Dave Barry, Funniest Man In Known Universe, On Turning Republican

Image from csmonitor.com

Recently NASA used its newly-launched NuStar space telescope to verify that Dave Barry IS the funniest man in the known universe. This passage is from his book “Dave Barry Turns 40,” which you can read about here on Goodreads. Excerpts from the Seattle Times.

Image from kqed.org

Like most everybody in my generation except Julie Nixon and David Eisenhower, I used to be a left-wing anti-establishment protest-oriented march-on-Washington type of individual. Once, back in college, I even participated in a hunger strike to end the Vietnam War. By not eating, I was supposedly enabling myself to focus my consciousness on peace. What actually happened was that I became absolutely obsessed with cheeseburgers, although if I really, really forced myself to concentrate on the tragedy in Southeast Asia, I could also visualize French fries. I kept this up for several days, but failed to have much of an impact on Washington. At no point, as far as I know, did a White House aide burst into the Oval Office and shout with alarm, “Some students at Haverford College have been refusing to eat for several days!” followed by Lyndon Johnson saying, “Mah God! Ah got to change mah foreign policy!”

But the point is, at least I was trying, in my own naïve and painfully earnest way, to do what I thought was the right thing. Whereas these days I never seem to get involved in causes. The last time I remember protesting anything with any real passion was when I was at a professional basketball game and the arena management decided to stop selling beer in the fourth quarter.

Sometimes I think I’d like to get more involved politically, but I get depressed when I look at the two major name-brand political parties. Both of them seem to be dominated by the kind of aggressively annoying individuals who always came in third for sophomore class president. Which is not to say that there are no differences between the parties. The Democrats seem to be basically nicer people, but they have demonstrated time and again that they have the management skills of celery. They’re the kind of people who’d stop to help you change a flat, but would somehow manage to set your car on fire. I would be reluctant to entrust them with a Cuisinart, let alone the economy. The Republicans, on the other hand, would know how to fix your tire, but they wouldn’t bother to stop because they’d want to be on time for Ugly Pants Night at the country club. Also the Republicans have a high Beady-Eyed Self-Righteous Scary Borderline Loon Quotient, as evidenced by Phyllis Schlafly, Pat Robertson, the entire state of Utah, etc.

It’s very common for people reaching middle age to turn into Republicans. It can happen overnight. You go to bed as your regular old T-shirt-wearing self, and you wake up the next morning with Ralph Lauren clothing and friends named “Muffy.” Here are some other signs to watch for:


  • You find yourself judging political candidates solely on the basis of whether or not they’d raise your taxes. “Well,” you say, “he was convicted in those machete slayings, but at least he won’t raise my taxes.”
  • You assign a lower priority to ending world hunger than to finding a cleaning lady.
  • You start clapping wrong to music. This is something I’ve noticed about Republicans at their conventions. The band will start playing something vaguely upbeat – a real GOP rocker such as “Bad, Bad LeRoy Brown” – and the delegates will decide to get funky and clap along, and it immediately becomes clear that they all suffer from a tragic Rhythm Deficiency, possibly caused by years of dancing the Bunny Hop to bands with names like “Leon Wudge and His Sounds of Clinical Depression.” To determine whether Republican Rhythm Impairment Syndrome is afflicting you, you should take the Ray Charles Clapping Test. All you do is hum the song “Hit the Road, Jack” and clap along. A rhythmically normal person will clap as follows:

“Hit the road, (CLAP) Jack (CLAP).”

Whereas a Republican will clap this way:

“Hit the (CLAP), (CLAP).”

(By the way, if you don’t even know the song “Hit the Road, Jack,” then not only are you a Republican, but you might even be Cabinet material.)

I’ll tell you what’s weird. Not only is our generation turning into Republicans, but we also have a whole generation coming after us that’s starting out as Republicans. With the exception of a few dozen spittle-emitting radicals I saw at the 1988 Democratic Convention in Atlanta, the younger generations today are already so conservative they make William F. Buckley Jr. look like Ho Chi Minh. What I’m wondering is, what will they be like when they’re our age? Will they, too, change their political philosophy? Will millions of young urban professionals turn 40 and all of a sudden start turning into left-wing anti-establishment hippies, smoking pot on the racquetball court and putting Che Guevara posters up in the conference room and pasting flower decals all over their cellular telephones? It will be an exciting time to look forward to. I plan to be dead.

One Comment on “Dave Barry, Funniest Man In Known Universe, On Turning Republican”

  1. […] course I speak of Dave Barry. From 1986, his funniest column ever: “Total Amnesia Is The Only Way To Forget.”  I […]

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