Those who came to UNC Pembroke's Givens Performing Arts Center December 2 to hear Dave Barry's wisdom on the profound and universal truths or life did not leave empty handed.
Barry, a Pulitzer Prize-winning syndicated columnist, spoke to an audience of 800 as part of UNCP's Distinguished Speaker Series.
Barry's commentary revealed what was on his mind, and it is a mind cluttered with humorous anecdotes, including a story of his run-in with the President George Bush's mother.
"Back when I was a news journalist, I was put next to Barbara Bush for a picture," Barry said. "You know that feeling when you realize your lips are moving when they shouldn't be?" "Well, out of all the things I could have said, I told the president's mom that I shopped at the same grocery store as her son, Jeb."
The First Lady replied, "We just celebrated Jeb's 39th birthday,'" Barry said. "And I answered by saying, 'He sure is tall.'" To which she said, "'He didn't grow just this year.'"
Apparently, the First Lady was not too impressed with Barry. "Now I know what causes spontaneous human combustion - sometimes it's just your best option," he said.
Barry told numerous stories about the "not so bright moments" in life. His favorite news story - and he swears it is true - involves a whale and dynamite.
"In Oregon, a storm washed this giant whale onto the beach. It died and had been there for quite a while," Barry said. "They brought in the Oregon Highway Division to clear it out."
Barry questioned this move and was entertained when, in a television news statement, the Division shared their plan for clearing the whale from the beach.
"They were going to take dynamite and put it under the whale and blow it up," Barry said. "That's when I knew these were not the right guys to call because they have obviously never removed a whale from the beach."
They wanted the seagulls and scavengers to clean up the whale after the explosion, he said. "Soon the Highway Division learned what nobody warned them about .. gravity," Barry said. "And, there weren't any seagulls around after the explosion."
Barry talked about how he started as a newspaper reporter for a small paper, appropriately named The Daily Local News.
"I was terrible at interviewing people," he said. "You ask questions, take notes and go make something up. Finally, I decided to take out the middle step."
Barry's stand-up routine was appreciated by a large GPAC audience, said Student Activities Director Abdul Ghaffar, who coordinates the Distinguished Speaker Series.
"I don't know when I have laughed so hard that it hurt," Ghaffar said. "Anyone who could not come to the show should catch WNCP-TVs taped interview with Barry. It's great."
The 30-minute interview with UNCP's host Mike DeCinti, of the broadcasting program, will be aired on Time Warner's local channel six.
The last speaker to hit the GPAC stage as part of the Distinguished Speaker Series is Spike Lee on February 2. Tickets are $10 and may be purchased in advance.