Dave Barry Interview
The Life of
Dave Barry is a best selling humor columnist. He has written over twenty books and is a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist. I’ve been a fan of his work since third grade, and he is one of my favorite writers of all time. His column appears every Sunday in the Star Magazine section of the Kansas City Star. In the following interview, Dave discusses boxing Barry Manilow, eating a cricket and librarian groupies.
You’ve lived in Miami a long time.
Dave Barry: Yeah, I’ve lived in Miami since 1986.
If you could make a new slogan for Miami, what would it be?
Dave Barry: My slogan for years has been: “Come back to Miami, we weren’t shooting at you.”
That’s a good one.
Dave Barry: I think they should make bumper stickers out of it.
You could do bumper stickers, t-shirts…
Dave Barry: They had bumper stickers that had bullet holes in them.
Do you remember what your wrote your first column about?
Dave Barry: You mean going back to high school?
Dave Barry: 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 in the high school paper.
Well, that’s good.
Dave Barry: Not that I approve of that at all, of course not.
You’ve written tons of books, at least fifteen to twenty.
Dave Barry: Over twenty.
Out of all of the books you’ve written which is your favorite?
Dave Barry: I don’t really have a favorite. When you are a writer, you’re always writing new books, so I really don’t dwell on the ones I’ve already done. I think that’s a habit of being a newspaper guy, because you’re always writing columns, more columns, and you can’t really reflect on the ones you’ve already done.
Are you working on any new books at the moment?
Dave Barry: I’m working on a children’s book with a friend of mine, another writer. It’s kind of young adult, kind of Harry Potter-level. It has to do with Peter Pan; it’s quite a departure from stuff I’ve written.
That seems very different. You have two kids, what is the biggest difference between being an old parent and a young parent?
Dave Barry: They’re quite far apart in age, one is four, and one is twenty-three. 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”, what is the hardest thing about being a guy?
Dave Barry: The hardest thing is that women don’t accept that you really are just a simple, pathetic, labrador retriever-like creature. That we live in a world were women actually expect you to think thoughtful thoughts, and have real emotions, which we don’t have. That’s the hardest part. In other words, having to try to live up to the imaginary ideal that women have of what men are, instead of just being what you are, which is just a pathetic creature, but still.
Good point. You do book tours a lot, are their book tour groupies?
Dave Barry: 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…
Dave Barry: No, you wouldn’t want a librarian.
I saw you at a book tour one time, and you’ve got a massive following…It’s crazy.
Dave Barry: People do come out, and that’s always nice. I’m happy about that.
It seems like your writing is really able to cross over. What do you think is your mass appeal?
Dave Barry: It’s nice, 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 people.
You’re actually in a rock band (The Rock Bottom Remainders) with other famous authors (including Stephan King). How did that start?
Dave Barry: It was meant to be a random, one time thing. There was a bookseller convention in California, and somebody thought it would be fun to get together a band of authors who had been in rock bands or were interested in being in a band, and formed this group. We were only going to play just that one time, and we had so much fun, this was in 1992, that we did it again, and again. We’re still doing it fourteen years later.
Who is the best musician in the band?
Dave Barry: That probably be a three way tie between Mitch Albom, who wrote Tuesdays with Morrie, is a great guitar player; Ridley Pearson, who is the bass player, who is 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.
You get a lot of column ideas from your readers. What’s the craziest column idea anyone has sent you?
Dave Barry: I really wouldn’t be able to answer that. I get so many thousands, and thousands of letters. I incorporate lots of them into columns. I really wouldn’t even know where to start to answer that.
Which of your columns has generated the most hate mail?
Dave Barry: 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’ve gotten 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, there’s going to be really loyal fans of that celebrity.
Your Bad Song Survey (Dave Barry’s Book of Bad Songs) received a massive response. What do you think is the worst song?
Dave Barry: A song called “Honey”, which no one ever played anyway. I’ve always hated the song “Seasons in the Sun”, always hated the song “My Way”. I really hate that song a lot.
Now you’ll get all of the Sinatra fans angry.
Dave Barry: That’s too bad.
You wrote a travel guide (Dave Barry’s Only Travel Guide You’ll Ever Need), what’s been your craziest travel experience?
Dave Barry: It once took me twenty-three hours to get from Miami to Salt Lake City by plane. Probably fourteen 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 of the planes were they are on the runway.”
What’s been your worst moment in a foreign country?
Dave Barry: I was confronted with some scary food in Japan. I ate a cricket; not knowing it was a cricket. They get to where they just make up the food as jokes and feed them to tourists.
What’s the worst tourist attraction you’ve been to?
Dave Barry: A little place called the Blue Grotto on the Isle of Capri, in Italy. It’s just a dank cave that smells like B.O. You have to wait for hours, pitching up and down in these little boats, people barfing all over the place. All of the guidebooks say it’s supposed to have this mysterious blue glow, but all it is is B.O. I would advise strongly against it.
Do you have any hobbies?
Dave Barry: Well, I play the guitar. Not well, but I’ve played it for a long time without getting any better…Which is not easy.
If you could face anyone in Celebrity Boxing who would it be?
Dave Barry: I would go with Martha Stewart. Wait no; she would kill me. I’d have to go with Barry Manilow.
Do you think you could knock him down?
Dave Barry: I could take Barry.
You heard it here first.
What is the worst section of the Sunday paper?
Dave Barry: Any section that’s not running my column.
For more info on Dave please visit his website: www.davebarry.com