By Dave Astor
Published: December 28, 2005 11:12 AM ET
NEW YORK Dave Barry was the newspaper world's most widely syndicated humor columnist when he went on sabbatical at the end of 2004. Barry said at the time that he would evaluate his column-writing future after a year, so E&P checked back to see what he might have decided. And the decision is ... he will not resume his weekly column.
Barry's weekly Miami Herald feature appeared in more than 500 newspapers via Tribune Media Services and Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services. It also won him the Pulitzer Prize for commentary in 1988 -- five years after Barry, now 58, joined the Herald. He has also authored more than 25 books, two of which were the basis for the CBS-TV sitcom "Dave's World."
Below is an e-mail interview E&P conducted Tuesday evening with Barry.
E&P: With your sabbatical nearing a year, do you have any idea yet whether or not you will resume your column at some point?
Barry: I'm not going to resume my regular weekly column. I'll continue to write occasional columns for the Herald, as I did this year. I'll also continue to do the holiday gift guide, and the year in review. And I'll keep blogging. But not the weekly column.
E&P: If you might resume it, when would be the earliest that would happen?
Barry: Several weeks after my death.
E&P: How much (if any) have you missed writing the column?
Barry: I haven't missed it at all. Many nice people have told me that they miss it, and that's flattering, but as the person who would actually have to write it, I'm fine without it. I can spend whole hours now without trying to think up jokes. That never used to happen.
E&P: During 2005, what have you been doing during the time you would normally have spent writing your column?
Barry: I've spent more time with my family, especially on weekends, which I used to spend working on columns. I also finished a couple of books: "Dave Barry's Money Secrets," a humor book that comes out in January; and "Peter and the Shadow Thieves," a young-adult novel I co-wrote with my friend and [Rock Bottom Remainders] bandmate Ridley Pearson. I also tried to get better at the guitar, but I failed. Although I am definitely louder.
E&P: What was it like writing your 2005 holiday gift guide and year in review after not having written your column this year?
Barry: It didn't feel any different. I've been writing pretty much daily, working on books and such, so it wasn't as if I had to remember how to turn on the computer or anything.
E&P: Why did you decide to make the Erma Bombeck Writers' Workshop (March 23-25 at the University of Dayton) one of your 2006 speaking engagements?
Barry: Guilt, for one thing. They asked me a bunch of times and I couldn't do it. Also I was a longtime fan of Erma Bombeck, and when I finally got to meet her she was a wonderful person.
E&P: Any comments, serious or humorous, about these three major 2005 journalism stories: Massive layoffs at newspapers. The "Plamegate" leak case. "Pundit payola" to conservative syndicated columnists.
Barry: 1. The newspaper layoffs are just depressing.
2. I tried to follow "Plamegate," but it turned out to be WAY more complicated than calculus, so I gave up around the time they indicted "Scooter," whoever "Scooter" is. But I do feel that, if we're going to be throwing journalists in jail, there is no excuse not to at least make an effort to get Geraldo.
3. I think paying pundits is a terrible, terrible thing, unless for some reason
I get back into punditry, in which case I will be all for it.