Barry hits home with humor

By Becky Gottel

Big Trouble by Dave Barry

I was totally disturbed by the front cover of “Big Trouble,” which boasts a picture of Tim Allen and Rene Russo and the tag “Soon to be a major motion picture.” The movie came out in 2002 and I do not know anyone who has seen it.

But, regardless of its “big trouble” as a movie, I loved “Big Trouble” the book by Dave Barry. It is a hilarious story about 10 to 15 characters whose lives eventually collide at the Miami airport where they have followed a nuclear bomb in a suitcase. Most of them have been shot at by this point. And no, if you’re wondering, there is no deeper meaning than that.

You can fly through this book. It’s not so much the clever plot, but its brilliant humor (which Barry creates without ripping anyone apart – with the exception of Miami, which does take some ribbing). It’s not as tight and sharp as his other writing – he works better in his standard column form because the book is missing his knack for describing the current flavor of politics, world events, trends and family life. He still works in some of his standard jokes on teenagers:

“This sound system sucks.” Matt had great contempt for any sound system that was not loud enough to stun cattle.

“Why’d your dad buy a Kia?” asked Andrew.

“‘Cause he’s a dork,” explained Matt.

Andrew nodded understandingly. His dad was a dork, too. It seemed like everybody’s dad was a dork. It amazed Matt and Andrew that their generation had turned out so cool.

Overall, it is so refreshing to have a comedian make fun of everyone and everything. Barry is not discriminating or political; he can just see humor everywhere. For instance, if you have ever had a job, you’ll appreciate Barry’s descriptions of interactions with my favorite minor character – “Big Fat Client from Hell”:

Eliot Arnold, of Eliot Arnold Advertising and Public Relations (which consisted of Eliot Arnold), nodded thoughtfully, as though he thought the Client From Hell was making a valid point. In fact, Eliot was thinking it was a good thing that he was one of the maybe fifteen people in Miami who did not carry a loaded firearm, because he would definitely shoot the Client From Hell in his fat, glistening forehead.

At times like these – and there were many times like these – Eliot wondered if maybe he’d been a bit hasty quitting the newspaper. Especially the way he’d done it, putting his foot through the managing editor’s computer. He’d definitely burned a bridge there.

Barry makes a few missteps in his quest for humor. In the middle of the book, there is a kidnap scene with an implied possibility of rape. As a young female, it’s actually not very funny when an insane man with too many guns and too few marbles kidnaps one of the main characters – a young female – so that she can be his girlfriend.

Other than that, the only other major problem was that “Big Trouble” is somewhat embarrassing to read because, if you are like me, there is a great risk you will start giggling in public. Luckily, those around me at Za’s were forgiving.