Humorist Dave Barry challenges Florida’s image as a ‘subtropical festival of stupid’ in new book | St. Louis Public Radio

Humorist Dave Barry challenges Florida’s image as a ‘subtropical festival of stupid’ in new book

Sep 6, 2016

Humorist and former journalist Dave Barry is a native of New York, which might have some people raising eyebrows at the title of his new book: “Best. State. Ever.: A Florida Man Defends His Homeland.


“I’ve been here for 30 years now, which in Florida terms, makes me a Floridian,” Barry told St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh. “This is a state where most people are from somewhere else. … I can’t imagine living anywhere else at this point.”

Later this month, Barry will be at the Ethical Society to give a talk about his new book. You can find information about that event here.

The Pulitzer Prize winning author takes readers from Key West to the Panhandle and everywhere in between in this most recent book, released Sept. 6, which takes on “the state’s acquired image as a subtropical festival of stupid.”

Barry charts this association back to the 2000 presidential election, which was mired with issues and ultimately required a recount. National news networks, baffled at the idea Floridians couldn’t operate punch ballots, started making fun of Florida. That stuck.

“Every day there are stories from Florida of people doing weird things — some of them astonishingly weird. It keeps snowballing,” Barry said. “Now we have taken over all other states as the weird state. Part of that is justified. We have only six percent of the nation’s population, but we produce 56 percent of the nation’s weirdness. We are a weird state, but I wanted to address why some of those things happen, it isn’t really our fault, and to address the lesser known parts of Florida that are endearing.”

The weirdness will likely continue in this election year with Florida’s 29 electoral votes. Barry traveled to the Republican and Democratic National Conventions earlier this year to write about them for the Miami Herald, his former employer.

Barry said that writing humorously about this election is surprisingly difficult “when the candidates themselves are parodying themselves.”

Humor has long been a comfort to Barry, who was named in 1965 his high school’s “class clown.”

“I got told by more than one teacher, ‘oh, that’s very funny, Dave, but you can’t joke your way through life,’” Barry said. “Turns out you can make a career being funny.”

It wasn’t until his mid-thirties that Barry was able to make full-time career from his humorous writings.

Listen to the conversation with Barry, which ranges from night clubs, alligators, pythons and other Florida wildlife to his writing after September 11:St. Louis on the Air, we’ll hear from humorist Dave Barry whose writing spans fiction, nonfiction, humor and parody.

Related Event

What: Dave Barry Discussion and Signing

When: Monday, Sept. 19 at 7:00 p.m.
Where: Ethical Society of St. Louis, 9001 Clayton Rd., St. Louis, MO 63117
More information.

St. Louis on the Air brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh and producers Mary Edwards, Alex Heuer and Kelly Moffitt give you the information you need to make informed decisions and stay in touch with our diverse and vibrant St. Louis region.