • Dave Barry's History of the Millennium (So Far) (2007)

Collected columns

  • Dave Barry's Bad Habits: A 100% Fact-Free Book (1987)
  • Dave Barry's Greatest Hits (1988)
  • Dave Barry Talks Back (1991)
  • The World According to Dave Barry (1994) includes Dave Barry Talks Back and Dave Barry's Greatest Hits
  • Dave Barry is NOT Making This Up (1995)
  • Dave Barry Is from Mars and Venus (1997)
  • Dave Barry Is Not Taking This Sitting Down (2000)
  • Dave Barry: Boogers Are My Beat (2003)


Audio recordings

  • A Totally Random Evening With Dave Barry (1992)

See also


External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Dave Barry (born July 3, 1947) is a bestselling American author and Pulitzer Prize-winning humorist.

  • I am not making this up.
    • Source: various



Columns and articles

  • A sense of humor is a measurement of the extent to which we realize that we are trapped in a world almost totally devoid of reason. Laughter is how we express the anxiety we feel at this knowledge.[1]
  • The problem is, when Oprah lost all that weight, her head didn't get any smaller. And so she looks kind of like a person carrying a balloon.
    • Playboy interview, May 1990
  • But I do think we need to explore the commitment problem, which has caused many women to mistakenly conclude that men, as a group, have the emotional maturity of hamsters . This is not the case. A hamster is MUCH more capable of making a lasting commitment to a woman, especially if she gives it those little food pellets. Whereas a guy, in a relationship, will consume the pellets of companionship, and he will run on the exercise wheel of lust; but as soon as he senses that the door of commitment is about to close and trap him in the wire cage of true intimacy, he'll squirm out, scamper across the kitchen floor of uncertainty and hide under the refrigerator of Non-Readiness.
    • Column, August 18, 1991
  • I think Superman should go on the Larry King show and announce that he would come back to life if people in all 50 states wanted him to.
  • As a child, I was more afraid of tetanus shots than, for example, Dracula.
    • Column, The Miami Herald, 21 January 1996
  • It is a scientific fact that your body will not absorb cholesterol if you take it from another person's plate.
    • "The Funny Side of 'Beowulf'", The Miami Herald, November 2, 1997.
  • What, exactly, is the Internet? Basically it is a global network exchanging digitized data in such a way that any computer, anywhere, that is equipped with a device called a "modem" can make a noise like a duck choking on a kazoo.
  • Of course it’s possible that there really ISN’T any shadow government. The whole thing could be a phony story that was fed to The Washington Post to mislead our enemies. As you recall, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld recently admitted that the Pentagon had set up an office-officially named "The Office of Disinformation"-that was supposed to put out false statements to the media, thus throwing our enemies off the track. For example, if we were getting ready to attack Iraq, officials of the Office of Disinformation would hold a press conference and state: "Well, we’re certainly not going to attack Iraq!" The news media would report this, and Iraq would relax. France, meanwhile, would surrender.
    • Column for week of April 15, 2002
  • But this should serve as a reminder to brides of the importance of discouraging reception guests from discharging their firearms unless they have a good reason, such as the band vocalist attempting to perform "I Will Always Love You" in the official Whitney Houston Diarrhea of the Vowels version ("And IIIIIIeeeeeIIIIIIIII, will alwaaaaays love yoooooeeeeeeeooooooouuuuueeeeeeeeeoooooo" BANG)
    • The Miami Herald, 2 April 2004

The Taming of the Screw (1983)

  • The only really good place to buy lumber is at a store where the lumber has already been cut and attached together in the form of furniture, finished, and put inside boxes.
  • Electricity is actually made up of extremely tiny particles called electrons, that you cannot see with the naked eye unless you have been drinking.

Stay Fit and Healthy Until You're Dead (1985)

  • Although golf was originally restricted to wealthy, overweight Protestants, today it's open to anybody who owns hideous clothing.

Dave Barry Slept Here: A Sort of History of the United States (1989)

  • The first major president to be elected after the War of 1812 was President Monroe Doctrine, who became famous by developing the policy for which he is named. This policy, which is still in effect today, states that:
    1. Other nations are not allowed to mess around with the internal affairs of nations in this hemisphere.
    2. But we are.
    3. Ha-ha-ha.

Dave Barry Turns 40 (1990)

  • Without question, the greatest invention in the history of mankind is beer. Oh, I grant you that the wheel was also a fine invention, but the wheel does not go nearly as well with pizza.

Dave Barry's Only Travel Guide You'll Ever Need (1991)

  • We travel because, no matter how comfortable we are at home, there's a part of us that wants - that needs - to see new vistas, take new tours, obtain new traveler's checks, buy new souvenirs, order new entrees, introduce new bacteria into our intestinal tracts, learn new words for "transfusion," and have all the other travel adventures that make us want to french-kiss our doormats when we finally get home.
  • I took an estimated two thousand years of high school French, and when I finally got to France, I discovered that I didn't know one single phrase that was actually useful in a real-life French situation.
  • What Dad means by "see" of course, is "drive past at 67 miles per hour." Dad feels it is a foolish waste of valuable vacation time to get out of the car and actually go look at an attraction.
  • During the warm season (August 8 and 9), Maine is a true "vacation paradise," offering visitors a chance to jump into crystal-clear mountain lakes and see if they can get back out again before their bodily tissue is frozen as solid as a supermarket turkey.
  • But Nebraska was not always a bed of roses. When the first settlers arrived, they found a harsh, unforgiving place, a vast treeless expanse of barren, drought-parched soil. And so, summoning up the dynamic pioneer spirit of hope and steely determination, they left. But a few of them remained and built sod houses, which are actually made of dirt. Think about that. You can't clean a sod house, because it would be gone. The early settlers had a hell of a time getting this through to their children. "You kids stop tracking dirt out of the house!" they'd yell.
  • Vermont: See New Hampshire
  • Denmark (also called "Norway") is best known as the original home of the prune Danish as well as the Vikings, who wore hats with horns sticking out of them, and for a very good reason: they were insane.
  • Ha ha! We are just poking a little friendly fun at Germany, which is famous for enjoying a good joke, or as the Germans say, "Sprechnehaltenzoltenfussenmachschnitzerkalbenrollen." Here is just one hilarious example of what we are talking about:
First German: How many Polish people does it take to screw in a light bulb?
Second German: I don't know! How many?
First German: Let's invade Poland and find out!
Millions of Other Germans: Okay!

Dave Barry Does Japan (1992)

  • The best way to learn Japanese is to be born as a Japanese baby, in Japan, raised by a Japanese family.

Dave Barry in Cyberspace (1996)

  • Buying the right computer and getting it to work properly is no more complicated than building a nuclear reactor from wristwatch parts in a darkened room using only your teeth.

Dave Barry Hits Below the Beltway (2001)

  • When I purchase a food item at the supermarket, I can be confident that the label will state how much riboflavin is in it. The United States government requires this, and for a good reason, which is: I have no idea. I don't even know what riboflavin is. I do know I eat a lot of it. For example, I often start the day with a hearty Kellogg's strawberry Pop-Tart, which has, according to the label, a riboflavin rating of 10 percent. I assume this means that 10 percent of the Pop-Tart is riboflavin. Maybe it's the red stuff in the middle. Anyway, I'm hoping riboflavin is a good thing; if it turns out that it's a bad thing, like "riboflavin" is the Latin word for "cockroach pus," then I am definitely in trouble.
  • The Constitution of the United States of America, Article V, Section 1: "There shall be a National Anthem containing incomprehensible words and a high note that normal humans cannot hit without risk of hernia."
  • But when it came to eloquence, George [H. W.] Bush was Winston Churchill compared with his vice president, the legendary J. Danforth Quayle. You never knew what Dan was going to say next, and the wonderful thing was, Dan clearly didn't know either. He'd be asked a question, and he'd start talking, and you could see in his eyes that he was thinking, Ohmigod I'm talking and I HAVE NO EARTHLY IDEA WHAT I'M TRYING TO SAY! I DON'T EVEN KNOW WHAT I'M SAYING RIGHT NOW!
  • A lot of people were very upset, especially people in Palm Beach County, who were saying that they had accidentally voted for Pat Buchanan, which was clearly a mistake. Even Pat Buchanan admitted this.
    "You'd have to be nuts to vote for me!" he declared. "Hell, I didn't even vote for me!"
  • [Gary] Hart was clearly the most attractive candidate, the only one with even a remote chance of beating Ronald Reagan, so naturally the Democrats selected: Walter Mondale. When Mondale accepted the nomination, he wooed the voter by informing them...that if they elected him as president, his first move would be to jack up their income taxes. Walter you sweet talker!
  • What was life like in the colonies? Probably the best word to describe it would be "colonial".

Dave Barry's History of the Millennium (So Far) (2007)

  • U.S. News Organizations observe the anniversary of September 11 with investigations about the nation's continuing vulnerability to terrorism. First, the New York Daily News reports that two of its reporters carried box cutters, razor knives, and pepper spray on fourteen commerical flights without getting caught. Then ABC News reports that it smuggled fifteen pounds of uranium into New York City. Then Fox News reports that it flew Osama bin Laden to Washington, D.C., and videotaped him touring the White House.
  • In sports, Vijay Singh wins the Masters golf tournament and is awarded the coveted green jacket, which is quickly snatched away by angry Buick executives and given to Tiger Woods.
  • In sports, the U.S. Open is not actually held because it's more efficient just to mail the check to Tiger Woods.
  • Tiger Woods is kidnapped by rival golfers, sedated, handcuffed, placed in a straitjacket, wrapped in chains, and locked inside a trunk, which is then weighted with concrete blocks and dropped into the deepest part of the Pacific Ocean. He easily wins the PGA Championship.


  1. Originally published in "Encyclopedia Tropicana: A Reference Book for the Modern World, Volume 1" by Joel Achenbach, The Miami Herald, May 4, 1986; quoted by Bryan Curtis, "Dave Barry: Elegy for the humorist," Slate, January 12, 2005

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