Dave Barry is a very unusual usual guy.
He strolls out on the stage before a packed Arlington Theatre and says he will introduce the Arts & Lectures spokeswoman who will introduce John Cleese, who will introduce Dave Barry. The crowd laughs at the implausible absurdity. Barry walks off stage. The Arts & Lectures representative takes the mic and introduces, yes, John Cleese, who takes center stage and, with his legendary Pythonesque style, introduces Barry, who comes back onstage again.
For the next hour and a half, the nationally syndicated columnist just hung out for a one-way chat with the audience. Like the wacky uncle at a family dinner, Dave continuously verbalized his rapidly running toy train of thought:
“Santa Barbara is a beautiful place and there are no fat people. They have these roadblocks: Just step right out of your car and – pop! – get a roadside liposuction.”
“I got a letter from the AARP. It is called that because it is the last sound you make before you die.”
“I don’t care what women say about the pains of childbearing; we really need to find a new way to get to the prostate.”
“They say that there is enough money for [the baby boomers’] Social Security but there won’t be enough for our children… what is the problem? It is payback for hip hop.”
Dave talked like just another fellow in a bar, leisurely telling stories of how not to blow up a dead whale, why there is a sewage lifting center in North Dakota named after him, why in the world anyone would want to lift such sewage, the joys of embarrassing his son by picking him up from junior high in the Oscar Mayer Weinermobile and – like any man at the bar counter – why it is so difficult to be in a relationship with a woman.
Yet his deceptively simple thoughts and stories are remarkably insightful, enough so to earn him a Pulitzer Prize for “his consistently effective use of humor as a device for presenting fresh insights into serious concerns.” Barry is the only humor columnist to ever win the prize.
Although currently on hiatus from his regular column, which is syndicated in over 500 newspapers, his 25-plus best-selling books, hilarious website and daily blog provide his signature silly-guy-next-door approach to deeper ideas. Calling Hugh Hefner a “famous philosopher and owner of the world’s largest privately held supply of Viagra” could be the basis of a sociology thesis. He has a knack for being the goofy fun house mirror that reflects the absurd and ugly truths of our reality, innocently distorted to make us laugh at ourselves.
The triple introduction that started the show functioned in the same way. It was a fresh, simple gag that allowed John Cleese to ominously proclaim, “I want to warn you. He may have this sunny disposition, like what we English call the village idiot, but don’t let him take you in. He is cunning.”