& Fortune: Dave Barry
Teaches his kids value of $1
Barry ranks near the top on any short list of the world's funniest
contemporary writers, a 50-something perpetual adolescent who knows
no higher compliment than hearing that his priceless one-liners
make milk shoot out of your nose.
Life has been more or less a constant jokefest
for the former classroom cutup from Armonk, N.Y., who may not have
written a truly serious word since graduating with an English degree
from Haverford College. Eight years spent with Burger Associates,
a consulting firm that teaches businesspeople how to communicate
effectively, only whetted his appetite to destroy pomposity in its
various guises through his admittedly sophomoric humor.
Barry found a willing host in the Miami Herald, which
he joined in 1983. Five years later, his roll-over-laughing nationally
syndicated humor columns won the Pulitzer Prize for commentary --
"pending recount," he adds on his Web site.
Self-deprecation has been a boon for Barry, who pokes
more fun at himself than any well-deserving national figure. He
has written 25 books, "although virtually none of them contain
any useful information," he says. He is a perpetual candidate
for president, though his platform frequently changes; currently
he is advocating the death penalty for anyone responsible for making
Americans install low-flow toilets. And the "Rock
Bottom Remainders," his all-author rock group that features
Stephen King, Ridley Pearson and Scott Turow, is renowned for having
the world's highest noise-to-talent ratio.
Bankrate wondered whether the zany persona
behind the TV series "Dave's World" would take money seriously. Here's
the answer -- and we're not making this up.
Bankrate: With a Pulitzer
Prize and a shelf of successful books to your credit, is it safe
to say you're "rolling in it"? Have you ever "rolled
in it"? What does "it" feel like?
Barry: I used to roll in it, but you soon learn that, after you roll in
it, you have to spend hours picking it out of your various bodily crevices. And
then you really don't want it.
Which money lyric best describes you? "The best things in life are free,
but you can keep them for the birds and bees, I want muh-huh-huh-huh-ney,"
or "Help me cope, Lord, with this heavy load" or "Ground Control
to Major Tom"?
Dave Barry: I'd go
What kind of kid were you with regard to money? Responsible? Irresponsible? Comatose?
Did you grow up flush or broke?
Dave Barry: My family didn't have much money, but this did not prevent me from squandering
what little I got my hands on. My idea of an excellent investment was cherry bombs.
Bankrate: Parents are
typically our role models as money managers. What sort of role model
Dave Barry: As I said, we
didn't have much money. My dad was a Presbyterian minister, and my mom was a homemaker,
and there were four of us kids. But my parents had the gift of not worrying about
money, not letting the lack of it be a big deal. I know they were always pretty
close to the edge financially, because after they died I saw all the accumulated
financial records and correspondence. But we managed to be a pretty happy family
doing simple things, and I don't recall feeling disadvantaged, except when I wanted
a go-cart, and my dad had to explain that we couldn't afford one. So now I REALLY
want a go-cart.