Dave Barry

Dave Barry
David "Dave" Barry

Dave Barry at the 2011 Washington Post Hunt
Born David Barry
July 3, 1947 (1947-07-03) (age 64)
Armonk, New York
Occupation Humorist
Nationality American
Spouse(s) Ann Shelnutt (approx. 1970-before 1976)
Beth Barry (1976-1993)
Michelle Kaufman (1996-)
Children Rob Barry (b. 1980)
Sophie Barry (b. 2000)


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 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 and 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 first wife, Beth Lenox, 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 began their journalism careers on the same day in September, 1971. Barry and Lenox divorced in 1993. In 1996, Barry married Miami Herald sportswriter Michelle Kaufman; they had a daughter, Sophie, in 2000. He has had dogs named Earnest, Zippy, and now Lucy. 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 MsPtato" 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 colleagues 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, Scott Turow, his brother Sam Barry, his sister-in-law Kathi Kamen Goldmark, and Mitch Albom.[3]

Journalism career

Dave 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.

In 2002, Barry poked fun at the city of Grand Forks, North Dakota; the city responded by naming a sewage pumping station after him. Barry was a good sport and appeared in Grand Forks for the dedication.[6]

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.[7]

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 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". Dave Barry also was on David Letterman’s show where he had set a pair of men's underwear on fire with a Barbie doll.


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."[8]

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",[9] "Decomposing Tubers"[10] and "Hearty Polyp Chuckles".[11] 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.[12]

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.[13]

Religious views

Barry is the son of a Presbyterian minister, and decided "early on" that he was an atheist.[14] 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."[14] In I'll Mature When I'm Dead, Barry describes himself as non-religious but describes attending synagogue with his Jewish wife.



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



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

Book collection.jpg Novels portal


  1. ^ Dave Barry: Encyclopedia - Dave Barry
  2. ^ Barry, Dave. Dave Barry's Greatest Hits, p. 110
  3. ^ About Dave (BIO/FAQ)
  4. ^ "1999 Dave Barry Biography". http://www.davebarry.com/bioold.htm. Retrieved 2007-05-06. 
  5. ^ "Pulitzer Prize Winners 1988". http://www.pulitzer.org/awards/1988. Retrieved 2007-05-06. 
  6. ^ Idling in the grand cities - Dave Barry - MiamiHerald.com
  7. ^ [dead link] Presidency 2000:The Independent, Write-In, and other Candidates, Politics1.com
  8. ^ Curtis, Bryan. "An elegy for Dave Barry". http://www.slate.com/id/2112218/. Retrieved 2007-06-03. 
  9. ^ Barry, Dave (2002-11-24). "Pouch Potatoes". The Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn?pagename=article&node=&contentId=A11787-2002Nov19. Retrieved 2007-05-06. 
  10. ^ Barry, Dave. "Keeping an eye on crime". http://jewishworldreview.com/dave/barry082806.php3. Retrieved 2007-05-06. 
  11. ^ Barry, Dave. "A sun, surf and sand castle safari". Archived from the original on 2007-10-23. http://web.archive.org/web/20071023171648/http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4196/is_20030119/ai_n10846206. Retrieved 2007-05-06. 
  12. ^ "A GOOD NAME FOR A ROCK BAND?". http://www.davebarry.com/rockbandlist.html. Retrieved 2007-05-06. 
  13. ^ See,for example, Sharp MD. Popular Contemporary Writers. Marshall Cavendish, 2006, ISBN 0761476016, p. 182
  14. ^ a b Huberman, Jack (2007). The Quotable Atheist. Nation Books. pp. 31. ISBN 781560259695. 

External links

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