Humor columnist visits Tuscarawas campus

Erin Hopkins

Credit: Andrew popik

Erin Hopkins

Daily Kent Stater

Kent State Tuscarawas was treated to a bit of humor from a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist last night.

Dave Barry, humor columnist at The Miami Herald since 1983 and author of numerous books, spoke as a part of Kent State Tuscarawas’ Voices of Distinction series. He shared his views on everything from travel to parenting.

Pam Patacca, public relations coordinator, said the university chose Barry because he gave a fresh outlook on the issues he addressed and entertained guests with his humor.

Barry said his ideas come from things he encounters in his daily routine.

“People come up to me at the grocery store when I’m shopping for Lucky Charms or Frosted Flakes and look at me like I’m in the zoo,” Barry said.

“Then they ask: Are you gonna write about this?”

Barry said although he writes about funny things, his life is no different than anyone else’s.

“My life is not like a sitcom,” he said.

Barry said finds humor in unexpected places, such as state mottos.

He clarified Florida’s motto for those who had been there before and had unpleasant experiences.

“Our motto is: Please come back to visit; we weren’t shooting at you,” Barry said.

He also commented on the driving style in Miami.

“I think they put a diagram in the driver’s manual on how to give the finger,” Barry joked. “It’s everywhere.”

Another bit of advice he gave was about parenting.

“If you ever want your child to do something, start singing in public,” Barry said. “Enroll in medical school? They’ll do it — they’ll do anything to get you to stop singing.”

He also shared information about a column he’d written about an incident that occurred Tuscarawas County.

“Tuscarawas County is the site of the Pop Tart incident once wrote about,” Barry said. “The Dover fire chief conducted an experiment, and apparently a Kellogg’s Strawberry Pop Tart in a toaster can turn into a snack pastry blowtorch from hell. It’s great to be here where that story started. I’m also glad that a fire department has that much spare time on their hands.”

Barry’s last story was about a woman who told her boyfriend that it was the couple’s six-month anniversary. Noting her boyfriend’s silence, the woman began to think about all of the deeper meanings behind the silence and how to fix it. Barry explained that the man’s silence meant that he was actually thinking, “Six months? I’m due for an oil change.”

“And that is why, ladies, you have to lower your standards,” Barry said. “There really isn’t anything more to a man than that.”

More than 500 people of all ages came to listen to Barry speak, and the overflow room had to be opened, where people watched the presentation on TV monitors.

“He’s my idol,” said Elyse Myers, a junior at Tuscarawas Central Catholic. “If I could write like anyone, it would definitely be him.”

Joe Bachman, a Tuscarawas County resident, has read Barry’s column for a long time.

“I’ve been reading it ever since they had it in the local paper, maybe about 20 years,” Bachman said. “I really miss him since he stopped writing his column.”

Barry is taking a break from writing his column to work on three books. He said he is unsure if he will return to The Miami Herald.

Contact regional campuses reporter Erin Hopkins at [email protected].