Hello Dave and welcome to #ThePhilFactor. Thank you for taking the time to answer some questions for my readers. For those of you not familiar with Dave’s work, he is an American humorist and Pulizter Prize winning columnist that the New York Times has referred to as “the funniest man in America.” For those of you wondering about the picture above, yes, Dave is also a guitarist. Dave’s syndicated humor column has run in the Miami Herald since 1983. Then in 1999 he branched out into humorous novels. In an effort to learn how to duplicate his career I asked for a few minutes of his time and he was nice enough to respond.
TPF: First off Dave, congratulations on being named a finalist for this years’ Thurber Prize for American Humor for your novel Lunatics. When you began your career as a humor writer, did you even suspect you could make a career at making jokes and that there would be prizes for it?
Dave: No. I always assumed that at some point I would have to get a real job and do something meaningful and productive that would actually benefit society. Fortunately this never happened.
TPF: In 1999 after many years of writing your humor column you published your first fiction novel Big Trouble. You were doing very well with your column and humor books, why did you decide to go into fiction and was it difficult to change your style for that genre?
Dave: I just thought, hey, this might be fun, writing stories. I mean my columns were full of lies anyway, so why not try writing something that was all lies? The hardest part for me (it’s still the hardest part) was plotting – learning to construct stories that made some sense, and were compelling enough to read, and had satisfying endings.
TPF: For your novel Lunatics you collaborated with former Saturday Night Live writer and Thurber Prize winner Alan Zweibel. What are some of the challenges to writing a novel with a partner?
Dave: You have to work with somebody you like, whose judgment you trust, and who’ll trust your judgment. Like when I tell Alan that he’s an idiot, he listens to me, because he knows I’m right.
TPF: This may not come as a surprise, but there is a Dave Barry Wikipedia page. I know what I would do if it was my page. Are you ever tempted to make some humorous additions or changes to it, and if so, what would you add?
Dave: I long ago stopped reading my Wikipedia page. There always seemed to be mistakes, and if you correct them, more pop up. It’s frustrating, and I decided at some point it was better to just not worry about it.
TPF: It’s hard not to notice that many of your books start with “Dave Barry” in the title. Is that a strategy you would recommend to other humor writers looking to emulate your success?
Dave: That has long embarrassed me, but the marketing folks at the publishing houses pretty much insist on having my name be in the title, because… I’m a brand! Like Ex-Lax!
TPF: You’ve got another humor book, You Can Date Boys When You’re Forty, coming out in January. What else can we look for from you in the coming year?
Dave: I’ll be working on another novel. Also I plan to continue drinking beer.
Dave, I’d like to thank you and your assistant Judi for putting up with my e-mails and for taking a few minutes to answer some questions for my readers. Myself and the rest of Rochester look forward to seeing you at the annual Rochester Fringe Festival on Sept. 27th. For those of you who want to cyber stalk Dave Barry you can always find the latest on his writing at his website davebarry.com and you can find links to his Facebook and Twitter. As always, if you enjoy what you read here at ThePhilFactor.com please share with your friends via the Facebook and Twitter share buttons below.