Skip to main content
Message Font: Serif | Sans-Serif
 
No. of Recommendations: 8
(Possibly coming to Misterduck.net...)

I wanna be Dave Barry.

I mean, what kind of life is that? You're published in a major metropolitan newspaper, your weekly submission is syndicated and published all over the world, and half the time, you get to use the words "booger" and "Nixon" in the same article!

You get to write all kinds of fluff, including re-hashes of strange things that go on around the world (which you preface with "I am not making this up..."), and physical limitations of normal human beings, such as death!

You write about your dogs, your children, and even the state you live in. As for Florida, you can either promote it or make fun of it, and your readers will be laughing their @$$es off either way!

Heck, I make one crack about the Detroit Tigers and twelve guys come over to my house and burn an Atlanta Braves jersey on my front lawn!

You have the most interesting friends. You go kayaking with with friends in Idaho. I work at home, so the most "friendly" relationships I have are with the mailman, the UPS guy, and the guy from the county that comes and sprays for mosquitos....

You get to write about how funny the Japanese are in their home land, I make a glib remark at The Motley Fool about an red-headed Asian and I'm banned for a week.

Must be nice to be Dave Barry and get away with this stuff....

At first I started off reading old Field and Stream magazines, sitting by my Dad's chair, piled on top of his Playboy's, but I read them anyway, and got my introduction to humor writing via Patrick McManus ("They Shoot Canoes, Don't They?"). Ah...to tell a simple story about a simple hunting/fishing trip and have it become the funniest thing I've ever read while in junior high school. Boy I wish I could be as funny as him. Alas, Dad got too cheap and stopped subscribing to Field and Stream (but he didn't quit the Playboys...).

Years passed, I got into other things. I started to notice a few people writing funny things...and they were in the newspaper! As a kid, I always thought newspapers had only serious crap, except for the comics, so humor columns started getting my attention. Irma Bombeck? Dave Barry? Who are these weirdos?

I got my first job, I got married, then we got our first HOME PC. I had been working on PC's since they came out, but I never owned one until 1988. After I got bored playing games, I discovered the "online" world. No, not the Internet, the local Bulletin Board Systems (BBS's) and Compuserve. I eventually got "connected" all around and started to locate friends and relatives and I'd send them outright ripoff's of David Letterman's Top Ten Lists. I'd combined them with the local news and/or what's happening around the Duck house and the misadventures of yours truly, usually involving beer and motorcycles (not usually in that order, though).

I would keep posting them to more and more friends. Quite a few times, I would get a comment here and there, "Hey, ya oughta do this for a living!" or "Hey, maybe ya oughta send this in to 'Readers Digest' or 'to the local paper'..." or some place where I'd get more of the public's attention (short of jail, of course).

When I joined the Motley Fool, I would first start talking about some of the REAL adventures in the Duck household, and many folks would find it funny (and that's how I discovered what "rec's" are). Later, I would write up new stories, based on real things that have happened, but I'd "embellish" them. (Or in other words, make up sh*t just to make the story funny...) Still, more folks gave me some encouragement (or at least they quit FA'ing me as much on LBYM...).

Well, okay, I have a website. I copied over some of my good stories and I'm trying to put in NEW original stories.

Why?

I dunno.

I think I crave attention.
I think I am fairly funny (at least before the first 3 beers kick in as I write).
I think I'd like to do this and make it a living, but don't know how.

Then I see Dave Barry. Mr. Barry. The Dave. The King of Weekly Written Wonderment. Gee. Must be nice. Must have a decent income. He's got several books out and must be getting some residuals or something like that.

But he's famous. Gee. I'd like to write something funny AND be famous.

So I'm hoping for at least one out of two.

At the moment, the only thing that comes to mind is that MIL's dog, Sh*thead, has come to stay with us for a couple weeks and has just trashed my guest bathroom. (How do you get DOG POOP 5 FEET UP THE DOOR?!?!?)

But I can always dream.

And someday somebody will pay me for using the words "badger poop" and "John Ashcroft" in the same article.



Duck
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 4
Dave Barry also has written fiction. He was part of a collaboration of Souther authors who co-wrote Naked Came the Manatee and he has written two novels of his own. Although his second book did not impress me, the first one, Big Trouble, was by far the funniest book I have ever read, bar none. If you like his columns, then the book is priceless, although it does have foul language in it, which might be a shock to his gentler readers.

If you are serious about your desires, I would recommend going for it. After all, there have been other humor columnists who may have inspired Mr. Barry, like Lewis Grizzard and Patrick McManus. The formula for breaking in is straightforward: write a handful of columns and offer them to markets. You might set your sights high and submit them to the number one newspaper in your city, but many, many more people got their break with smaller, local rags--the suburban newspaper with a circulation of a couple of thousand, weekly entertainment guides that are offered for free at restaurants, etc. You might even consider offering your work for free, if necessary, keeping in mind that once you've got a few bylines under your belt you will try to take your work elsewhere for renumeration. As you build a following, you will gain clout and perhaps land syndication, the Holy Grail for thousands of small-time columnists everywhere.

The advice I've seen in this area warns that many people have dreamed of writing a column, come up with one or two ideas, and then the inspiration runs out of gas. Could you come up with, right now, ideas for a dozen columns, for example, and write them to completion? Keep in mind, being expected to write a hilarious column week after week after week can turn an amusing sideline into something similar to work and for the first few years you may earn less than minimum wage for your efforts. Lewis Grizzard remarked, "Having a newspaper column is like being married to a nymphomaniac: for the first two weeks it's fun."

But there is definitely a market for your work. I've read some of your stuff, and you have a fresh voice. I'm sure that if you worked at it, you could find yourself hearing someone remark, "I sure do wish I could write like that Duck guy."

Good Luck and Keep Writing.
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 0
An article on self-syndicating. The whole website is a good resource, so check it out!

http://www.writing-world.com/freelance/columns/syndicate.shtml

CK
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 1
Thanks guys! I was just just doing a little venting (even though I WOULD like to be the next Dave Barry), but I thought I'd do a little entertaining as well.

3 beers don't hurt either...


Duck
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 0
Duck:

Good stuff and I urge you to look into local newspaper publishing first, before branching out to syndication. CK's website posting about syndication is a good one for a start. The issue of what rights to ask for is a big issue right now, and one that can be very personal for the first-time writer. He or she will have to make some hard decisions about the value of having their name in print, verses holding the line about giving all rights away. Once established the issue become easier.

Anyway, writing humor is one of the hardest of any writing venue, especially, producing a funny column week after week and month after month. You'll never hear about the funny columns, but all hell will come reigning down for those the editor or readers didn't think were funny.

I've had the privilege of meeting Pat McMannus and Joel Vance, two of the premiere humor writers in the outdoor field, and attended seminars provided by them. Both remarked on how difficult it was to consistently write good humor, and that the best humor was targeted at themselves and their misadventures.

Anyway, don't give up the dream, but think local for the beginnings.

Now back under my rock,

Spence, who is getting ready for the fall hunting season
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 0
Duck,

You are just as funny as Dave Barry. Maybe he's living your life.

Lynn
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 0
you could find yourself hearing someone remark, "I sure do wish I could write like that Duck guy."

I sure wish I could write like that Duck guy. (But then maybe I'm just a groupie..)

Buffy (who was never here...)
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 0
Hey, Duck. Speaking of Dave Barry, the November 2003 issue of Writer's Digest, which I received in the mail two days ago, has an interview with Dave Barry. He discusses his writing habits, where he gets his ideas, the struggles behind the scenes, etc.

It also has an article about writing humor columns, pulling the humor out of ordinary or even non-funny situations, exaggerating and expanding details that readers can sympathize.

Should be in bookstores in a few days.
Print the post Back To Top