Case Study On Dave Barry Essay, Research Paper
Much can be learned about Dave Barry’s personal life by reading his books, which are compilations of the articles that he has written. His articles can be seen every Sunday in the Daily Break section of The Virginian-Pilot. He is a comedy writer who often points out annoying aspects of everyday life and makes fun of them. All of the following excerpts have been taken from the book entitled, “Dave Barry is not making this up” (unless otherwise noted).
He uses a lot of parentheses to add asides, which further explain what he has written. Another technique in his writing that I have noticed is personification, sometimes in the form of quotes. All of these techniques are used in the following excerpts from an article entitled, “Food For Thought.”
Another problem is that our ant is starting to sag, both in the front (or, in entomological terms, the “prognosis”) and in the rear (or “butt”). It doesn’t look like one of those alert, businesslike, “can-do” ants that you see striding briskly around. It looks depressed, like an ant that has just been informed that all 86,932 members of its immediate family were crushed while attempting to lift a Tootsie Roll.
But the ants that showed up at our experiment were total morons. You’d watch one, and it would sprint up to a Cocoa Krispie, and then stop suddenly, as if saying: “Yikes! Compared with me, this Cocoa Krispie is the size of a Buick!” then it would sprint off in a random direction. Sometimes it would sprint back; sometimes it would sprint to another Cocoa Krispie and act surprised again. but it never seemed to do anything. There were thousands of ants behaving this way, and every single time two of them met, they’d both stop and exchange “high-fives” with their antennas, along with, I assume, some kind of ant pleasantries (”Hi Bob! “No, I’m Bill!” “Sorry! You look just like Bob!”). This was repeated millions of times. I watched these ants for two days, and they accomplished nothing. It was exactly like highway construction. It wouldn’t have surprised me if some ants started waving orange flags to direct other insects around the area.
A technique found often in Barry’s articles are graphic indicators, especially italics. The above excerpt shows how he uses them to indicate exaggeration (”This was repeated millions of times”) and also to emphasize words (”…accomplished nothing). Notice also how he uses allusions to refer to real objects (Tootsie Roll, Cocoa Krispie, and Buick). This is perhaps the single most common technique found in his writing.
In the article “Crime Busters,” he uses a technique known as role-playing between himself, his friend Calvin, and a criminal; combined with capitalization, parenthesis, and quotes. Barry takes a frightening event (being “held-up” by a robber) and manages to turn it humorous using these techniques.
Also, two guns was definitely overkill. According to my calculations, two guns figures out to one gun per hand, which raises the question: How was the criminal planning to take our wallets? Was he going to ask us to hold one of his guns for him? Was he going to have us stick the wallets in his mouth? If so, he would have had trouble giving us our postrobbery instructions, such as “Don’t try following me!” or “don’t try anything funny!”
CRIMINAL (with his hands in his pockets and our wallets in his mouth): Donghh ghry angyghing ghunny!
CRIMINAL: (getting angry): DONGHH GHRY ANGYGHING GHUNNY!
CALVIN: I think he’s saying “Don’t I have a big tummy.”
ME: (hastily): No! You’re very svelte! Really! Sir!
But the criminal’s silliest move, in my opinion, was threatening to blow both of our heads off. That would be an absurd waste of bullets. A much more efficient way to gain our cooperation would have been to simply blow Calvin’s head off. I would then have cooperatively handed over Calvin’s wallet.
He is able to blend in a surprising number of techniques into a very readable, humorous paragraph. Notice his usage of rhetorical questions, also. Barry uses this technique often, perhaps to get his point across to the reader. He uses them in the excerpt below (”False Alarm”), after stating that someone is breaking into his house.
You always wonder what you’re going to do in a situation like this. Run? Fight? Wet your pants?
A rhetorical question directly pointed at the reader (by use of italics) is also an effective technique. This is from “Mustang Davey”, an article about which songs should be played on the radio.
Again, you may disagree with me, but if you know so much, how come the radio industry didn’t randomly survey you?
Occasionally found in Barry’s work is onomonaptoeia. Also from “False “Alarm”, the following excerpt shows how he uses this technique.
So I fall out of the bed, barely conscious, and stagger to the back door, where both dogs are waiting, and I open the door and BWEEPBWEEPBWEEP I realize that I have failed to disarm the alarm system.
Perhaps what makes his articles so funny is that nearly all of them are based around things that many people can relate to. We read about his problems in his own life, and they remind us of ours.
But this leaves Earnest and Zippy alone out on the patio. Theoretically, they can get from the patio to our backyard all by themselves. They used to be prevented from doing this by a screen enclosure around the patio, but thanks to Hurricane Andrew, most of this enclosure is now orbiting the Earth. The hurricane did NOT blow away the screen door, however. It’s still standing there, and the dogs firmly believe that it’s still the only way out. So–I swear I’m not making this up–instead of going two feet to the left or right, where there’s nothing to prevent them from simply wandering out into the yard, they trot directly to the door, stop, then turn around to look at me with a look that says “Well?”
“GO OUTSIDE!” I yell at them as I lunge toward the alarm control panel. “THERE’S NO SCREEN ANYMORE, YOU MORONS!”
“I beg your pardon?” says the Cheerful Alarm Lady, because this is not the Secret Password.
Also, that excerpt exhibits a technique usually only seen in very informal writing- capitalizing the first letter of a word or phrase that wouldn’t ordinarily be capitalized. He does this to “Cheerful Alarm Lady” and “Secret Password” to denote some importance to these two things, almost like someone would refer to God, or the Earth.
As you can see, Dave Barry’s topics include real life situations, such as crime, pets, and children’s science fair projects. He uses techniques such as italics, quotes, parenthesis, and personification to reflect his ideas to the reader. The combination of the subject matter he uses and his techniques make his reading very humorous and easy to read.