Wednesday, October 20, 2004
THE MIAMI HERALD
BARRY WILL TAKE A TIMEOUT
BY DANIEL CHANG
is about to get a lot less funny, beginning in January.
Dave Barry, The Herald's humor columnist for the past 20 years,
said Tuesday that he will take an indefinite leave of absence
from the newspaper. He may return in a year.
Herald editors wish Barry were making it up.
"Since Dave's columns began appearing every Sunday in
The Herald, an entire generation has been born, raised and
reached adulthood, " said Tom Fiedler, The Herald's executive
editor. "Yet his unique sense of humor never grew up
and never got old. Learning that Dave wants a breather is
like hearing that Peter Pan joined AARP."
Barry, 57, said he wants to spend more time with his family
after a hectic summer trotting from the Democratic and Republican
national conventions to the Olympics in Greece and around
the country on a book promotion tour.
"I've never not had a column in a week in all of 30 years,
even when I went on vacation, " Barry said. "At
some point I said, 'Well, maybe it'll be OK to not do it for
a while.' And I didn't want to wait until I hated it and I
didn't want to wait until I thought, 'Oh, I've got no more
columns to write.' "
Barry intends to stay in South Florida with his wife, Herald
sports writer Michelle Kauffman, and their 4-year-old daughter,
Sophie, and will continue to write humor and children's books.
He also plans to finish filming on the screen adaptation of
his book, Dave Barry's Complete Guide to Guys, which stars
John Cleese as a British expert on 'guydom' and Barry as himself.
He also may chime in occasionally in The Herald, if events
merit, but Barry said he has not decided whether he will return
to writing his weekly column in 2006.
"Part of the reason for taking a year off is to find
out if I just can't stand not being able to write, "
Barry's column is carried by about 500 newspapers across the
country and his absence will leave a void in Sunday features
In 1988, Barry won the Pulitzer Prize for commentary, the
only humor writer to have won journalism's top award, a feat
that proves all other newspaper humor writers toil in Barry's
formidable shadow, said Washington Post humor columnist Gene
Weingarten, Barry's first editor at The Herald.
"This is the funniest person who has ever written for
a newspaper, " said Weingarten, who edited The Herald's
now-defunct Sunday magazine, Tropic, from 1981 to 1990. "And
this is sort of a wretched admission from somebody who writes
humor for a newspaper."
Barry, a native of Armonk, N.Y., was working for a small community
newspaper in suburban Philadelphia when his writing caught
the eye of Tropic editors in 1982. After a year of writing
freelance columns for Tropic, Barry joined The Herald full-time
Almost immediately, Barry made his name with wickedly funny
and insightful observations on life in general and Miami in
particular. Barry's humor, said former Tropic editor Tom Shroder,
helped define Miami's image as a peninsular paragon of the
"He helped define the craziness that went on there. He
helped define the comedic nature of Miami and not just the
bizarre, " said Shroder, an editor for Tropic from 1985-1998
who and now edits The Washington Post's Sunday magazine.
From his weekly column to his annual projects - including
the holiday gift guide, the Year In Review, and the Herald
Hunt - Barry always found a way to connect with readers as
though they were in on a private joke, Shroder said.
Readers who turned to Barry's Sunday columns to help them
make sense of life's absurdities may feel as though they're
losing a friend. But Barry, who also has written 25 books,
insists it's not that bleak.
"They can read Carl [Hiaasen]. They can read Gene Weingarten.
They can read The Onion, " he said. "They can watch
Jon Stewart. There's lots of funny stuff out there. I'm certainly
not the only one.
"And they can actually read the news, which is hilarious.
That's all I read. I just read the papers and go, 'Well, that's
stupid'. And I write 800 words and when it boils down to it,
it's 'Well, that was stupid.'
"They can do that without me."
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