Make My Day
A PLAGUE OF THREE-LEGGED FROGS
by Erik Deckers
American Reporter Humor Writer
SYRACU.S.E, Ind. -- It's always sad when your childhood heroes and heroines have passed from being the greatest thing since sliced bread (which was invented soon after the bread knife) to the butt of jokes and derisive laughter.
This is now happening to my literary hero, Dave Barry. I've poked fun at Dave for as long as I've been a humor columnist, commenting on his literary cornucopia of boogers and other bodily functions. But it was this same Dave Barry that inspired me to become a humor columnist in the first place. So if you want to blame anyone for the humor tirade I've inflicted on you for the past seven-and-a-half years, call him.
Dave is now so popular that he's the measuring stick with which all other humor writers are . . . well, measured. In fact, in my humor writers discussion group, we have been grumbling that none of us can get a decent break because Dave has the whole syndicated humor column market all sewn up.
Over the past several years, Dave has become the Microsoft of the humor world, and all us little guys are Macintosh: we publicly support and admire Dave's work, but late at night, we secretly jab needles into our little Dave Barry voodoo dolls.
Some say Dave's material is predictable, and that you just know what he's going to say each week. Office pools have sprung up around the country, taking bets on the number of times he'll say "booger" or "fart," whether write about actual letters sent in by his millions of readers, write about his own literary rock band (Stephen King and Amy Tan are also members), or mention how an odd phrase would be a good name for a rock band. But seriously, "Odd phrase" WOULD be a good name for a rock band.
In fact, one Dave Barry maven, Bennett Haselton, has even gone so far as to create a Website that will write your very own Dave Barry column for you. According to Haselton, this was originally done as a lark, and he tried to keep the existence of the Website a secret while he tried to contact the Miami Herald (Dave's home paper) to make sure he wouldn't be sued for creating it.
In the meantime, search engines began picking up the Website as people searched for Dave Barry, and word of the site got around. Eventually, Haselton got a postcard from Dave's research department saying that the site was okay. However, it's still an unofficial fan site and is not endorsed by Dave or his publishers. So booger on, Bennett!
The AutoDave page asks you to fill in short, yet comical answers to 20 simple questions. Then, when you hit a button, it will generate the column for you.
Some of the questions on the site include things like "Enter a plural noun. The weirder the better," "Give me an insult. Go wild." "Your boss is about to discover that your bungling caused an accounting error of $2 million, what do you say?" and "Enter your standard procedure for unclogging toilets."
So, I answered all the questions, and came up with the following column (special thanks to Bennett Haselton and AutoDave for helping me write one-third of this week's column):
"Recently in Syracuse, Indiana (motto: "Don't you ever shut up?!"), residents reported an outbreak of three-legged toads. Perhaps you think there are no three-legged toads in Syracuse, Indiana. Perhaps you are an idiot.
"As the French say, au contraire (literally: "Your face is the twin of a baboons red butt"). I have here in my hands a copy of an Associated Press article sent in by alert reader Teresa, whose name can be rearranged to spell "TAESRE", although that is not my main point. "Teresa", by the way, only has the letters "eesa" in common with "Monica Lewinsky", so there is no other reason to mention Monica Lewinsky in this column.
"According to a quote which I am not making up, from Syracuse, Indiana Mayor Evanston (formally "Mayor Evanston" and informally "Billy Ray"), three-legged toads ranks as a major crisis just behind football, beer and pizza (insert your "more beer" joke here), as evidenced by the following conversation between Syracuse, Ind., government employees:
First Syracuse, Ind., Employee: "Oh man, this is going to hurt!"
Second Syracuse, Ind., Employee: "It's not my fault. He did it."
First Syracuse, Ind., Employee: "What do you think you're doing?"
"Fortunately I have a suggestion for Mayor Billy Ray, and that is: kick him in George Steinbrenner's privates.
"No, seriously, my suggestion does not involve George Steinbrenner's privates, although it might involve beating up Tobacco Institute scientists. My suggestion is more along the lines of a coup de grace, from the French coup, meaning "short-sighted", and de grace, meaning "stupidity". The procedure (you may want to write this down):
"1. Eject them all into the sun;
"2. Swear, flush, plunge, swear, flush, plunge;
"But instead the Syracuse, Indiana city council (motto: "We'll function efficiently when you pry the coffee mug out of our cold, dead fingers") thinks that they (the three-legged toads) will lose their fingers in gardening accidents soon, sending this message to the public, and to the world: "I hate vegetables".
"Speaking of which, "The Syracuse, Indiana Three-legged toads Outbreak" would be a great name for a rock band."
I'll always be a big admirer of Dave. He made it cool for humor columnists to talk about bodily functions. Without him, I would never have had the courage to write about things like towns named Booger Holler, Oregon, even though it's really named Burp Holler. And without his influence I certainly never would have even considered humor writing something that respectable people do in polite society, even though no one else does. And for that I salute him.
But I swear, if he steals the band name "Swear Flush Plunge," I'm suing him for every penny he's got.
This a reprint of Erik's Sept., 1999, column. The AutoDave page was then at http://peacefire.org/staff/bennett/autodave/autodave.html, and it may still be.