Humor writer Dave Barry entertained a crowd of 1,700 happy people at the Saroyan Theatre in Fresno on Wednesday.
He covered territory such as Florida drivers, how to build a border wall and columns that backfire on him.
Many who attended the event are longtime season ticket holders to the San Joaquin Valley Town Hall lecture series, which have been enlightening and entertaining Fresno residents and people from the surrounding area for 80 years.
“He has a wonderful delivery,” said David Delaurant of Fresno, a retired librarian.
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Barry, 69, wrote a humor column for 20 years at the Miami Herald and still writes occasionally for the paper. He’s the author of several humor books, but as his biography states, he may best be known as the originator of “Talk Like a Pirate Day,” held Sept. 19.
“Most of the time, I embarrass myself,” he told the audience. “When I write a column I don’t always know what’s going to happen. Sometimes they backfire on me.”
He once wrote a column poking fun at North Dakota after reading a news article that leaders in the state held a conference on improving the state’s image (this was pre-oil boom.)
“Learn this,” he said. “Do not mess with North Dakota,” He ended up going to North Dakota in January to attend the dedication of a sewage lift station named in his honor – Dave Barry Lift Station No. 16.
“I say in all honesty, it’s a little bit of a tourist attraction.”
He had this advice for the Trump administration on how to build a border wall: “If we really want to stop immigration, here’s the simple way to do it. We take any state department of transportation – I would recommend Florida’s – send it down to the border and say ‘fix the roads’ between us and Mexico. Nobody will ever get through again.”
Instead of sending ground troops to Syria, he would send bombers: “We are under-utilizing our most powerful force … I would open the bomb door and I would drop (pause) lawyers … If that didn’t work I would drop more lawyers, and if that didn’t work I would put parachutes on the lawyers.”
On health care, he said, “If I were president of the United States, my highest priority would be for the medical profession to find a way to the prostate gland other than the way they are getting to it now.”
He also told a lot of jokes about Florida, where he still lives.
“Florida, you can’t spell it without a ‘Duh,’ ” he said, referring to the presidential election of 2000.
“We’re the Ellis Island for stupid, weird people,” he said. Once, a police officer pulled over an elderly man driving a Chevrolet Cobalt. That wasn’t as unusual as “where they stopped him – Runway 9, Miami International Airport,” he said. The driver had gone through a fence.
When he was writing columns, the Oscar Mayer company asked if he’d like to ride in the famous Wienermobile for a day.
“I said ‘heck yes.’ I knew exactly what I wanted to do. I wanted to pick my son up at middle school,” he said. Which he did.
The audience could hardly stop laughing, and the hour went by quickly.
“He’s hilarious,” said Karen Walker of Fresno, a retired clinical social worker. “I love Dave Barry. I’ve missed his columns. He’s just so natural.”
“I haven’t laughed this hard in a long time,” said Cheryl Waterhouse of Fresno, a veterinarian.
Former Fresno County Supervisor Susan Anderson, a Town Hall volunteer, said she had the opportunity to meet Barry at a gathering on Tuesday.
“He’s a naturally funny guy,” she said. “I think he’d be great as a friend.”
(Note: The original version of this story incorrectly identified Anderson as Susan Hall.)