Here you go, direct from the keyboard of Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Dave Barry. You asked, he answered. Why, we do not know. We didn't pay him $127,000 to do this, no matter what anyone says. It must be a slow news week in Miami. Or worse -- and this is a scary thought -- maybe Dave likes Slashdot readers and wants you all to like him, too.
1) It's me, Dave
You should remember me. I'm the guy that shook hands with you that day, two years ago, during the Tropic Hunt in Hollywood. You also signed the napkin I found near the garbage can. I know that it was a clue, but I don't understand why you didn't mention it when you read off the official answers to the Hunt. Clearly the contents were a reference to your many columns on boogers. I still have that napkin and will return it to as soon as you send me your home address.
Anyway, my question is:
How has your life changed since you won a Pullet Surprise? Is the fame and money and gorgeous babes throwing themselves at your feet worth it?
PS How much do I need to pay you to get my name in one of your next columns?
The best thing about winning the Pulitzer is, about once every ten years you can say (or write) to some jerk who is attacking you in a nasty manner: "Oh yeah? Well I won the Pulitzer." Actually, come to think of it, you can say this even if you DIDN'T win the Pulitzer. Nobody ever checks.
But there are no babes, with the Pulitzer. And the money is (at least when I won) $3,000, which is about what you spend on beer for your friends when you win the Pulitzer.
2) Humour in times of crises
by Anonymous Coward
I'm curious about what you think about humour (Canadian spelling) in times of crises. Just before 9/11, I read Bob Hope's autobiography dealing with Pearl Harbour and how important everyone thought it was to keep people laughing because a) it was important for morale and b) it was important to show the Japanese that they hadn't destroyed what it meant to be American.
This doesn't seem to be the case at all after 9/11 (and most recently the loss of Columbia), with the most glaring example being the removal of the Spider-Man trailer (catching a helicopter in a web strung between the two World Trade towers).
What are your thoughts on this and of humour in times of crises in general?
I think we in the humor business were fairly self-conscious right after 9-11, but pretty quickly we got back to what we do, which is try to amuse people. I think we do this more to make people like us than to meet any deep national psychic need. Also most of us have no useful skills to fall back on.
So to the extent that humor changes in times of crisis -- and I don't think it does much -- it's more because that's what we think the audience wants. And pretty soon the audience goes back to whatever it thought was funny before.
3) Corruption in Miami City Government
by Nova Express
Once you characterized Miami's endemic corruption (and here I would like to note that Endemic Corruption is a good name for a rock band) was so pervasive that Miami would benefit by being taken over by the Mafia, since then at least COMPETENT criminals would be running the city. In light of that, I'd like to ask you: What's the strangest thing you've ever lit on fire?
Whoops, sorry, that was the FBI Carnivore guys monitoring my computer who slipped that last one in. (Motto: "You're Not Authorized to Know Our Motto.") No, the real question is, has Miami's corruption gotten better or worse since you wrote that, and what would you and Carl Hiaasen do if Miami eliminated its Supersized Corruption and merely went with the Small Corruption with Fries enjoyed by other large American cities?
I think it's as bad as it ever was, but maybe a little smarter. And if Miami ever straightened itself out, Carl would become a bonefishing guide, and I would become... I dunno. Maybe a bonefish.
4) Joke Tracking Center
In "Dave Barry's Greatest Hits", there was a column entitled "Public-Spirited Citizens Such As You" where you talk about a joke that answers the question, "Why is Walter Mondale nicknamed 'Fritz'?" You ask that everybody write in to The Joke Tracking Center as soon as they hear the joke. I haven't heard the joke, and that question has been keeping me up all night for the past 10 years. Why is Walter Mondale nicknamed Fritz? Also, does The Joke Tracking Center employ bad joke/pun writers? My dad is currently unemployed, and I'm sure he would fit right in.
The original joke -- revealed here for the first time -- is that Walter Mondale is called "Fritz" because there is no Norwegian name for "Peckerhead." That may not sound funny now, but, trust me, it was also not funny when I first thought it up. It's HARD to think up jokes. This is probably why the Joke Tracking Center didn't work out. It was supposed to be based on the hurricane-tracking center. The idea was, we would insert a new joke into the nation (I believe we inserted it in Ohio) and then track it as it spread. But the Mondale joke was SO bad that nobody bothered to repeat it, and it died. So did the Joke Tracking Center, which has no organization and no employees. But it still gets junk mail. Which leads us to the obvious question...
5) Obvious Question
What would be your ideal solution for Spam (as in Internet Junk E-mail?)
I've had a good response to the idea of an internet spammer hunting license or season, complete with cute orange ear tags for the spammers.
Maybe the solution is for us to stop being so negative. Maybe we should actually buy all the spammers' products -- their low-interest mortgages, and their penis enlargers -- so they will become rich and happy and mellow, and they will decide voluntarily to stop hassling us.
Just kidding! I favor castration.
6) Who are we?
As a nationally syndicated author, you're in quite a high profile position. I have no doubt that, had this interview not come up, you'd be busy doing things you get paid to do.
That said, why did you agree to do this interview? Did you think it would be a neat thing to do? Is this another way for people to learn about your column, or are you learning more about what's on the minds of your readers? Are we going to get our own article written about us (no doubt that would be a funny and possibly humbling experience)? As someone from "the outside world", do you see us as a bunch of people with wide backgrounds and experiences, or are we the teenage boy group that TV tells us owns and authors the internet?
I agreed to do this interview because I really and truly want to interact with you, my readers. Also, Slashdot is paying me $127,000.
6a) (addon/followup) by Mr Guy
Also, if you respond to this interview while drunk, is there the dangerous possibility your drinks would be tax deductible?
That is a risk I am willing to take.
7) Personal Technology Wishes
Looking forward based on today's cutting-edge research (the sort of news Slashdot often reports), what technology do you find yourself impatient to get your hands on today, or which technologies aren't advancing as fast as you would wish?
I'm always looking for a newer, smaller, lighter laptop computer. I want a laptop so small and light that sometimes I accidentally suck it up one of my nostrils. I also would like to have a cell phone that enabled me to jam the cell phones of people around me.
Mr. Barry... I own several of your books, as well as a copy of the 'Big Trouble' movie. (I hope you're getting some kind of royalties for that...). In all of your writing, the piece that I felt was the most powerful was your segment on visting Hiroshima in 'Dave Barry does Japan' and witnessing the holiday celbrated in rememberance of the bombing. You've written a few more very serious pieces, such as the column on your visit to one of the 9-11 crash sites.
My question is why do you not do more serious columns and articles like these more often? While I think that your columns and humor articles are great (milk-through the nose funny, frequently) I can't help but feel that the Hiroshima and 9-11 articles were better.
First, thank you. Second, my bread and butter (and of course beer) comes from writing humor; this is how I make my living, and this is what the newspapers who publish my weekly column expect from me. I sometimes like the challenge of writing serious pieces, but usually this is when I'm faced with a really serious topic -- such as 9-11 or Hiroshima -- that forces me to be somber. Usually I don't WANT to be somber.
9) When you vote....
by Anonymous Coward
When you vote, do you vote for the candidate that is going to make your job easier as a humor columnist? Or do you actually try to vote for the best canditate?
I look at all the attributes of each candidate -- philosophy, integrity, experience -- and then I vote for myself.
10) How much fame?
are you often recognized "on the street"? What I mean is, you're obviously very famous and have tons of fans. But at the same time, I get the sense that you have more of a "cult" following and maybe aren't as well-recognized as, say, Ben Affleck or Chris Rock. Do you have to change your daily routine to avoid being swarmed by adoring fans, or do or do you enjoy relative anonymity in your daily life?
PS - you recently wrote that Michigan ranked among the stupidest states because we have an "official state soil." I heartily agree, but boy did your column provoke some angry letters in the Kalamazoo Gazette!
I get recognized a fair amount in Miami, but it's a low-key thing; people sometimes say hello, or compliment me on a column, or fire a revolver my way, but usually they deliberately aim for an extremity. Outside of Miami, I get recognized occasionally, but it's not a regular thing, except of course in Kalamazoo, where I am a god.
Free bonus question: Is it painfull
Is it painfull to read all these attempts at asking a 'funny' question?
These questions were supposed to be funny?