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Creator / Dave Barry

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Dave Barry was described in The New York Times as "the funniest man in America," a claim he has been quick to disavow, except for the plaque on the front door.
Dave Barry Slept Here, "About the Author"

David McAlister Barry (born July 3, 1947) is an American humor columnist, his weekly column in The Miami Herald was also syndicated nationwide. Despite the national attention, many of his columns had a quirky, Only in Florida vibe to them. In addition to his status as a journalist, Barry is also a bestselling author. The majority of his books are humorous nonfiction or compilations of his columns, but he's also written several novels. The three stand-alones are Big Trouble (which was made into a movie), Tricky Business and Insane City, as well as co-authoring a novel called Lunatics with Alan Zweibel. He also co-authored a series of Peter Pan inspired novels with Ridley Pearson, beginning with Peter and the Starcatchers.

In addition to his writing career, between 1992 and 2012 Barry performed in a band, The Rock Bottom Remainders, with Al Kooper, Stephen King, Amy Tan, Ridley Pearson, and Mitch Albom.

He's also one of the few people to get a sitcom based on himself, called Dave's World. It aired from 1993 to 1997 on CBS, with Barry portrayed by Harry Anderson.


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    Original content 
  • The Taming of the Screw (1983)
  • Babies and Other Hazards of Sex: How to Make a Tiny Person in Only 9 Months With Tools You Probably Have Around the Home (1984)
  • Stay Fit and Healthy Until You're Dead (1985)
  • Claw Your Way to the Top: How to Become the Head of a Major Corporation in Roughly a Week (1986)
  • Dave Barry's Guide to Marriage and/or Sex (1987)
  • Homes and Other Black Holes (1988)
  • Dave Barry Slept Here: A Sort of History of the United States (1989)
  • Dave Barry Turns 40 (1990)
  • Dave Barry's Only Travel Guide You'll Ever Need (1991)
  • Dave Barry Does Japan (1992)
  • Dave Barry's Gift Guide to End All Gift Guides (1994)
  • Dave Barry's Complete Guide to Guys (1996)
  • Dave Barry in Cyberspace (1996)
  • Dave Barry's Book of Bad Songs (1997)
  • Dave Barry Turns 50 (1998)
  • Dave Barry Hits Below the Beltway: A Vicious and Unprovoked Attack on Our Most Cherished Political Institutions (2001)
  • "My Teenage Son's Goal in Life is to Make Me Feel 3,500 Years Old" and Other Thoughts On Parenting From Dave Barry (2001)
  • "The Greatest Invention in the History Of Mankind Is Beer" And Other Manly Insights From Dave Barry (2001)
  • Dave Barry's Money Secrets (2006)
  • Dave Barry on Dads (2007)
  • Dave Barry's History of the Millennium (So Far) (2007)
  • I'll Mature When I'm Dead (2010)
  • You Can Date Boys When You're Forty: Dave Barry on Parenting and Other Topics He Knows Very Little About (2014)
  • Live Right and Find Happiness (Although Beer Is Much Faster) (2015)
  • Best. State. Ever.: A Florida Man Defends His Homeland (2016)

    Compilations of columns 
  • Dave Barry's Bad Habits: A 100% Fact-Free Book (1987)
  • Dave Barry's Greatest Hits (1988)
  • Dave Barry Talks Back (1991)
  • Dave Barry is NOT Making This Up (1995)
  • Dave Barry Is from Mars and Venus (1997)
  • Dave Barry Is Not Taking This Sitting Down (2000)
  • Boogers Are My Beat (2003)

    Original Fiction 

    With Ridley Pearson 
  • Peter and the Starcatchers series
    • Peter and the Starcatchers (2004)
    • Peter and the Shadow Thieves (2006)
    • Peter and the Secret of Rundoon (2007)
    • Peter and the Sword of Mercy (2009)
    • The Bridge To Never Land (2011)
  • The Never Land Books
    • Escape From the Carnivale (2006)
    • Cave of the Dark Wind (2007)
    • Blood Tide (2008)
  • Science Fair (2008)

Tropes Present Throughout His Work:

  • The Abridged History: some of his works, notably the book Dave Barry Slept Here and his "Year in Review" series, employ this trope.
    • He attempts to summarize his wife’s high school history textbook as follows:
    “History: 5,000,000,000 BC — 1962: After the Earth cooled, it formed an extremely Fertile Crescent containing primitive people such as the Hittites, who believed in just the stupidest things you ever heard of. Then came Greece and Rome, followed by Asia. All of this came to a halt following the Middle Ages which were caused by the Jutes and featured the following terms underlined by my wife: the steward, the bailiff, and the reeve. Next the Turks got way the hell over into France, after which there were towns. And the Magna Carta. Then France and England fought many wars that involved dates such as 1739 and were settled by the Treaty of Utrecht, which also was used to harness water power. By then the seeds had been sown for several World Wars and the Louisiana Purchase, but fortunately we now have a fairly peaceful atom. Now go fetch Grandpa some more bourbon.”
  • Abilene Paradox: Discussed in his column about finding love via personal ad.
    [Your ad] should say you like "candlelight dinners and long walks on the beach". All personal classified ads contain this phrase, not because anybody really wants to take long walks on the beach, but because people want to prove they're Romantic and Sensitive. The beaches of America are teeming with couples who met because of personal ads, staggering along, sweating and picking sea-urchin spines out of their feet, each person afraid to reveal to the other that he or she would rather be watching a rental movie.
  • Adjacent to This Complete Breakfast: Trope Namer. In the 1985 column, "Tips for Writers":
    I am curious about the expression, "Part of this complete breakfast." The way it comes up is, my 5-year-old will be watching TV cartoon shows in the morning, and they'll show a commercial for a children's compressed breakfast compound such as "Froot Loops" or "Lucky Charms", and they always show it sitting on a table next to a some actual food such as eggs, and the announcer always says: "Part of this complete breakfast." Don't they really mean, "Adjacent to this complete breakfast", or "On the same table as this complete breakfast"? And couldn't they make essentially the same claim if, instead of Froot Loops, they put a can of shaving cream there, or a dead bat?
  • The Alleged Car: Barry has owned several, and his father several more ("THE HILLMAN MINX!") In one column, talking about classic cars, Barry said he intended to buy a Chevy Vega. Or whatever's left of a Vega, probably a bag full of iron oxide powder.
    "So by today's nitpicky standards, the Vega was not so much a motor vehicle as a paperweight with a horn."
    "No, today's cars are just not exciting. I've thought about getting a fun old car, like a GTO or a vintage Mustang. But then I'd have to keep it garaged, find a mechanic, etc. So maybe instead I'll just get a vintage Vega. I'll keep it in a Tupperware container, which I'll carry in my glove compartment. When I encounter other vintage-car guys, I'll lower my window, and shake my Vega at them. That way they'll know that, inside my Actuary, I am still cool."
  • Amazingly Embarrassing Parents: Barry is one himself, and many of his columns make note of this.
    • He once picked his son Rob up from school in the Oscar Meyer Weinermobile, noting how utterly embarrassed his son was at the whole affair.
    • When writing about how Billy Joel's daughter begged Billy not to sing in public:
    "The irony, of course, is that a lot of people would pay BIG money to hear Billy Joel sing. But of course these people are not Billy Joel's adolescent offspring. To his adolescent offspring, Billy Joel apparently represents the same thing that all parents represent to their adolescent offspring: Bozo-Rama. To an adolescent, there is nothing in the world more embarrassing than a parent...and I, grasping the Torch of Dorkhood, became a hideous embarrassment to my son — especially when, like Billy Joel, I try to sing. (I don't mean that I try to sing like Billy Joel; I try to sing more like Aretha Franklin.) If you want to see a flagrant and spectacular violation of the known laws of physics, watch what my son does if we are in a public place and for some reason I need to burst into the opening notes of "Respect" ("WHAT you want! Baby I got it!"). When this happens, my son's body will instantaneously disappear into another dimension and rematerialize as far as two football fields away. The results are even more dramatic with "Got My Mojo Working."
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: A recurring trope. He once described 1963 and 1968 as "A Long String of Bummers", starting with Kennedy's assassination, followed by the election of goofy-looking Lyndon Johnson, the Vietnam War and its associated controversies, more assassinations and riots, and Gilligan's Island being canceled.
  • Attack of the Political Ad: Dave Barry Hits Below the Beltway has an entire chapter parodying campaign ads in which two candidates for Congress run ads against each other using the same TV announcer and the same dog and illustrated with "actual newspaper headlines" and grainy black-and-white photos of the opponent embracing Darth Vader and Adolf Hitler and abusing animals. The ads are so successful in scaring people away from voting for each other that, come election day, voter turnout is zero.
    "I'm Bob Humpty, and I think it's time to stop name-calling and start talking about where we stand on the issues. I believe it's wrong to have sex with any kind of farm animal. I realize that my opponent disagrees with me. But I think we can debate this issue in a positive manner, without negativity and lies and threats by my opponent to kidnap my baby daughter."
  • Author Catchphrase:
    • "I am not making this up." Sometimes he is, sometimes he isn't.
    • If he comes across a phrase he particularly likes, Barry will call it A Good Name for a Rock Band. He even named the trope.
    • He also makes mention of "an alert reader" whenever he mentions a fan.
  • Bank Toaster: Mentions this in one of his books, remarking how the only question banks used to ask was if you wanted the toaster or the electric blanket.
  • Bavarian Fire Drill: He and several cartoonists got into the 2000 Democratic National Convention by dressing up in dark suits and sunglasses, and sticking phone cords in their ears to pretend they were the security detail for Richard Riordan, then-mayor of Los Angeles. (The mayor was in on it, but the convention's security detail and doormen were not.)
  • Billed Above the Title: Because of his fame you'll see his name in big letters above his book titles, like here. (And in cases where this isn't done, it's often because the title itself literally starts with his name.)
  • Billionaire Wristband: His "In Search of Excellence" column discusses the "excellence movement" of the 80s:
    An excellence-oriented '80s male does not wear a regular watch. He wears a Rolex watch, because it weighs nearly six pounds and is advertised only in excellence-oriented publications....(Starts to describe a fictional commercial) The Rolex Hyperion. An elegant new standard in quality excellence and discriminating handcraftsmanship. For the individual who is truly able to discriminate with regard to excellent quality standards of crafting things by hand. Fabricated of 100 percent 24-karat gold. No watch parts or anything. Just a great big chunk of gold on your wrist. Truly a timeless statement.
  • Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs: A common tactic:
    "All of us are born with a set of instinctive fears. Of falling... Of the dark... Of lobsters... Of falling on lobsters in the dark..."
    "The best gift of all is not a mansion, or diamonds or gold. It is a mansion filled with diamonds and gold. But, if you can't give that then you should settle for a college education."
  • Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: The headline for one of his columns was Coffee? Tea? Weasel Spit?. There's also the column about Kopi Luwak, a type of coffee that is made from coffee beans that have been pooped out by a civet.
  • Brick Joke: Almost every column he writes ends with a punchline referencing the abandoned first topic of the column.
  • Chariot Pulled by Cats: In Year in Review (2000), there is a joke about the president driving a chariot pulled by lions.
    [...] there is tension at the Democratic convention in Los Angeles, where the Gore camp suspects that Bill Clinton is trying to hog the limelight. A Clinton staffer denies this, claiming that "security considerations" led to the decision to have the president enter the convention hall riding a chariot drawn by lions.
  • City of Adventure: Miami, in both his books and columns. Of course, Miami and South Florida are both factual examples in Real Life.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Parodied The Blair Witch Project. He wrote a "sample" of the dialogue, replacing the f-bomb with the word "darn".
    First Character: Darn you! You darned got us darned lost in these darned woods! Darn!
    Second Character: Go darn yourself!
    Squirrel: Will you darners shut the darn UP?
  • The Collector of the Strange:
    • Barry owns everything on this list.
    • And every Christmas he does a Holiday Gift Guide featuring some of the damn weirdest things you'll ever see. Bull Scrotum Handsack, anyone?
    • He lists his coworkers as follows: Judi, Dave's Research Department, as well as being interested in men, and Walter, a bone from the penis of a walrus.
  • Commitment Issues: In Dave Barry's Complete Guide To Guys, men are said to be afraid that they'll get in a relationship and get married and have kids and get old and one day they'll be walking down the beach and see a single guy relaxing in a hot tub with several supermodels and invite him and he won't be able to join them AAAIIIEEEEE!! He notes that to get the same amount of love and devotion with more reliability than a man, you might as well get a dog.
  • Consolation Backfire: One column offered this Parody Commercial for a soft drink:
    (The scene opens up with a boy in a Little League uniform, looking very sad. His father walks up.)
    Father: What's the matter, Son?
    Son (bursting into tears): Oh Dad, I struck out and lost the big game. (Sobs.)
    Father (putting his arm around the boy's shoulders): Forget it! Let's have a nice cold can of Bite the Wax Tadpole!
    Son: And then I murdered a policeman.
  • Convenience Store Gift Shopping: He wrote that one time he saw his wife buy one of those ridiculously small decorative boxes (you know, the ones that could maybe hold a walnut, if you're lucky) without even knowing when or for whom it would be used as a present. Apparently you can fall into this trap even when you aren't shopping for anyone in particular.
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment: He comes up with several:
    "Anyway, since you and I are such superior drivers, I wanted to share with you an excellent idea that was sent in to me by Florida motorist Damara Hutchins, who is also above average. She begins by noting the annoying behavior of certain motorists, especially the ones who drift along in the left, or 'passing,' lane, mile after clueless mile, never passing anybody and never noticing the line of motorists behind them flashing their lights, honking their horns, making explicit hand gestures, firing marine flares, etc. So anyway, here is Damara Hutchins' idea, which I'm told is similar to a concept proposed by the comedian Gallagher: powerful bumper-mounted sucker-dart guns. You would shoot these at other motorists when they did something stupid. Ideally, you could fire several different colors of darts, to indicate the type of infraction."
  • Could Say It, But...: He would like to stress that he's not at all bitter about Phillip Morris using the name "Dave's" to sell cigarettes:
    "On the other hand, you must be very, very careful when you talk about real people. An example of a real person would be Geoffrey C. Bible, who is the chief executive officer of Philip Morris. Because Geoffrey C. Bible is real, you should not use the name 'Geoffrey C. Bible' in a derogatory way. You should not, for example, say, 'Darn it! The dog made Geoffrey C. Bible on the carpet again!' Nor should you permit your youngsters to use expressions such as 'Tommy stuck his finger way up into his nose and pulled out a big old Geoffrey C. Bible!' Nor should you say that a person caught engaging in an unnatural act of romance with a sheep was 'doing the Geoffrey C. Bible.' That would be wrong."
  • Cowboy BeBop at His Computerinvoked: Parodied:
    "We see this all the time. Journalists, rushing to get a story out under deadline pressure, will report, based on preliminary information, that a ship sank, and 127 people, many of them elderly, perished. Then, upon further investigation, it turns out that nobody, in fact, perished, although one elderly person was slightly injured by a set of dentures hurled by another elderly person in an effort to get the first elderly person to stop talking so loud. Then it turns out that this happened at a nursing home, as opposed to a ship, although the elderly people were watching a video of Titanic at the time, and although there were only four of them, as opposed to 127, the nursing home is located on Route 124, which is only three less than 127, which is not that much of an error when you consider the deadline pressure that journalists operate under."
  • Deadly Road Trip: What will happen to tourists in Miami; not so much death as massive scamming and pickpocketing.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: In Dave Barry Turns 50: "10 Signs That You Might Be Losing It." Number 1: "You tend to forget things." Number 6: "You tend to forget things." Number 10: "You tend to forget things."
    • In Dave Barry's Book of Bad Songs Dave Barry awards Paul McCartney the Certificate of Redundancy Certificate (though inaccurately, for a mishearing of the line "if this ever-changing world in which we're livin'" from the song "Live in Let Die" as "if this ever-changing world in which we live in").
  • Dinner Order Flub: Dave explained in his column "The Evil Eye" that he was getting too nearsighted to read restaurant menus, so he just points randomly at something which turns out to be his napkin, and tells the waiter, "I want that medium rare." This joke also appears in Dave Barry Turns 50, with a medium-rare order of "We Do Not Accept Personal Checks."
  • Disgusting Public Toilet: In which the bodies of dead health inspectors may be found.
  • Dissimile: Used frequently, usually in the format of "So in other words, X is exactly like Y. Except for [at least three traits common to X but not Y]."
  • Distracted by the Sexy: Or as he calls it, Lust Induced Brain Freeze.
    • Also appears in Turns 50, where he witnesses the introduction of the miniskirt:
      It was dangerous for males to go outside, because they tended to develop a medical condition known as Miniskirt Rapture, wherein you'd be watching a woman walk in an extremely short skirt, and with every step a glimpse of underpants would come your way—glimpse glimpse glimpse—and your brain was so busy receiving this vital information that it stopped paying attention to anything else, and the next thing you know, you were being run over by a municipal bus, which happened to be on the sidewalk because the driver was also devoting his entire brain to receiving panty glimpses.
  • Dogs Are Dumb: He's received hate mail because of this belief, from readers who have apparently failed to notice his references to a long string of dogs in his life and home.
    • He mocks this in one column, in which he avoids saying that dogs are stupid by substituting "stupid" with "loyal". He then explains how he's trying to avoid angry mail from fans who write to him about how dogs are actually intelligent. He adds a bit of a Take That! with "I guess from their perspective, dogs are intelligent, but let's not go there".
    • He once mentioned how his own dogs would stand in front of an empty screen door, waiting for him to open it. The house had even been partially destroyed by a hurricane, but the dogs still waited at the door, despite the fact that there was nothing physically stopping them from going straight through the door or even around it.
  • Don't Explain the Joke: In one column (published in Dave Barry Talks Back), he briefly indulged in this after receiving one too many letters from people who didn't grasp that he was joking when he wrote something. The rest of the article was written with "closed-captioning for the humor-impaired," in which he explained every single joke he made immediately after making it.
    Several of these people (who noticed an error in the "Mister Language Person" column, which is where he deliberately gives bad grammar advice) took the time out of their day in the rewarding field of food chewing (probably not true)...
    No item is ever allowed to appear in Mister Language Person until trained grammarians have indicated their approval by barking at it in an excited manner. (those are not grammarians. those are his dogs.)
  • Doom It Yourself: The Taming of the Screw, parts of Homes and Other Black Holes, as well as occasional columns.
  • Doomy Dooms of Doom: He transformed into "The Avenging Death Killer of Doom" when playing Laser Tag.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: His works before Slept Here are noticeably less biting, less profane, and less heavy on running gags. Also, the illustrator was Jerry O'Brien instead of Jeff MacNelly.
  • Ear Worm: The The Beverly Hillbillies and Gilligan's Island theme songs, according to his column on "Brain Sludge", although they are less a case of "stuck in one's head at the moment" and more "embedded in one's brain forever".
    Brain sludge is a term coined by leading scientists to describe the vast collection of moronic things that your brain chooses to remember instead of useful information.
    For example: Take any group of 100 average Americans, and sing to them, "Come and listen to my story 'bout a man named Jed." At least 97 of them will immediately sing: "A poor mountaineer, barely kept his family fed." They will sing this even if they are attending a funeral. They can't help it.
    This particular wad of sludge — known to scientists as "The Beverly Hillbillies Theme Song Wad" — is so firmly lodged in the standard American brain lobe that it has become part of our national DNA, along with the "Gilligan's Island" wad.
  • Even Beggars Won't Choose It: On consumer electronics:
    So as your consumer electronics adviser, I am advising you to donate your current VCR to a grate resident, who will laugh sardonically and hurl it into a dumpster.
  • Even the Subtitler Is Stumped: Dave Barry's Book of Bad Songs includes about twenty attempts to spell the chanting in the chorus of "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" and about as many lines for the nonsense bridge of "Good Morning Starshine."
  • Express Lane Limit: A running joke. Rules about the Express Lane are presented as amendments to the U.S. Constitution in Dave Barry Slept Here and Dave Barry Hits Below The Beltway. Dave Barry in Cyberspace refers to the Supreme Court decision in the case of Mrs. Bernice A. Whackerdorfer v. A Bunch of Really Angry People Waiting in Line Behind Her.
  • Fancy Camping: He was once lured into attending a sales presentation for a membership to a chain of these campgrounds. He didn't join.
  • Fish out of Water: The basis for a great deal of self-deprecating humor in Dave Barry Does Japan.
  • Flash In The Pan Fad: In Dave Barry in Cyberspace he talks about how computer companies have an uncanny ability to release new models at just the right time to make your just-purchased computer obsolete. Apparently the companies have spies watching your house at all times, so they know exactly when you get a new computer.
  • Footnote Fever: A favorite tactic.
  • Foreign Cuss Word: His column "Europe on Five Vowels a Day" gives three "idiomatic expressions" commonly used by foreigners, with translations. "Ach du lieber!" and "Caramba!" are both translated as "Darn it!" The French phrase "Zut alors!", however, is translated as, "Look! A lors!"
    • In Dave Barry In Cyberspace, he makes a list of strange websites and one is devoted to cursing in Swedish.
  • From the Latin "Intro Ducere": Several of his columns include completely made up joke etymologies:
    "Perspective" is derived from two ancient Greek words: "persp," meaning "something bad that happens to somebody else," and "ective," meaning "ideally somebody like Donald Trump."
    The very word "insect" is a combination of two ancient Greek words: "in," meaning "a," and "sect," meaning "repulsive little creature."
    The hypothesis—which comes from the Greek words "hypot," meaning "word," and "hesis," meaning "that I am looking up in the dictionary right now"...
    [Menopause] comes from the Greek "meno", meaning "your skin sometimes gets so hot", and "pause", meaning "that it melts Tupperware."
  • Game Show Appearance: Dave played a Celebrity Edition of Wheel of Fortune in May 1995. And yes, he wrote a column about it. He won the main game, but lost the Bonus Round.
  • A Good Name for a Rock Band: Trope Namer. He suggests many throughout his columns, and uses The Seminal Fluids in Big Trouble and Johnny and the Contusions in Tricky Business.
    • He used to be in a band called Federal Duck, and is now in one called The Rock Bottom Remainders.
  • Hiroshima as a Unit of Measure: Lampshaded in at least one of his articles.
  • Historical In-Joke: All of Dave Barry Slept Here and a significant portion of Dave Barry Turns 50.
  • Hollywood Atlas: Most of the North American and European entries appear in Dave Barry's Only Travel Guide You'll Ever Need.
  • "How I Wrote This Article" Article: Several throughout his 20+ year career.
  • Hurricane of Puns: If you find one pun in one of his articles, you're sure to find ten more.
  • Hypocritical Humor: All the time.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: Some of his columns, and Dave Barry Slept Here, end with a line about needing a beer.
  • I Take Offense to That Last One: He wrote an article ranting against people who rev their Harley motorcycle for no apparent reason, and received a torrent of insults from irate readers: "loser", "anal retentive", "no life having (motherbleeper)", "idiot," and one who wrote "My loud Harley might catch your attention from concentrating on singing your favorite Barry Manilow song." Dave's response: "Don't you EVER accuse me of listening to Barry Manilow."
  • IKEA Erotica: Played for Laughs in Dave Barry in Cyberspace with a "cybersex" session including the ridiculous line: "I AM THRUSTING MY MASSIVE KNOCKWURST OF LOVE INTO YOUR PASSION PERSIMMON!" And then it turns out that the guy is Al Gore. The woman he's doing it with? Tipper Gore. And neither of them knew at first.
    • Averted in the same book.
      Woman: "Wow! that is a very large virtual penis!"
      Man: "Yes, it can be any length I want! Fifty feet for example!"
  • Inherently Funny Words: "Weasel" and "booger" top the list.
    • Also "moose," "doots," and "moose doots."
    • In one column, he mentions trying to figure out if the word "wolverine" or "weasel" is funnier. He ultimately decides on "badger".
    • This may also be the reason he tends to use "bosoms" when referring to breasts.
  • Insult to Rocks: When he received responses from readers voting for the Official National Insect.
    "Many of you voted for the dung beetle, the mosquito, and the leech, all of which were inevitably compared to Congress. I'm sorry but that's a low blow: Our research indicates that no dung beetle has ever accepted money from a savings-and-loan operation."
  • Intercourse with You: Lampshaded in Book Of Bad Songs and his novels, Big Trouble and Tricky Business.
    "I want your sex pootie! I want your sex pootie!"
    • This song was recorded by a band named The Seminal Fluids.
  • It Always Rains at Funerals: He can think of no other explanation for why medieval Europeans would bury so many people inside.
  • It Tastes Like Feet: He described Japanese energy drinks as tasting like "coyote spit."
  • Japanese Politeness: Mentioned throughout Dave Barry Does Japan. Since Japanese people think it's rude to say "No," he includes a chart of acceptable euphemisms they will use instead of no, such as "We will see," "It will be difficult," and "Yes."
    That is difficult/That is completely impossible
    That is very interesting/That is the stupidest thing I ever heard
    We [w]ill study your proposal/We will feed your proposal to a goat
  • "Knock Knock" Joke: Many times throughout his columns.
  • Large Ham Radio: Played for Laughs in "Garbage Scan", where a parody of a Bible passage, an Emergency Broadcast, an Attack of the Political Ad, a Radio Contest caller who apparently can’t believe they’re really talking to the DJ, a Nothing but Hits classic rock station, and a Kitschy Local Commercial are all spliced together to hilarious effect. Plus everybody rapidly undergoes Sanity Slippage.
    "... send Bill Doberman to Congress. Because Bill Doberman agrees with us. Bill Doberman. It's a name we can trust. Bill Doberman. It's a name we can remember. Let's write it down. Bill ..."
    • Later:
    "Bill Doberman. Him good. Him heap strong. Him your father. Him ..."
  • Lame Pun Reaction: Puns are used and made fun of on several occasions.
    "They were a bit shocked when they saw the crowd, but then they heartened when they heard the 'awww.' (Get it? Shock and awww! Ha ha! Never mind.)"
  • Landline Eavesdropping: One column had this situation, though it was less eavesdropping as it was everybody on the party line talking at the same time and responding to conversations not meant for them.
    Bertha: Emma? I’m calling to tell you I seen your boy Norbert shootin’ his musket at our goat again, and if you don’t–
    Clem: This ain’t Emma. this is Clem Johnson, and I got to reach Doc Henderson, because my wife Nell is all rigid and foaming at the mouth, and if she don’t snap out of it soon the roast is going to burn.
    Emma: Norbert don’t even own a musket. All he got is a bow and arrow, and he couldn’t hit a steam locomotive from six feet, what with his bad hand, which he got when your boy Percy bit it, and which is festerin’ pretty bad.
    Doc Henderson: You better let me take a look at it.
    Bertha: The goat? Oh, he ain’t hurt that bad, doc. He’s mostly just skittery on account of the musket fire.
    Clem: Now she’s startin’ to roll her eyes around. Looks like two hard-boiled eggs.
    Emma: What kind of roast is it?
    Doc Henderson: If it’s just skittery, you should stroke it a bit and keep it in a dark place.
    Emma: Well, I ain’t no doctor, but I ain’t never heard of stroking a roast.
    Clem: Only dark place we got is the barn, and i’d be afraid to put Nell in there on account of she’d scare the chickens.
    Bertha: Chickens ain’t a roast, Clem; chickens is poultry. Take ‘em out of the oven when you can wiggle the drumstick.
    Emma: I told you already, Norbert don’t even own a musket.
  • Late to the Punchline: Dave Barry Hits Below the Beltway has a parody of the American Constitution in which Article I, Section 8 reads "Section 8 has been intentionally left blank." This is much, much funnier if you know that in the actual Constitution, Section 8 is the section that gives Congress all of its legal power.
  • Laughing Gas: In one of his columns, he talks about the safety systems aboard airplanes. When he brings up those breathing masks that drop from the ceiling panels if air pressure gets too low within the plane, he wishes that they'd dispense nitrous oxide rather than pure oxygen. Because in any situation where he needs that breathing mask (i.e. an airplane accident), he doesn't want to be fully awake and cognizant—he'd rather be laughing at the pretty flames on the cabin walls.
  • Little Known Facts: He gives out several of these "facts" throughout his columns, especially in the guise of Mr. Language Person:
    Q. What are metrosexuals?
    A. They are individuals who have sex (also known as "bling bling") on subways.
  • Long-Lasting Last Words:
    • From Dave Barry's Book of Bad Songs:
    "Tell Laura I Love Her," sung by Ray Peterson. This is about a guy who enters a stock-car race so he can buy Laura a wedding ring, and of course, he crashes in a seriously fatal manner, but he still manages to sing "Tell Laura I LO-OVE her! Tell Laura I NEE-ED her!" approximately 153 times before finally shutting up. (I suspect that the ambulance crew turned off the oxygen.)
    • From Dave Barry Does Japan when Dave goes to a kabuki play:
    [A character who lost a sacred relic] stabs himself in the gut, thereby causing a stirring of hope to ripple through the audience as it appears that the play might possibly be coming to an end. But no. If you think this man could whine before, you should see him when he has stabbed himself. He kneels at center stage, holding his gut, and squalls at the audience for fifteen minutes... "Somebody stab him again!" is what I would have yelled, if I knew how in Japanese. Finally he dies, possibly from overacting.
  • Lots of Luggage: He once described this type of individual as someone "whose idea of 'roughing it' means 'turning the air conditioner to medium'".
  • Made of Incendium: States in his home improvement parody book The Taming of the Screw that you can make softwoods (e.g. pine) burst into flames by merely dropping it. (In contrast, hardwoods are very safe, since they automatically extinguish themselves when you light them.)
  • Medium Awareness / No Fourth Wall: In his books, he commonly makes reference to the work, mostly through "this chapter" and "this paragraph."
  • Memetic Badass:invoked He has portrayed Lee Iacocca as one in-work.
  • Men Can't Keep House: Dave mentions sharing an apartment with a fellow young male. It lacked furniture, but this allowed them to play Indoor Ricochet Death Frisbee. Another one is when a reader tells him he has boxed up a ton of old junk and arranged the boxes into ugly brown furniture. His girlfriend fails to see the simple genius of this arrangement, obvious to any male.
  • Mondegreen Gag:invoked He devoted an entire chapter to this in Dave Barry's Book of Bad Songs, commenting that his bad song voting produced many votes for "Ain't No Woman Like the One-Eyed Gott." The chapter began with his misinterpretation of the Beach Boys' song "Help Me Rhonda."
    Well since she put me down
    There's been owls pukin' in my bed.
    • Later he says that people think Bruce Springsteen's "Blinded By the Light" goes "Wrapped up like a douche, another runner in the night", when in fact it goes:
    Wrapped up like a douche
    There's been owls pukin' in my bed.
  • Mood Whiplash:
    • Dave Barry Turns 40 has a chapter attacking conservatives and a two-page, dead-serious ode to his mother inserted among all the humor.
    • Dave Barry Turns 50 has a few moments in his year-by-year chronology when he gives his viewpoints on the issues of the day. These include observations on the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s as a person who lived through them, including the Million Man March. Barry also spends time sincerely angry at politicians who helped prolong the Vietnam War, especially after (in Barry's view) Vietnam had become a Hopeless War.
    • Dave Barry Does Japan has a chapter on visiting Hiroshima on the anniversary of the bombing. To show that it's a notably non-funny section, dark gray pages mark the beginning and end of the chapter. It then comes up again in the conclusion; see Sincerity Mode below.
    • Boogers Are My Beat ends with serious columns, one written on 9/11 and one written a year later after visiting the site where flight United 93 was brought down in Pennsylvania. In the author's notes, Dave remarks that many people have requested that he speak on serious issues more often, since he has an outlook and tone that comforts them. Dave immediately counters with the observation that he wishes precisely the opposite, since such essays require something horrible to happen. And he wouldn't wish that for anything; he'd rather stick to the booger jokes.
    • Dave Barry's Greatest Hits has a (much shorter than usual) column written about the death of his father.
    • Dave Barry Is Not Making This Up has a chapter on music that begins with an absolutely poignant look back at Elvis, then goes into his survey for the worst songs ever.
      • The same book also has an article in which he talks about when his son was hospitalized after being in a car accident. He even lampshades it in the end:
    I'm sorry. This was supposed to be a hilarious column about how Beth and I were getting ready to go our for a nice dinner at 6 P.M. and wound up eating lukewarm cheeseburgers at 11 P.M. on a table in the Miami Children's Hospital emergency room; and how Rob, after politely thanking a very nice nurse for helping him sit up, threw up on her; and other comical events. But this is how the column turned out. Next week I promise to return to Booger Journalism.
    • You Can Date Boys When You're Forty has a chapter dedicated to his visit to Jerusalem with his wife and daughter, done in his typical style. Then comes the beginning of Day Five, where they go visit the Yad Vashem - the official Israeli memorial to the victims of the Holocaust.
    The most moving exhibits, for me, are videos in which survivors describe, matter-of-factly, what was done to them solely because they were Jews. After two hours I walk out into the bright sunlight with tears streaming down my face, holding tight to my daughter. My Jewish daughter.
    • Dave Barry in Cyberspace ends with a sincere short story about a woman lonely and dissatisfied in her marriage seeking genuine connection on the internet.
  • My Friends... and Zoidberg: It's hard to remember a time he's talked about "humanity" or "humankind" without adding "and X," where X is any group. Example: "The time has come that we, humans and congressmen alike..."
  • My Hovercraft Is Full of Eels: Dave Barry's Only Travel Guide You'll Ever Need plays with this by having translation guides that mostly consist of random sentences in English like "Show me the fish of your brother Raoul" (variants of which become a Running Gag). The foreign translations were mostly just gibberish.
  • Narm:invoked Dave Barry's Book of Bad Songs catalogs many fine examples of the musical variant.
  • Nice to the Waiter: "A person who is nice to you, but rude to the waiter, is not a nice person."
  • Noodle Implements: From Dave Barry's Guide to Marriage and/or Sex:
    Q. Listen, I, ummm, I have this kind of weird sexual hangup, which is that I, ummmmm... this is very embarrassing...
    A. Go ahead! Say it! Don't be ashamed! That's what we're here for! To help!
    Q. Okay, but I want to whisper it. (whisper whisper whisper)
    A. My God! Really?
    Q. Um, yes.
    A. The Joint Chiefs of Staff?
    Q. Well, yes.
    A. How do you get the hamsters into the accordion?
    • Also from Dave's columns; "how to have some real 'old-fashioned' Halloween fun! Start by gathering these materials: a commercial air compressor, an acetylene torch, a marine flare gun and 200 pounds of boiled pig brains. Next, select a neighbor who ..."
  • Nose Nuggets: There are countless booger jokes present throughout his work. One of his books is even titled Boogers Are My Beat.
    • When he went to Japan he gave a few of his books to his guide to help explain what kind of writer he was. The first question the guide asked was "what is a booger?" Dave noted that sophisticated humor concepts can sometimes fail to cross language boundaries.
    • Played with, as well — he actually makes more jokes about making booger jokes than actual booger jokes.
  • "Not Making This Up" Disclaimer: He's written "I am not making this up" so often that it's become a Catchphrase. He even named one of his books Dave Barry Is Not Making This Up. Was the original Trope Namer.
  • Not What It Looks Like: Supposedly got the side-eye from the Florida Department of Children and Families, as a result of trying to brew beer at home. His son Robert (who was a toddler at the time) got ahold of a siphoning hose while Dave's back was turned, sprayed "premature beer" all over himself, and went to daycare still "smelling like a fraternity carpet."
  • Oddly Specific Greeting Card: In the column "He's A Poet And Didn't Realize It", in which Dave is informed he has been selected to write a poem by a publishing company:
    I once thought about writing poems for a line of thoughtful greeting cards but I finished only one, which went:
    "Thinking of you at this special time
    "Hoping your organ removal went fine."
  • Older Than He Looks: Barry was born in 1947, and spent most of his career looking like he was maybe a youthful 35-40 years old. Now that he’s well past 70 he looks like he’s in his 50’s. He joked about this once by telling People magazine that "I reached puberty at 30. At 12, I looked like a fetus."
  • Only in Florida: 90% of his columns' subject matter, as well as an extensive chapter near the end of Dave Barry Hits Below the Beltway.
    • Examined in more detail in Best State Ever; he notes that most of the famous "Florida Man" incidents don't actually involve Florida natives. His theory is that many people of all types visit Florida, but the stupid ones can't figure out how to leave. That, and that an unknown cosmic force adds a random "weirdness factor" to otherwise normal events.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: When he writes a non-humor column, it's usually because something horrible has gone down.
  • The Other Darrin:invoked His first four books were illustrated by Jerry O'Brien, who had more of a wacky cartoonish style. Except for Dave Barry Slept Here and Dave Barry's Only Travel Guide You'll Never Need, illustration duties for both his books and columns went to Jeff MacNelly, and then to Gary Brookins after MacNelly died in 2000.
  • Overcomplicated Menu Order: Discussed at length in the column "Decaf Poopacino," as a source of immense frustration for people who need plain ordinary coffee to wake up in the morning. The column takes its title from its subject, the world's most expensive coffee obtained from the excrement of a tropical weasel. It also contains this quote, which speaks for itself:
    "These consumers are always ordering mutant beverages with names like 'mocha-almond-honey-vinaigrette lattespressacino,' beverages that must be made one at a time via a lengthy and complex process involving approximately one coffee bean, three quarts of dairy products and what appears to be a small nuclear reactor."
  • The Parody: "Fangs of Endearment" from his book I'll Mature When I'm Dead amounts to a parody of The Twilight Saga and borders on Take That!. He also has a joke script to an episode of 24 that reads more like a deconstructive Affectionate Parody (for one, the President is a kangaroo… and a female one at that).
  • Penultimate Outburst: In one of his newspaper columns, he parodies this trope. After the defendant despairs over their Cool and Unusual Punishment of admiring modern dance, the judge threatens them with "order[ing] you to also watch the performance artist who protests apartheid using a bathtub full of rigatoni".
  • Police Code for Everything: Apparently in Butler County, Pennsylvania a code 10-84 means "Turkey in Fighting Posture." (A turkey crashed through the windshield of a dump truck and scared the driver with a "fighting posture.")
  • Porky Pig Pronunciation: Dave Barry In Cyberspace compares reading typewritten documents to "listening to Porky Pig try to complete a sentence" because of all the mistakes that have to be crossed out.
  • Purple Prose: Parodied in I'll Mature When I'm Dead, where he writes a long passage of a fictional novel, including passages expounding on how the IKEA furniture has left the main character's hands gnarled, and the female character is from a town in Wales where a 47-year-old woman held up French soldiers with a pitchfork (no, really).
  • Rapid-Fire Comedy: Barry can make booger jokes, historical in-jokes, pop culture references, and puns in the same short article. To say that every other sentence he writes is a punchline would be underestimating him. Counting for inflation, it's more like every six out of three.
  • Rule of Funny: The very thing that allowed him to get paid to write whole columns' worth of booger jokes.
  • Running Gag: His work is practically made of running gags.
    • In Dave Barry Slept Here; Every event of note of United States history taking place on October 8thnote  as well as The Hawley-Smoot Tarriff.
    • The 2008 Year in Review had Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac scrambling for money by buying Powerball tickets, betting on the Pats to win the Super Bowl, applying as candidates on Deal or No Deal, etc.
      "Speaking of trouble, the economic news continues to worsen with the discovery that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have sent $87 billion to a Nigerian businessman with a compelling e-mail story."
      "In yet another troubling economic indicator, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac rob a liquor store."
      "The federal government is finally forced to take over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac after they are caught selling crack at a middle school."
    • Don't forget the Giant Prehistoric Zucchini from Dave Barry Hits Below the Beltway.
    • Or Buffalo Bob from Dave Barry Turns 50.
    • And The Fish of Your Brother Raoul from the Travel Guide.
    • The 2011 Year in Review had "the troubled musical Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark."
    • The 2015 Year in Review had Tom Brady winning everything from actual football games to the Kentucky Derby (with his coach having a different excuse every time).
  • Too Bleak, Stopped Caring: Invoked. The end result of the Bob Humpty/Bill Dumpty election? No one voted. Not even the two candidates themselves.
  • Scare Chord: In Dave Barry Does Japan, he talks about how old World War II movies always would play one when Japanese forces were waiting to ambush the heroes and comes to the conclusion that “The Japanese would have won the war if the soundtrack hadn’t kept giving their position away.”
  • Screw Politeness, I'm a Senior!: Barry would like to attack people with his cane, thank you very much. He also mentions seeing a crowd of New Yorkers cheering an elderly gentleman standing in front of a honking taxi, veeeery slowly lifting his cane, bringing it down on the hood of the taxi, and starting again.
  • Serial Escalation: In "Garbage Scan", the driver keeps tuning into classic hits stations just when they've finished playing a number of classic hits in a row, and that number keeps going up. First it's 14, then 19, then 54, then 317, and finally "3,814 consecutive classic hits with no commercial interruptions dating back to 1978".
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: In Dave Barry's Money Secrets, when showing the proper way to write a résumé:
    "Results-oriented multitasking hands-on team-building problem-solving take-charge self-starter with enterprise-wide cross-functional productivity-enhancement management-specific capabilities including all phases of conceptualization, implementation, integration, augmentation, allocation, irrigation, fermentation, lactation, plantation, and antidisestablishmentarianism served over field greens with a balsamic vinaigrette."
  • Significant Anagram: If he can find a funny anagram in something, he will reference it several times in the article or book. See also "RayAdverb," above.
    • Furthermore, he feels that an anagram generator is an essential computer program for anyone to have.
    • Alert reader Deane Bristow's name can be rearranged to spell "Sewer Bandito" but that is not his central point. Also, as a boy Thomas Alva Edison realized his name cam be rearranged to spell "Do Have Salami Snot", which made him so depressed he invented the phonograph so that he could listen to BB King records.
  • Sincerity Mode: While much more known for his humor, he does occasionally engage in serious commentary.
    • Several spots in Dave Barry Does Japan. Especially the ending, where he concludes that Americans should learn respect and responsibility from the Japanese, while the Japanese should learn from the Americans how to lighten up and be less conformist, "because nobody's perfect".
    • In 2008, he wrote a column about getting a colonoscopy after his brother was diagnosed with colon cancer. The article starts out in its usual joke-y mode, then ends with him essentially encouraging all 50-somethings to get one done — because if a weenie such as he can do it, then so can you. People even sent him letters saying that they did so.
    • His article on visiting Hong Kong before England returned it to China (as well as the guided tour he took through China itself) is mostly a funny story about his vacation. That doesn't stop him from mentioning that, in just 5 years, Hong Kong will be returned to those happy people who gave us all the Tiananmen Square Massacre. The article itself, even, starts off as a pretty much straight (albeit poetic) description of the feeling in the air.
    • In the article where his son gets hit by a car while out biking, he ends the article apologizing for how serious this turned out, and that it was supposed to be a funny story about the hospital visit. Dave then mentions that his son Rob wants Dave to remind his readers that wearing a safety helmet while bicycling is important, because Rob probably wouldn't have ended up in the hospital had he been wearing one.
    • Similarly to the Japan example, he recounts in Live Right and Find Happiness (Although Beer Is Much Faster) of the time that he and Ridley Pearson went to Russia as part of a U.S. government program that sent American authors to Russia. He concludes the essay by noting that his experiences with Russia were very positive, and that he thinks that "if left to ourselves, ordinary Americans and Russians would get along just fine. In fact, we were getting along fine until our governments started bumping chests again."
    • In Dave Barry Turns 50, Barry gives his thoughts on issues from the 1950s through the 1970s, such as the Civil Rights Movement and the Vietnam War. When Barry gets to 1973, he spends the first part of his yearly recap attacking the politicians who started and continued the Vietnam War long after public opinion had turned against continuing the war, viewing it as a pointless waste of time. Barry ends his comments by saying that every politician who ever voted in favor of going to war should be on their hands and knees, begging the American and Vietnamese people for forgiveness.
    • His articles written on 9/11 were very poignant, talking about the tragedy and the heroism on display in a very un-joking manner. One article was written just a few days after the attacks, and another was written for the one-year anniversary of the attacks in which he visited the crash site of flight United 93 in Pennsylvania, which had been turned into a memorial site. In response to this, several people mailed Barry saying they appreciated his tone and outlook and hoped he would write about more serious topics more often. Barry responded that, on the contrary, he hopes that he doesn't have to, since he only writes that way when something terrible has happened.
  • Smart People Speak the Queen's English: He mentions this idea, saying that a person with a British accent could be presenting Hawaii Five-O and Americans would think them extremely enlightening.
  • Something Something Leonard Bernstein: His Book of Bad Songs devotes an entire chapter to songs prone to these, like "Blinded By the Light" and at least a dozen variations of the chorus for "The Lion Sleeps Tonight."
  • Sommelier Speak: He once went to a wine steward competition where all of the contestants talked like this. The French woman sitting at his table remarks that French people don't really talk like that.
  • Sophisticated as Hell: His common writing style.
  • Stealing from the Hotel: He tells this story:
    I was staying at a luxury Hyatt hotel. There was a little plastic sign in the bathroom that said: "Our towels are 100 percent cotton. Should you wish to purchase a set, they are available in the gift store. Should you prefer the set in your bathroom, a $75 charge will automatically be added to your bill." This was Hyatt's polite way of saying, "If you steal our towels, we'll charge you 75 bucks." So I stole the sign.
    Really. I kept it in my guest bathroom for a couple of years, to amuse guests.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: A popular subject for him, ever since he found about (and popularized) the infamous exploding whale incident.
  • Suddenly Shouting: Lampshaded in a column on ads he and the rest of the world hates:
    "[...] ads where the announcer SHOUTS AT YOU AS THOUGH YOU ARE AN IDIOT and then reads, in very muted tones, what sounds like the entire US tax code."
  • Symbol Swearing: One of his early columns was titled entirely with symbol swearing. Not surprisingly, it was about trying not to swear in front of his son.
    • And when the audiobook came along, the narrator had to resort to muffled grunts and squeaks as an equivalent.
  • Take That!: Another favorite tactic.
    "On several occasions, Saturday Night Live was funny."
    "In sports, the entire nation rejoices as the World Series is won, yet again, by a team other than the New York Yankees."
    • The state of North Dakota actually gave him a Take That after he made several disparaging jokes about the Dakotas: they invited him to Grand Forks, North Dakota and officially named a sewage lifter after him.
    • Several columns were dedicated to readers submitting their most hated music or commercial (the Charmin commercial, apparently).
    • He was asked to play a corpse in an opera after writing about how opera is hazardous to one's health.
    • This column.
    • In Dave Barry in Cyberspace, he tells of attending Comdex and staying at "an establishment that, in an effort to avoid costly litigation, I will refer to here as the Total Lack of Quality Inn."
    • He gives one to the entire city of New York after the New York Times wrote an article that unfavorably portrayed his hometown of Miami.
  • Teenage Death Songs: An entire chapter of Dave Barry's Book of Bad Songs is devoted to mocking them.
    • "When I woke up, she was lying there / I pulled her liver out of my hair (though he attributes this line to Stephen King).
    • He made his own version to conclude the chapter. It was called “Oh, Loretta”;
    Oh, Loretta,
    Why did I let ya
    Stand unattended
  • Testosterone Poisoning: Dave Barry's Complete Guide to Guys is freaking made of this trope.
  • There Is No Rule Six: Dave Barry Hits Below the Beltway has a double-layered use of the trope: in the American Constitution, Article I Section 8 reads "Section 8 has been intentionally left blank." This becomes doubly funny if you know that Section 8 is the part of the Constitution that gives Congress all of its legal power.
  • Toad Licking: "I'd like to remind all my readers, especially you impressionable young people, that if you must lick a toad, make sure it's wearing a condom. Thank you."
  • Totally Radical: "If you read your newspaper carefully, you'll notice that you're seeing fewer stories with uninviting, incomprehensible, newspaper-ese headlines like PANEL NIXES TRADE PACT, and more punchy, "with-it" headlines designed to appeal to today's young people, like PANEL NIXES TRADE PACT, DUDE."
  • Trade Snark: Dave Barry In Cyberspace features a Running Gag of referring to Microsoft's products with trademark symbols after the names, including one long sequence in which other bizarre symbols are put after things, such as "Windows 95BILLGATESISAWIENER."
  • True Art Is Incomprehensible: Barry constantly jokes about modern art. There was one column about an exhibit in Miami called The Lights Going On and Off which was Exactly What It Says on the Tin. Another column referenced an artist who sold cans of his own feces as art.
    "The work is titled Rubbish Bag, and to judge from the photograph in the Times, it is a standard black plastic garbage bag, just like the ones you put your garbage in, except that you have to pay people to haul your garbage bags away, whereas Floyer got $47,000 for hers. There is a compelling reason for this: Floyer's bag is empty. That's what makes it artistic."
    "An alert reader named Jane Weaver sent me an article from the London Daily Express stating that Bedford Creative Arts decided to pay a performance artist named Andre Stitt about $19,000 to, among other innovative things, kick an empty takeout-curry carton through the center of town. In case you're wondering why that would be artistic, the answer, as far as I can tell, is that Stitt was going to wear silver platform boots. Tragically, this work of art had to be canceled. It got a lot of media attention, and Bedford art officials were afraid that too many people would show up to watch. Don't you just HATE it when the public shows up to watch public art, paid for by the public?"
  • Two-Way Tapping:
    • "Crack U.S. counterintelligence agents in Moscow begin to suspect that the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, constructed by Soviet labor, might be bugged when one of them sneezes in the ambassador's office and six chairs say "Gesundheit" ".
    • Several other gags include a politician telling people they are not bugging private homes... and then reminding a citizen his wife wants him to pick up groceries on the way home.
  • Underwear Flag: Discussed when he visited his son's dorm room.
    I'm not complaining about my son's housekeeping. He is Martha Stewart compared with the student who occupied his bedroom last year. According to true campus legend, when this student moved out, his laundry was so far beyond human control that he simply abandoned it. As a kind of tribute, his roommates took a pair of his briefs outside, climbed a lamppost and stretched the briefs over the lamp. They remain there today, a monument to the courage and dedication it takes to put underpants on a lamppost.
  • Unusual Euphemism: "Duck shoe," "a very bad word that, to protect its identity, I will refer to as 'wucking,'" and so forth. Some come from the fact that he wrote for a family newspaper (it's got a wife and a baby newspaper back home) that won't let him swear; others are just for the sake of being silly.
    • There's also the time he got revenge on two newspapers (the Portland Oregonian and St. Louis Post-Dispatch) that refused to print a column he wrote about Beano on the grounds that it was writing a column about circumcision, in which he described the operation as "taking hold of a guy's Oregonian and snipping his Post-Dispatch right off." He continued to use these two codewords throughout the article.
    • In an article about low-flush toilets, he refers to "Number two" as "an act of Congress." He closes the article with "Congress is just full of acts."
    • In an article about the Phillip Morris Corporation's attempt to sell cigarettes using a fictional tobacco farmer named "Dave", he gets a whole paragraph of this in with Phillip Morris's CEO, Geoffrey C. Bible.
  • Vampires Sleep in Coffins: In his book Dave Barry Turns 40, Dave gives some advice for looking young:
    Step One is never go out in the daylight. Your role model here is the vampire community, whose members keep their skin attractively smooth and waxy for thousands of years. I am not suggesting here that you should live in some dank castle, sleeping in a coffin by day and venturing forth at night to drink human blood; top dermatologists agree that there's no reason why you can't keep your coffin in your current home.
  • Waiting Skeleton: Dave Barry once riffed that Customer Service must be filled with corpses since nobody's ever been able to get through to a live person. Therefore the obvious solution is to transfer the guys over from Telemarketing (who everyone hates anyway) and make them answer the Customer Service phones instead.
  • Wants a Prize for Basic Decency: One column has this insight into the male mindset: being little more than toilet-trained cavemen, men will occasionally perform an act of great heroism like doing the laundry without being asked or making spaghetti without setting the house on fire, only to be confused when other people (read: women) don't consider this an accomplishment worthy of a Nobel Prize.
  • Weirdness Magnet: Dave often attributes the seemingly disproportionate number of weird events that happen in Florida to what he calls the Giant Underground Weirdness Magnet.
  • Windbag Politician: According to him, the real reason Cuban troops were found all over the world in the seventies and eighties was because it was preferable to staying in Cuba, where they have to listen to extremely long speeches.
  • Women Are Wiser: A common theme in his books is long-suffering wives tolerating the antics of their idiot husbands for the sake of peace and quiet.
  • Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe: Wrote a column advocating a tax of $50,000 per instance per year on any business employing it in their title and signage. (e.g. "Ye Olde Shoppe" should be charged $150,000/year.) Any more than that (such as "Ye Olde Barne Shoppe"), and the owner should be taken out and shot.