Dave Barry's 2014 Year In Review
December 30, 2014 12:47 PM   Subscribe

There's Just No Explaining 2014. "There was even some good news in 2014, mostly in the form of things that did not happen. A number of GM cars — the final total could be as high as four — were not recalled. There were several whole days during which no statements had to be issued by the U.S. Department of Explaining What the Vice President Meant to Say. And for the fifth consecutive year, the Yankees failed to even play in the World Series."

Previously: 2010, 2002.
posted by Shmuel510 (94 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
 
I made it as far as the Bill Clinton joke. Why, Dave, why? I swear I can remember laughing at your stuff.
posted by Behemoth at 12:56 PM on December 30, 2014 [3 favorites]


Nothing about Eric Garner, and the comment on Ferguson, while true, is pathologically dismissive.

This guy never really made it out of the 90s, if you ask me. And in the 90s, he was still kind of thinking in the late 80s.
posted by MeanwhileBackAtTheRanch at 12:56 PM on December 30, 2014 [20 favorites]


I live in fear of the day I laugh at a Dave Barry joke.
posted by The Card Cheat at 12:56 PM on December 30, 2014 [7 favorites]


Also from today: Time to Retire, Dave Barry [Gawker]
posted by DirtyOldTown at 12:59 PM on December 30, 2014 [7 favorites]


I love Dave Barry.

In 2004 the Republican National Convention was being held in midtown Manhattan, a neighborhood where I happened to be working at the time. I had a friend with an in to some of the events, so one of the convention days I left work in the evening to run over to a bar in the west 30's, where there was one of the many break-out events, this one featuring a brief talk by Karl Rove. I had finally left the office when my friend at the event informed me that there was free food and drinks and lots of girls. There were not lots of girls. But that turned out to be a moot point.

As Rove was wrapping up, my friend grabs my arm from across the table, and said 3 of the sweetest words my ears have ever heard: "That's Dave Barry." She nodded in the direction behind me.

And there was Dave Barry, standing shoulder to shoulder with me, listening to Rove and scratching notes on his note pad. I saw one of the notes, it said "red meat." He had just walked up and stood right next to me, his greatest fan. He didn't even know it. I looked back at my friend, for guidance. I was fumbling in my pocket for a pen, and cursing myself for not having printed out the email exchange that Dave and I had earlier that year and bringing it to be signed. My friend told me to ask him to have drinks with us.

I had to stand there and wait for probably another 30 seconds of Rove wrapping up (none of which I actually listened to), but it seemed like 5 minutes. I was afraid Dave would walk away, or be too busy, or see somebody important to talk to, I don't know. Rove finally ceased his incessant ranting and I immediately introduced myself to Dave. I told him I was the same allkindsoftime that had written him regarding the use of wheelchairs to cut in line at amusement parks - something he had blogged about and incensed the 2004 comedy blogosphere with. He knew who I was! I asked him to have drinks with us. He said he'd love to! I asked him what he wanted to drink. He said Sam Adams! I got Dave Barry a Sam Adams.

We ended up talking for over an hour, just chatting and having drinks. We had a very cheerful waitress who kept bringing hors d'oeuvres until nobody wanted anymore, but she kept coming with them. Dave reacted to this quite comically. He told us a lot about Athens and the DNC, and his other travels - a lot of the stuff we talked about was stuff that he had already written in recent articles, but it was really cool to hear it from the actual man himself. I think he may even have tried out some material on us for one of the pieces he's doing this week. He gave us the bit on Dreier having carnal relations with a llama which was published in his next morning's piece - it was quite funny.

I got Dave Barry a Sam Adams. He's pretty great.
posted by allkindsoftime at 1:00 PM on December 30, 2014 [122 favorites]


not On preview: so much Dave Barry hate I wish I hadn't bothered sharing my story.
posted by allkindsoftime at 1:05 PM on December 30, 2014 [27 favorites]


"… as the World Cup soccer tournament gets under way in Brazil, where, in a surprise first-round elimination, the highly regarded Spanish team is consumed by an anaconda. The Russian team is also eliminated in the first round, but is able to remain in the tournament — over the strongly worded objections of the American team — by annexing the Belgian team."

This is the Seltzer and Friedberg of 'comedy' writing where the joke is just taking a thing and referencing another thing.

RIP Dave's Sense of Humor. RIP.
posted by Tevin at 1:06 PM on December 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


not On preview: so much Dave Barry hate I wish I hadn't bothered sharing my story.

Nah, that was neat of you to talk about. I didn't like the Year In Review at all, but it's nice to know he was personable and fun. (I do remember laughing at his stuff back in the 90s, too.)
posted by mordax at 1:10 PM on December 30, 2014 [6 favorites]


That was a nice story, allkindsoftime, even though I'm no fan of Barry's, I'm glad you shared it.

It's probably easier for me to turn my nose up at Barry because he wasn't my middling, silly humor columnist. I was more of a Lewis Grizzard guy. And he only isn't declining and/or falling woefully out of style because he's dead.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 1:11 PM on December 30, 2014 [4 favorites]


Dave Barry always made me chuckle. He still does.
posted by DrAstroZoom at 1:12 PM on December 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


> ["used to be great in the 1990s", "used to be great in the 1980s", "used to be great in 1869"]

Could we get someone who isn't a fossil to comment here?
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 1:13 PM on December 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


Time to Retire, Dave Barry [Gawker]
Alas, I fear that the time has come to acknowledge that Dave Barry is completely out of jokes. Tapped. Empty. Not a single new laugh to be found. What was funny when I was 13 years old is not still funny today, Dave Barry, particularly if it is the exact same joke as when I was 13 years old, just grafted on to 2014 news events.
The great thing about this is that it's true no matter what year you were 13 years old. The jokes didn't change, Hamilton Nolan, you did.
posted by RogerB at 1:13 PM on December 30, 2014 [11 favorites]


Metafilter: Could we get someone who isn't a fossil to comment here?
posted by DirtyOldTown at 1:14 PM on December 30, 2014 [23 favorites]


I still hold that his colonoscopy piece was hilarious but you'd have to have experienced colonoscopy prep to truly know the horror that he relates.
posted by Ber at 1:15 PM on December 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


Could we get someone who isn't a fossil to comment here?

I'm 8 months old and find him tolerable.
posted by Sangermaine at 1:16 PM on December 30, 2014 [10 favorites]


8 months old? I was born yesterday. Though, to be fair, I was up all night.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 1:18 PM on December 30, 2014 [4 favorites]


He's kind of been a victim of his own success, hasn't he? I remember what it was like when he was the only one writing this way, before imitations of his voice became such an overused attitude and tone, before he was so widely followed and imitated. And now it sounds commonplace and maybe kind of tired and predictable, and not so remarkable as it was back in the early and mid 80s.
posted by dilettante at 1:21 PM on December 30, 2014 [7 favorites]


Tough crowd. I loved Dave Barry back in the day. It's not that he's not funny now. He can still be very funny, or very poignant, if he tries. He just doesn't try. Why should he? He doesn't have to. He can pop a few words into the Dave Barry Column Generator and call it a day. When he writes what he wants to, like his novels or his original book work, he's still worth reading.

Lewis Grizzard, now there was a POS. I read him as a kid, and I blame him for giving me complexes. He taught me about men because I was allowed to read Don't Bend Over in the Garden, Granny, You Know Them Taters Got Eyes at a tender age. His misogyny was palpable, but at the time I supposed he was just telling stories of how the world was. Barry's lazy sexism is at least the benign stand-up comedy kind. Grizzard was just nasty.
posted by Countess Elena at 1:21 PM on December 30, 2014 [3 favorites]


I like his earlier, funny stuff.
posted by Jasper Fnorde at 1:24 PM on December 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


Dave Barry has turned into one extended Dad Joke. It's like performance art. Honestly, it's almost sublime.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 1:25 PM on December 30, 2014 [14 favorites]


I find Dave Barry entertaining even if his humor is not sophisticated. In fact, I think it's okay to have all kinds of comedy because sometimes I want to read something silly and lightweight like the year in review, and there are other times I want something meatier like Louis CK. It's not an either-or scenario.
posted by wintermind at 1:25 PM on December 30, 2014 [13 favorites]



Could we get someone who isn't a fossil to comment here?


Oh, it's ON, whippersnapper!

Lemme just fire up my scooter here....
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 1:26 PM on December 30, 2014 [3 favorites]


He bashed the song 'Happy' so I like him forever.
posted by Jacen at 1:28 PM on December 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


Dave Barry In Cyberspace had a bittersweet epistolary coda that really opened my eyes to how well he can write.

I too read Barry's column weekly until I moved to a place where the paper didn't carry it. Lewis Grizzard was dead by the time I read anything by him, but My Daddy Was a Pistol And I'm a Son of a Gun still makes me cry. It starts with his daddy dying and only gets sadder from there, if you can believe it.

Sometimes I think that humorists (a dying breed in a world of youtube, cracked.com and Gawker Media) intentionally keep telling old jokes so that they never have to confront the sadness and inevitability of change and death. But when they do gather the courage to confront it and survive to tell the tale, the results can be truly great.
posted by infinitewindow at 1:30 PM on December 30, 2014 [7 favorites]


That's not how I remember Grizzard at all, Countess Elena, but I'm a white southern man and it's probably been 20 years since I read any of his work. Maybe I need to go back and take another look. Time has a way of playing tricks on a guy.
posted by wintermind at 1:34 PM on December 30, 2014


not On preview: so much Dave Barry hate I wish I hadn't bothered sharing my story.

Allkindsoftime, I loved your story. Thank you for sharing it.

When I graduated from college I was super excited about it and e-mailed my entire address book that I was going to graduate. Email wasn't quite an everybody-has-one thing yet so my address book was pretty small - but I had emailed Dave Barry at some point (probably to share a story) and forgot he was in there. I got a few responses, but the one I remember is the reply I got from, yep, Dave Barry: "Congratulations. Now get a job."

It was a small thing but I've always been touched by that.
posted by barchan at 1:34 PM on December 30, 2014 [58 favorites]


Could we get someone who isn't a fossil to comment here?
If only. Erma Bombeck continutes to fail to respond to my emails.
posted by vapidave at 1:37 PM on December 30, 2014 [4 favorites]


It's not very difficult to write a 'funny' summary of new events, they write themselves. Here's the Harper's Weekly for December 30 for example:
A Jesus statue was stolen from a church Nativity scene in Haverhill, Massachusetts, and replaced with a severed pig's head; a Sycamore, Ohio, man was ordered by township officials to dismantle his zombie-themed Nativity scene; and a woman was arrested in the Florida state capitol's "free speech zone" for ripping apart a Satanic Temple holiday display depicting an angel falling into a pit of fire. Sony Pictures reversed its decision to cancel screenings of The Interview, a comedy about a plot to assassinate the leader of North Korea. A theater in Vermont announced it would give free popcorn to anyone who brought a copy of the U.S. Constitution to the movie. "I'm proud to be an American," said one of the theater's owners, "on the front line against terrorism." A Japanese artist arrested in July was indicted on charges of obscenity for using a 3-D printer to build a kayak shaped like her vagina, and a man in Washington State who tried to escape from police in a stolen kayak was intercepted by another man in a kayak. "If you're going to steal a kayak," the apprehender said of the thief, "you want to be sure to steal the paddle too."
posted by stbalbach at 1:38 PM on December 30, 2014 [8 favorites]


Dave Barry In Cyberspace had a bittersweet epistolary coda that really opened my eyes to how well he can write.

So true! I picked my first internet handle (on AIM) based on that bit about MsPtato and RayAdverb.
posted by Aizkolari at 1:43 PM on December 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


Could we get someone who isn't a fossil to comment here?

It's my understanding that kids are moving to greener pastures.
posted by mordax at 1:50 PM on December 30, 2014


I love me some Dave Barry. I love me some Paul F. Thompkins. Can't eat the same meal every night.

I got to work with him years ago and he signed a book for me. When I got home and looked at it said , 'Umberto, I told you not to read this inscription. You can't follow the simplest fucking directions. -Dave Barry.'
posted by umberto at 2:00 PM on December 30, 2014 [34 favorites]


He writes from the unfunny valley. Just as my face starts to smile it ends up in a snarl.
posted by hal9k at 2:00 PM on December 30, 2014


He's still funnier than Borowitz.
posted by fricto at 2:00 PM on December 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'm more of a Roger Dudek fan.

(Oh and yes for a long period of time I would wrest control of the paper away from other family members so I could read Dave Barry on Sunday.)
posted by Vendar at 2:02 PM on December 30, 2014


He's still funnier than Borowitz.

Isn't that the humor columnist version of "still a better love story than Twilight", though?
posted by strangely stunted trees at 2:11 PM on December 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


Mrs. Wintermind and I once went to George Washington University to see Dave speak. While driving through the parking garage we came around a blind corner and almost ran over him because he was walking in the middle of the driving lane. Thankfully, we were obeying the speed limit. We had a great time at the talk!
posted by wintermind at 2:13 PM on December 30, 2014


He hasn't heard of Gamergate, so there's that at least.
posted by Artw at 2:14 PM on December 30, 2014 [5 favorites]


Metafilter: Could we get someone who isn't a fossil to comment here?

Won't happen until there is an app, venture capital, mathowie does something awful and then an an IPO.
posted by srboisvert at 2:16 PM on December 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


seriously though he's no erma bombeck.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 2:17 PM on December 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


I would love for Dave Barry to hang out here with us sometime.
posted by SpacemanStix at 2:24 PM on December 30, 2014 [5 favorites]


not On preview: so much Dave Barry hate I wish I hadn't bothered sharing my story.

I wouldn't say I hate him, but every bit of exposure I have had to him gives me an impression of a talent that fails to connect with me. Still, I liked the story, too. A friend of mine found himself drinking one night recently with LeVar Burton; beyond Roots, Reading Rainbow and ST:TNG, I know nothing of Burton and clearly have barely heard anything at all of him in the last twenty years, but I liked my friend's story as well.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 2:27 PM on December 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


"Speaking of seemingly endless."
posted by box at 2:34 PM on December 30, 2014


Dave Barry is still alive? Wow.
posted by Dip Flash at 3:18 PM on December 30, 2014


I read so much Dave Barry as a kid. Some of it really does hold up in my opinion - yeah there was always a formula but there used to be more - but now there's nothing left but the formula.The Internet has been unkind to him in several ways, too. For one thing we can get all the "not made up" weird news we could possible want now, and we don't need him to describe it to us because we can watch the video. And more importantly more than a bit of his style, like the Onion's, rubbed off and now saturates the whole damn Internet.

But there's one thing the Internet did to enhance my appreciation of Dave Barry. If any of you read Dave Barry's Guide to Guys you might recall the section about the "flaming vacuum cleaner competition" - an event where the members of a classic car enthusiast club came together to explore what happens when a vacuum cleaner aspirates gasoline? I could have pissed myself reading that bit as a kid.

Well, guess what, it's on youtube!
posted by atoxyl at 3:22 PM on December 30, 2014 [6 favorites]


Somewhere, I have a signed copy of "Dave Barry Is Not Taking This Sitting Down." It says, "To Ned, my hero." It is the funniest thing he has ever written.
posted by NedKoppel at 3:45 PM on December 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


I read Dave Barry's column [in the 80s] and was amazed at how efficiently he used a few humor tropes to write countless numbers of columns that were pretty funny. Clearly, it finally stopped working. However, I will always be grateful to him for that bad song survey.
posted by acrasis at 3:46 PM on December 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


Earnest and Zippy stories will still make me laugh because he referred to them as "our large main dog, Earnest, and our small emergency back-up dog, Zippy."

both of those dogs are undoubtedly dead now my life is a shambles fuck linear time
posted by tzikeh at 3:50 PM on December 30, 2014 [27 favorites]


That dude's year end summaries always make me laugh....
posted by ph00dz at 3:51 PM on December 30, 2014


He was funny in that show where he's a judge and that big guy is his bailiff and he really likes Mel Torme.
posted by NedKoppel at 3:55 PM on December 30, 2014 [8 favorites]


Thanks to the invention of satellite radio, in-car Bluetooth for your smartphone, etc., this piece is a little dated, but I have to share my all-time favorite Dave Barry column, Garbage Scan, in which Dave keeps pressing the SCAN button on his FM radio in search of music.
posted by Servo5678 at 3:56 PM on December 30, 2014 [4 favorites]


The Gawker article is totally spot-on. I read the WP 2014 retrospective piece and there wasn't much there. Like, totally flat.

Still waiting for the Charlie Brooker 2014 Wipe to be posted online so that I can watch it, though.
posted by Nevin at 4:25 PM on December 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


I was in grad school on spring break in Atlanta when Grizzard died. He was a misogynist and a homophobe, but also for gun control.
posted by brujita at 4:33 PM on December 30, 2014


Somewhere, I have a signed copy of "Dave Barry Is Not Taking This Sitting Down." It says, "To Ned, my hero." It is the funniest thing he has ever written.

He signed my copy of Dave Barry Does Japan "to a demented young man, with admiration." I do not recall what I said to him to earn that.
posted by prize bull octorok at 4:41 PM on December 30, 2014 [3 favorites]


oh no Dave why have you gone all Simpsons on us

time is so cruel
posted by DoctorFedora at 4:42 PM on December 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


Here's something I find interesting, and a bit puzzling: Two weeks ago, I posted about Darlene Love perfoming "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" on David Letterman's show for the 28th time. The reaction was an outpouring of appreciation for that and Dave's Christmas show in general, in which the same things happen every year. Paul Shaffer tells his Cher story. Jay Thomas talks about giving the Lone Ranger a ride, before knocking the meatball off the top of the Christmas tree. Love sings her song. Not one person decried the entire crew as hacks who keep recycling the same material. Instead, the show was taken as a cherished annual tradition.

I'm not sure why this post has gone so differently; perhaps I should have framed it better. For me, Dave Barry's year in review is a cherished annual tradition in a very similar vein. Of course he's applying the same approach as always, rather than doing anything new. That's what it's there for.

Dave Barry's usual approach has always been one of superficial, good-natured absurdity, and I don't see anything wrong with that. Indeed, take away the negative slant, and that Gawker article is a passable examination of his methods. (Just because you can describe his approach to humor doesn't mean it doesn't work.) He was a strong influence on my writing style in my formative years, and I'll always be grateful to him for that.

(That said, I'm certainly not faulting anybody who doesn't find him funny; there are few things more individual than reactions to humor.)
posted by Shmuel510 at 4:44 PM on December 30, 2014 [18 favorites]


I told you not to read this inscription.

my hero

to a demented young man, with admiration


This is interesting! Dave Barry signed two or three books on two or three separate occasions to child-me "to my close personal friend." So I always figured that was his one and only book-signing gag — it's a relief to hear he has some others in the rotation.
posted by RogerB at 4:48 PM on December 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


I frequently use the phrase "large main dog [X] and small emergency backup dog [Y]", but I sometimes modify it to refer to my two sons instead.
posted by wintermind at 4:52 PM on December 30, 2014 [5 favorites]


Dave was very funny in the eighties when I started reading him but he doesn't really seem to have it any more. To be fair, he's pushing seventy and more on top of things than I plan to be at that age.
posted by octothorpe at 4:52 PM on December 30, 2014


I, like many others here, thought Dave Barry was hilarious when I was a preteen, but I haven't read anything of his in years. As for this 2014 wrap-up, well, the only time I even cracked a smile was at the phrase "Operation Thunderous Bidet." But I can't get mad at Barry for that. It just feels like his brand of gentle, family-friendly, middle-of-the-road satire is a relic of an earlier age. In a world that contains Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert and, yes, The Onion, Barry is out of touch.

But once again, I bear him no ill will. I really am grateful for all the laughs. So if you're reading this, Mr. Barry, thank you for not becoming a Tea Party racist maniac or a serial rapist. I really appreciate that.

And I'm not making this up.
posted by Faint of Butt at 5:05 PM on December 30, 2014 [18 favorites]


Dave Barry's usual approach has always been one of superficial, good-natured absurdity, and I don't see anything wrong with that.

There is a message to the happy superficiality of Dave Barry's stuff: that message is "everything is the same as everything else, and everything is fine." For any given thing x, we can be certain that there are aspects of that x that are mildly amusing and aspects that are mildly annoying; the annoyances are themselves amusing, though, so it's alright.

This strategy for understanding the world — this sort of disregard for the particularities of actual things that actually exist — results in genuinely dangerous stupidity when applied to any event that is not fine, as witnessed by the utterly idiotic statement about Ferguson in this year-end review.

The Letterman Christmas thing is an experiment in form that says something about the nature of television as a medium; Barry's schtick is simply a refusal to talk about anything, ever. Although I'm sure Barry thinks of his output as being pleasantly apolitical, this refusal to talk about anything is itself deeply political and deeply conservative. Happily pretending that everything is the same and everything is fine — pretending that we're in a silly universe — requires dismissing people with actual grievances as malcontents who take things too seriously.

tl;dr:
Dave Barry's type of superficial, good-natured absurdity is:
  1. Not particularly absurd.
  2. Disconnected from the times
  3. Inherently political, and specifically inherently conservative — and this conservatism makes his output seem not so much good-natured as disingenuous and smarmy.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 5:06 PM on December 30, 2014 [8 favorites]


I may have a grudge against Barry because his method of dealing with events in his writing is resembles the practical method my family had of dealing with things when I was growing up:
  1. Minimize any real event by pretending that everything is kinda silly but just fine, and
  2. Never, ever, ever say or do anything about anything ever.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 5:11 PM on December 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


The Letterman Christmas thing is an experiment in form that says something about the nature of television as a medium; Barry's schtick is simply a refusal to talk about anything, ever.

Your comment reminds me of how I feel about the South Park "we're extremely topical but we're always going to conclude that both sides are stupid" schtick - I find it very smug and irritating. I'm not sure if I see Dave Barry in exactly the same light (maybe more so recently) but he definitely does the "you and I are ordinary commonsense ordinary people so of course we know the government is useless" thing so I wasn't too surprised to learn that he's had some associations with the Libertarian party.
posted by atoxyl at 5:26 PM on December 30, 2014 [3 favorites]


DO YOU NOT WANT DAVE BARRY TO HANG OUT WITH US? BECAUSE THIS IS HOW YOU GET DAVE BARRY TO NOT HANG OUT WITH US.
posted by SpacemanStix at 5:29 PM on December 30, 2014 [13 favorites]


Whoa, that Gawker article links to an absolutely ancient looking page on davebarry.com.
posted by aka burlap at 5:33 PM on December 30, 2014


I may be the only person who saw it, but I legitimately, non-ironically love Big Trouble.
posted by namewithoutwords at 5:51 PM on December 30, 2014 [4 favorites]


Dave Barry is on Twitter. His Twitter name? @RayAdverb.
posted by Servo5678 at 5:58 PM on December 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


Thanks to the invention of satellite radio, in-car Bluetooth for your smartphone, etc., this piece is a little dated, but I have to share my all-time favorite Dave Barry column, Garbage Scan, in which Dave keeps pressing the SCAN button on his FM radio in search of music.

See, this column demonstrates what was so great about Dave Barry back during his golden years. The form of writing is just something completely unexpected, especially when printed (as it was in my paper) between the bridge column and Ann Landers. There was a lot more stuff like this during the "Classic Dave" period; my favorite is in Dave Barry Slept Here where he just keeps bringing up the HAWLEY-SMOOT TARIFF heading at random times, until it turns into a fight between the author and the printsetter.

It's not the most intellectual humor, but creative and absurd and broad enough to appeal to a large audience. The year in review columns are, by their nature, formulaic, and don't necessarily play to his strengths. But Dave Barry was one of the few places in old-school print media (along with The Far Side and Calvin & Hobbes) that could get weird. As others noted above, the Internet has diluted this effect, but it made Barry's mild absurdities seem more transgressive than they probably were.

(Also, good to know I wasn't the only preteen who grew up reading Dave Barry books. I remember my friends in middle school giving me weird looks for carrying around books with this goofy dad figure on the cover).
posted by kingoftonga86 at 6:22 PM on December 30, 2014 [8 favorites]


There was nothing funny about 2014. Can't even get a humor column out of it.
posted by BlueHorse at 6:50 PM on December 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


We are all Dave Barry now.
posted by clvrmnky at 7:09 PM on December 30, 2014


Dave Barry is on Twitter. His Twitter name? @RayAdverb.

Just making sure everybody realizes it's an anagram.

(I just blew somebody's mind, I hope. Happy New Year.)
posted by themanwho at 7:17 PM on December 30, 2014 [10 favorites]


mine!!

(as another former preteen who still smiles when she thinks of the MsPtato saga)
posted by changeling at 8:03 PM on December 30, 2014


But but but dave berry is a grave threat! he must be stopped!
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 8:10 PM on December 30, 2014


I never thought to put Dave Barry in the same category as Douglas Adams - that category being "humor writers that appeal specifically to 12-year-olds for some reason" - but I too loved Dave Barry as a pre-teen. His column and "Calvin & Hobbes" were the only parts of the newspaper I read. I once got mercilessly mocked for reading one of his books in homeroom because the title of the chapter I'd just started was "Cheep Sex." No one would listen to my protestations that it was a humor column, it was meant to be funny, I was not a freak who randomly read about bird sex...

Anyway, my point is, Dave Barry filled my most awkward, painful years with laughter and for that I'll love him forever. Even if his shtick has been copied and made ubiquitous to the point where it's no longer interesting, and even if he's not as funny as he once was. He may be a lame dad type, but admit it: you wish he was your dad.
posted by Anyamatopoeia at 8:24 PM on December 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


Just making sure everybody realizes it's an anagram.

Of course! I can't believe I never noticed it spells "Radar Bevy".
posted by Servo5678 at 9:05 PM on December 30, 2014


Clicked thread to investigate if there were "Is Dave Barry still funny? Is Dave Barry still relevant? Was Dave Barry ever funny? No to all of the above" comments.

He made me laugh in the early 90s. I still chuckle over "nuances of toast."
posted by ostranenie at 9:18 PM on December 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


Also that Gawker article is spot on.
posted by ostranenie at 9:24 PM on December 30, 2014


I liked Barry quite a bit as a youngster, and had all of of his books up through the early 90s. The last couple seemed to drop off in quality, and felt like he was just repeating the same old jokes over and over again. Reading this piece, it seems like he hasn't really bothered to come up with anything new in the intervening 20 years.

Running out of material happens to a lot of people - Andy Rooney's early work wasn't bad, really! - but I feel like every joke made here, I remember from his review of 1987. E.g., "A place called Chad defeats Libya in some kind of war. This really happened."
posted by Chrysostom at 9:27 PM on December 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


Dave Barry taught me that SPIRO AGNEW is an anagram for GROW A PENIS.

It was a nerdy Dad joke, but a PERFECTLY EXECUTED Dad joke.
posted by elr at 9:47 PM on December 30, 2014 [6 favorites]


I remember reading Dave Barry's story about his college band, Federal Duck, and how they loved the Who so much that they decided to smash their own guitars onstage while hollering "THE WHO!! THE WHO!!"--before realizing the difference between Federal Duck and the Who was that the Who could afford to buy new guitars.

I will always be indebted to him for giving me the gift of serious gigglefits.

Also, the Tupperware Song ruled as did the Rock Bottom Remainders.
posted by Spatch at 11:23 PM on December 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


My daughters have really enjoyed the Peter and the Starcatchers books he wrote with Ridley Pearson.
posted by straight at 1:11 AM on December 31, 2014


I will say, since I dissed the guy upthread and since I loved him when I was a kid (and, honestly, Barry probably did a lot to both inform my sense of humor and make me a regular newspaper reader), that being a newspaper columnist seems like a pretty tough gig--you've got to be topical (and, unlike late-night monologuists, you probably don't have a staff of writers and researchers), and you've got to be familiar, but not repetitive, and challenging, but not threatening.

I can think of a lot of weekly columnists that I like every now and again, but not too many that consistently bring the A+ stuff, week in and week out. And I'm not sure I can think of a single one that managed to do it for decade after decade.

So, yeah, Dave: at your best, you're one of the funniest people to ever write in a newspaper. At your worst, you're at least as much of a hack as the editorial cartoonist at the Kankakee Weekly Klaxon, the Pulitzer-prize-award-ceremony-seat-filling Rick Pencildick. And, Dave, not making this up, speaking as a big fan: get a new goddamn haircut.
posted by box at 5:21 AM on December 31, 2014


> I never thought to put Dave Barry in the same category as Douglas Adams - that category being "humor writers that appeal specifically to 12-year-olds for some reason"

BURN THE HERETIC
posted by MysticMCJ at 6:43 AM on December 31, 2014 [3 favorites]


I guess I shouldn't be surprised to hear from folks who read him more recently or at a more enlightened age than I did that Grizzard was a misogynist/homophobe. That was the current in that time and place. But it bums me out a little, because that isn't how I remember him. But then, I haven't read him in twenty-five years or more and I was hardly the samethibker then and that stuff probably either washed over me or just didnt rankle me because I wasnt fully cooked yet. The pieces I still remember were touching/funny things about Southern life and family. I think I will opt not to reread him then, and just keep the nice memories I have.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:30 AM on December 31, 2014 [2 favorites]


In a few years, how funny will Gawker be, though?

Barry hails from a different time. A time when you could actually gently laugh at those clowns in Washington, both sides are so stupid, haha! but everything was still fine. Unlike now, when it's all we can do to keep a significant chunk of politicians from setting the Constitution on fire and establishing the Republic of Gilead. He hasn't changed with the times, but the times are so nasty, it's hard for me to be upset with him about that. I loved his stuff when I was younger, for the same reason as everyone else; weirdness was hard to come by in those days. If he wants to keep doing his thing, instead of trying to keep up with the times, that's not a crime. There are so many people deserving of my rage out there, I don't have any to spend on someone like Barry.
posted by emjaybee at 8:59 AM on December 31, 2014 [7 favorites]


I still love Dave Barry and his books for, along with many, many retreads of Waterson's Calvin and Hobbes compendiums, helping me through some of the worst depression in my life.

This column, though, hit me particularly hard--our firstborn son was born just a week before it came out. I like to link to it when the hate on him starts because, to me, it is a reminder that Barry was not just a good humorist who has maybe passed his prime, but a great writer. Of course, YMMV.
posted by misha at 9:41 AM on December 31, 2014 [3 favorites]


Dave Barry's blog recaps of the Fox's "24" were silly, but great in regard to recasting the series as an action comedy in disguise--that is, for seeing the show for what it was. This was a show in which dudes in frogmen suits jumped into the Potomac and, after using blowtorches to gain entry to some secret passageway, entered a secret, completely unguarded tunnel to the White House. The show either had it coming, so badly, or its writers longed for someone to recognize the comedy. I didn't pay attention to the new season or his blogging about it, but I thought he seemed much more into making fun of "24" than doing his old shtick.
posted by raysmj at 11:11 AM on December 31, 2014 [1 favorite]


I remember reading Dave Barry's story about his college band, Federal Duck

There's actually a Federal Duck album available from one of those garage rock compilation labels. I don't know for sure whether Dave played on it.
posted by atoxyl at 11:17 AM on December 31, 2014


It's surprisingly tuneful soft psych. I'm fairly sure this brief moment of genuine musical aspiration was post-Barry, though.
posted by atoxyl at 11:24 AM on December 31, 2014


This is reminding me of how much I miss Art Buchwald.

Man, do I [EXPLETIVE DELETED] miss Art Buchwald.
posted by droplet at 12:09 PM on December 31, 2014


Is this the I Read Dave Barry As A Child In The '90s Club? I never received my membership card.
posted by Monochrome at 12:49 PM on December 31, 2014


This column, though, hit me particularly hard--our firstborn son was born just a week before it came out.

That was excellent. I'd never read it before. It gave me goosebumps.

This:
Sometimes I envy animals that emit their young in egg form, then swim or hop away from the scene, free of responsibility, immune from anguish. I can remember when there was nobody in my world as important to me as me. Oh, I loved other people - my wife, my family, my friends - and I would have been distraught if something bad happened to them. But I knew I'd still be here. And that was the really important thing.

Rob changed that at birth.
I really, really love my wife and parents and siblings. Like, more than anyone else I've ever met. However, having children introduced a type of automatic internal disposition that I didn't know was possible, and I don't know if I would have gotten any other way. It's so weird that the introduction of a wholly separate biological organism can somehow extract, unbidden, things that you didn't know were even in you. It's good and inscrutable at the same time. I really enjoyed seeing this captured in print by someone else describing what that's like.

And I also now cry occasionally at movies. That never happened before. Don't get me started on Interstellar.
posted by SpacemanStix at 3:41 PM on December 31, 2014 [2 favorites]


I'm surprised Grizzard got brought up at all, actually.

"I guess I shouldn't be surprised to hear from folks who read him more recently or at a more enlightened age than I did that Grizzard was a misogynist/homophobe. That was the current in that time and place. But it bums me out a little, because that isn't how I remember him."

Yeah...my family has always been into redneck humor and we have all of his books despite being on the opposite side of the country from him in so many ways. I remember not being as fazed by that stuff ("Two gay men attacked a woman on the streets of Atlanta. One of them held her down, the other one did her hair" is all I recall) because well, he was a good ol' boy from the South, and what else can you expect from someone raised in that culture? It's not like he got a lot of exposure to say, gay people, it sounded like.

On the other hand, I remember him saying regarding rape that just because a woman looks like she's dressed for sex doesn't mean she's dressed for sex with YOU, she could have been dressing up for her boyfriend later, and I was all, "huh, I wouldn't have expected him to get that."

Poor Lewis. It's probably good he died when he did, he'd have been all kinds of pilloried and attacked had he made it to the 2000's.
posted by jenfullmoon at 1:24 PM on January 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm trying to remember now. Who was the Southern/rural humorist with the running gag of people being called "crude anatomical names," which would invariably turn out to be something along the lines of "you stupid elbow"? Was that Grizzard, or was it someone else?
posted by Faint of Butt at 3:44 PM on January 1, 2015


The piece of Barry's writing that's stuck with me the most is this page from Dave Barry Turns 50 in which he recounts applying for conscientious objector status during the Vietnam War.
posted by riruro at 4:21 PM on January 1, 2015 [2 favorites]


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