If you haven’t had a chance to catch ‘Peter and the Starcatcher,’ the creative and humor-filled comedy by Rick Elice now on stage, you have a few more performances to enjoy this star-dust-filled adventure. Authors Ridley Pearson and Dave Barry collaborated on creating an origin story to J.M. Barrie’s infamous literary character, Peter Pan. Elice adapted Pearson and Barry’s novel to the stage. Before writing this five novel series, Pearson was known for his thrillers while Barry has always displayed his sense of humor. This week, guest columnist Dr. Chris Chan takes over Players Pen to share more about Dave Barry. Take it away Chris!
Barry, co-author of the children’s novel “Peter and the Starcatchers,” is one of America’s foremost humorists. He started work in journalism in Pennsylvania in the early 1970s, and started writing humorous columns there. Eventually, he was hired by the Miami Herald in the early 1980s and was soon syndicated across the country.
Barry won the Pulitzer Prize for Commentary in 1988 “For his consistently effective use of humor as a device for presenting fresh insights into serious concerns.” The columns submitted for the prize included a tongue-in-cheek overview of the Iran-Contra Scandal interspersed with comments expressing his desire to win the Pulitzer and the desperation of many journalists to win it and other prizes, another humorous look at Iran-Contra, an uncharacteristically tragic column about his mother’s final days, and a critical response to a New York Times column “Can Miami Save Itself?” titled “Can New York Save Itself?” Barry could not find his Pulitzer for a long time, “which is why his wife now keeps it in a secure location that he does not know about.”
Barry’s most popular columns include his grammar expert parody “Ask Mr. Language Person,” his columns exploring inexplicably popular bad songs, and his annual Gift Guide featuring actual items no sane person should ever want to buy or receive as a present. Due to his penchant for writing about incredible and eyebrow-raising topics, Barry’s trademark line has become “I am not making this up.”
Barry has published dozens of books, including column anthologies “Dave Barry’s Bad Habits: A 100% Fact-Free Book,” “Dave Barry is Not Taking This Sitting Down,” “Dave Barry is From Mars and Venus” and “Boogers Are My Beat.” His original books include his musings on aging “Dave Barry Turns 40” and “Dave Barry Turns 50,” his travel book “Dave Barry Does Japan,” his satiric history book “Dave Barry Slept Here: A Sort of History of the United States,” a political analysis titled “Dave Barry Hits Below the Beltway: A Vicious and Unprovoked Attack on Our Most Cherished Political Institutions” and “I’ll Mature When I’m Dead: Dave Barry’s Amazing Tales of Adulthood.”
From 1993 to 1997, the sitcom “Dave’s World” was loosely based on Barry’s life. Barry once explained that “Harry Anderson plays me. Only taller.” Barry made a one-shot guest appearance as a fellow customer in an air conditioner store. In response to criticisms over his artistic integrity, Barry explained that, “Lest you think I have ‘sold out’ as an artist, let me stress that I have retained total creative control over the show, in the sense that, when they send me a check, I can legally spend it however I want.”
For 20 years, Dave Barry was a member of the band The Rock Bottom Remainders. The band was a group of prominent authors who, in Barry’s words, “are not musically skilled, but they are extremely loud.” Other members of the band included Stephen King, Scott Turow, Matt Groening, Barbara Kingsolver, Amy Tan, Mitch Albom and Pearson (the co-author of “Peter and the Starcatchers.”)
In late 2004, Barry decided to take a leave of absence from regular humor writing, and decided a year later to stop writing columns every week. He still writes special features and traditional annual columns like his “Year In Review.” Since the mid 2000s, Barry has focused mainly on writing books, including comic novels for adults (like “Big Trouble,” which became a movie starring Tim Allen, and “Tricky Business”) and children’s books. Recently, he published the essay collections “You Can Date Boys When You’re Forty: Dave Barry on Parenting and Other Topics He Knows Very Little About” and “Live Right and Find Happiness (Although Beer is Much Faster): Life Lessons and Other Ravings from Dave Barry.” His latest books are the tribute to Florida “Best. State. Ever.: A Florida Man Defends His Homeland” and “For This We Left Egypt?: A Passover Haggadah for Jews and Those Who Love Them.” Barry is not Jewish but his wife and daughter are.
Barry co-wrote and starred in the 2005 movie “Dave Barry’s Complete Guide to Guys,” a mockumentary based on his book of the same name. In it, Barry tries to explain guy behavior, with the help of an internationally recognized expert on guys played by John Cleese.
Barry official blog is http://blogs.herald.com. He likes to post links to weird and unusual news stories, many of which are sent to him by fans that he affectionately dubs “Alert Readers.” He has also gained a loyal following for posting recaps of the television series “24,” which he has called “my favorite TV show except when I am actually watching it.”
Barry continues to write and live in Florida with his family.
Audiences can enjoy Barry and Pearson’s humor as adapted to stage by Rick Elice through Sunday, July 23. We hope to see you at the theater where the sun sets, the curtain rises and the stars shine! For ticket information visit www.peninsulaplayers.com or phone (920) 868-3287.
Dr. Chris Chan is an International Goodwill Ambassador for the official Agatha Christie website, lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and earned his Ph.D.in U.S. history from Marquette University. Audra Baakari Boyle is the Business Manager for Peninsula Players.