If you haven’t heard of Dave Barry, it’s about goddamned time you did.
I was startled by how many people weren’t that excited when I told them I got to interview Dave Barry — I’ve been reading his books (with titles like Boogers Are My Beat and Dave Barry Is From Mars And Venus) since I was 10 — and he’s been writing for way longer than that. He was a humor columnist for more than 20 years — his work has appeared in over 500 newspapers (many of which, one presumes, have since gone out of business), and his “consistently effective use of humor as a device for presenting fresh insights into serious concerns” won him the 1988 Pulitzer Prize for Commentary. “Many people,” his website says, “are still trying to figure out how this happened.”
It’s really not that hard to figure out. He has written the funniest books and columns I have ever read, and the funniest books many people will ever not know about or buy or see ever. But now you know about him.
And now you can read his interview with UMD Bathroom Inventory. It had to be done via e-mail since he’s been on tour with his band The Rock Bottom Remainders, in which he plays with Stephen King, Simpsons creator Matt Groening and the Tuesdays with Morrie guy, who probably totally loves when people call him that. So I sent him some questions and he sent us some answers. Enjoy.
-Where is your all-time favorite restroom? Why does that one stick out in your memory?
It was a men’s room in a hotel bar in Anaheim California. I happened to be in there at the same time Roy Blount Jr. walked in and discovered that the urinals had automatic flushing mechanisms. (This was 1992.) (Also, Roy may have had a few drinks.) Roy thought that the urinals were amazing, and was doing a loud play-by-play analysis of the flushing mechanism. This struck me as so amusing (I may also have had a few drinks) that I nearly wet my pants, which is not easy to do when you are IN a men’s room.
-What do you look for when evaluating a restroom?
I assume we’re talking about public restrooms. The key is the total number of urinals. You need a lot, so you can have buffer urinals between yourself and the other urinators. [Ed. note: Dave has a video on this very subject co-hosted by Dan Marino.]
-You have 30 books and hundreds of columns to your name — have you ever done any writing in the john? How about reading?
Writing, no. I use a computer, so it don’t see how it’d work, not to mention the hygiene issue. Reading, absolutely. I do some of my best reading while seated in the bathroom.
-If you were buying a home, what would be a higher priority — a nice bathroom or a nice bedroom?
I’d have to go with the bedroom, since I spend more time there. At least so far.
-The Bathroom Inventory is embarking on a series of restroom interviews with Pulitzer Prize winners. Does this reflect positively on bathroom culture or negatively on the Pulitzer? Both?
I assume you are referring to Gene Weingarten. The fact that he and I and Bathroom Inventory are now part of some kind of Matrix of Poop strongly suggests that the Pulitzer is not what it once was. (If you are referring to George Will, then civilization is doomed.)
-You have a more extensive musical resume than many — what musician, all-time, do you imagine having the most regular BMs?
-What about authors? Who do you think used the restroom most freely? How about had the hardest time?
I’m going to go with Dostoevsky and Marcel Proust.
And that’s pretty much it. A special shout-out to Dave’s assistant Judi, who was really nice to a stupid college kid writing her e-mails with subjects like “interview about poop.”
If you want to read more of his stuff, DaveBarry.com has a ton of information about him. AND there’s a toilet on the welcome page. Personally, I think one of his best columns was one in which he made fun of the B-2 stealth bomber, and there’s also a baller one chock-full of really great camping tips. And if you’re looking for a book, Dave Barry Slept Here was way more informative than that HIST157 bullshit they make you take freshman year.
Oh, and George Will: I Googled you. I know you’re not dead. Let’s sit down for an interview.