• June 2011

The Funny Issue

How important is humor in the workplace? Very, according to Dave Barry, who with his brother, fellow funny man Sam Barry, are our June Entrepreneurs of the Month. They help us answer the question of why laughing out loud is the key to success in business, and life.

This month we also feature some other funny folks:

  • Brad Montgomery, author of Humor Me! asks, “Why put up with unnecessary stress when there’s something you can do about it that’s fun, free, and fairly easy to learn?” Read more here.
  • Our Inkandescent ART DIRECTOR Michael Gibbs had fun interviewing Hal Mayforth, the illustrator of Dave Barry’s column that for years ran in The Washington Post. How did Mayforth get into the funny pages? “I come from a fairly wacky family,” he explains. “The humor was always there.”
  • Our LEADERSHIP columnist Robin McDougal reviews that Bill Cosby classic, Cosbyology. Later this year, we’ll be interviewing the Cos himself.
  • June is Prom Month and author Lee Woodruff, shares her perfectly imperfect insights on mothering a teenager through “The Proposal,” in this month’s PARENTING column.
  • Comedienne Fran Capo, the world’s fastest talking female and our TRULY AMAZING WOMAN of the Month, shares 10 Tips on How to Use Humor Effectively in Your Presentations.
  • Speaking of the healing powers of having fun, don’t miss this month’s HEALTHY LIVING column where Jill Leslie goes green — avocado, actually — to teach us how to play with our food to whip up healing facials.
  • Our FASHION column features the fabulous lids for sale at Hats in the Belfy, founded by Courtney Garton.
  • Because our goal is to help entrepreneurs grow their businesses, this month we shoot up the fireworks in anticipation of our July launch of www.inkandescentnetworking.com — our new service that lists networking events in eight cities along the East Coast (Annapolis, Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, and Washington, DC.) Do check out the networking events happening in those cities this June. And contact us to learn how you can benefit from this opportunity.

As Oscar Wilde said, “Life is too important to be taken seriously.” Here’s to that. — Hope Katz Gibbs, Be Inkandescent Magazine

Sam + Dave Barry Teach Us: Why It's Important to Be Funny


We’ve heard it before: Laughter is the best medicine. Funny brothers Dave and Sam Barry share some thoughts on why humor is mission-critical in their lives.

By Hope Katz Gibbs
Be Inkandescent Magazine

Odds are good that if you have been awake for some of the past 20 years, you know Dave Barry. The humor columnist (pictured right) has been syndicated in more than 500 newspapers in the United States and abroad. In 1988, he won the Pulitzer Prize for Commentary, and his book, “Dave Barry Turns 40,” became the basis for a TV show that ran for four seasons on CBS.

Dave has also written dozens of fiction and nonfiction books, two of which were used as the basis for the CBS TV sitcom “Dave’s World,” in which Harry Anderson played Dave. He also plays in a band with other famous authors — including Stephen King, Amy Tan, Ridley Pearson and Mitch Albom — called The Rock Bottom Remainders. For more information, visit Dave’s blog.

What you may not know is that Dave has a very funny brother named Sam. When he isn’t working as a marketing manager for HarperOne, a division of HarperCollins, Sam writes books — including “How to Play the Harmonica: and Other Life Lessons.” And, with his wife and literary provocateur Kathi Kamen Goldmark, he co-authored, Write That Book Already!

Like his brother, Sam is a musician. He plays in and around San Francisco in the band Los Train Wreck, and tours with the all-author rock band the Rock Bottom Remainders. For more, visit Sam at www.kathiandsam.net.

Be Inkandescent: Why is it important to be funny in the workplace?

Dave: Because if you can’t laugh in the workplace, you’ll eventually go insane. Also, if you’re funny, usually your co-workers will like you.

Sam: Most workplaces, even good ones, suffer from a lack of humor. There is a mistaken notion that work and laughter are antithetical, when in fact, humor loosens us up, relieving stress and encouraging creativity.

Be Inkandescent: What is the funniest thing that ever happened to you in the office?

Dave: This actually happened on the roof of my office, but: I once shot a Barbie doll out of a cannon. Everyone should do this at least once.

Sam: I was getting some painkiller from the medicine cabinet in the office kitchen when I dropped the little packet. I leaned over, picked it up, and when I stood I hit my head on the cabinet door. I was somewhat embarrassed and so hastily took my medicine and tried to return to my desk, but several people pointed out I really needed to get to the hospital. This was when I noticed that blood was pouring out of a gash on my head. I continued to insist that I was fine as I was taken to the hospital, where they administered stitches. I guess you had to be there.

Be Inkandescent: Even when things aren’t funny — do you try to find the humor? How do you manage it?

Dave: I was raised in a family where pretty much everything sooner or later became something we laughed about. Obviously if something really bad happens, it won’t seem funny at the time. But eventually you can find some humor in almost any situation.

Sam: I’m not sure I manage it. It’s more that when confronted with something difficult or absurd, a humorous perspective just emerges.

For example, last June some of the Rock Bottom Remainders (Dave, Ridley Pearson, Scott Turow, Amy Tan, Roy Blount, Jr., and my wife, Kathi Kamen Goldmark) were guests on National Public Radio’s “All Songs Considered.” Our ringer, rock star Roger McGuinn, was also there. There was a keyboard set up and I was asked to play “Wild Thing.”

Now, I am a good musician and I can play “Wild Thing” in my sleep, but for some reason my fingers just forgot what to do. For a moment I felt terrible, and then we all joked about what had just happened, which was a classic Remainders moment. We rallied and Scott belted out “Wild Thing” while everyone joined in. After that, Roger played “May the Road Rise to Meet You,” so there was some actual music played that day.

Be Inkandescent: You have both had illustrious careers. Do you attribute your success to the fact that you see the inane / lighter / brighter side of things?

Dave: I have built my entire career out of thinking up jokes. It has been decades since I did anything useful.

Sam: I have a career?

Be Inkandescent: Were you both funny people as children? What was it like at the dinner table?

Dave: Our parents were funny people, and humor was much valued in our family. We all tried to make each other laugh, and we were pretty good at it.

Sam: Our mom, in particular, had a wonderful, dark sense of humor. It was hard to go too far with jokes around her. Our dad was no slouch, either. All my siblings — Katy, Dave, and Phil — are funny people.

Walking back from our dad’s gravesite after the funeral, my mom stopped to read the name on a gravestone and then said, “That’s why I haven’t seen him around.” Our dad was a very kind man, but he didn’t suffer fools gladly; he really appreciated his wife’s sense of humor.

Be Inkandescent: It has been said that comedians are a little sad down deep. Do you agree?

Dave: Sort of. I think a lot of humor comes from feeling inadequate or unpopular; you want to make people laugh because you want their attention and approval.

I also think some comedians are pretty angry people, and their anger fuels their humor. I’ve definitely written some humor columns that began with my being upset about something.

But I also think there are plenty of funny people, including professionally funny people, who are reasonably happy. I’m pretty happy, most of the time.

Sam: I think all human beings are sad at some level. You’d have to be out of touch not to feel some sadness in life, and one of the primary ways we cope is to use humor. Comedians are simply striking examples of this universal trait.

Be Inkandescent: Of course, it has also been said that laughter is the best medicine? Do you think humor can keep you healthy?

Dave: It probably doesn’t hurt to laugh. Whereas it probably does take a physical toll to go around being pissed off all the time.

Sam: I agree with that, though it conjures an image of a doctor with a German accent saying, “You must laugh three times a day, preferably with a meal.”

Be Inkandescent: Have there been any real bummers in your careers? If so, did humor help you?

Dave: Professionally I’ve had some bad experiences, and a few utter failures. I can’t say I always saw the humor in those situations right away, but usually I could in a day or so. I’ve learned over the years not to waste a lot of time dwelling on stuff I can’t go back and change.

Sam: When faced with failure and disappointment, humor plays a crucial role in keeping despair at bay.

Be Inkandescent: Dave — Did any of the columns that you thought were a riot fall flat on your readers? How about your long-running TV show? Did that turn out to be as cool an experience as it seemed to viewers?

Dave: I’ve had a few columns that didn’t resonate with readers the way I thought they would. But it balances out — sometimes a column I really didn’t think much about would get a great response. As for the TV show: It was more of a strange experience, really, since I wasn’t writing it. It was nice to get money in exchange for not doing anything, but it was weird to have a character with my name doing wacky things on TV.

Be Inkandescent: Music is a also a big part of both of your lives. Do you find that music has similar positive effects to laughter?

Dave: Music definitely makes me feel better. Unfortunately I am not anywhere near as good at it as Sam is, so I don’t think my music makes anybody else feel better.

Sam: Yes, yes, absolutely yes. Music is so powerful. I also want to say that Dave is a way better musician than he lets on.

For more, click here to learn why Dave Barry says, I’ll Mature When I’m Dead.

Why Dave Barry Says: 'I'll Mature When I'm Dead'

The Funniest Man in America

By Hope Katz Gibbs
Be Inkandescent Magazine

The moniker was given to Barry by the New York Times, and who is to argue? The comic genius masquerading as a journalist has written more than two dozen nonfiction books, several screenplays that have become films, and 10 works of fiction — including seven Peter Pan prequels with his friend and fellow Rock Bottom Remainders band member, Ridley Pearson. Their latest from the Starcatchers series is “Peter and the Sword of Mercy.” In May, “Peter and the Starcatchers” became an off-Broadway show.

What led Barry down this illustrious path?

Early indications suggested the native of Armonk, NY, was destined for a life as a comic when he was elected “Class Clown” in 1965. He then headed to suburban Philadelphia to get his BA in English from Haverford College, and landed his first job in 1971 as a general assignment reporter for the Daily Local News in West Chester, PA. In addition to covering the community, he wrote a weekly humor column. By the time he took a job as a copy editor at The Associated Press’ Philadelphia Bureau, Barry had developed the foundation for what would become his unique comic writing style.

Corporate America captured the comedian for much of the 1970s. Barry worked at the Philadelphia consulting firm Burger Associates, where in his 1999 biography he is quoted as saying he spent eight years attempting to teach effective writing to business people. “I tried to get various businesspersons to … stop writing things like ‘Enclosed please find the enclosed enclosures,’ but … but eventually realized that it was hopeless.”

Gene Weingarten came to the rescue in 1983.

A well-known writer and editor at The Miami Herald (who is now a writer and editor at The Washington Post), Weingarten had read one of Barry’s humorous guest columns in the Philadelphia Inquirer. He lured the young Barry to work alongside him at Tropic, the Herald’s award-winning Sunday magazine. By 1988, Barry had won a Pulitzer Prize for Commentary “for his consistently effective use of humor as a device for presenting fresh insights into serious concerns.”

CBS brought Barry to prime time in the situation comedy, “Dave’s World” in the early 1990s. Based on his book, “Dave Barry Turns 40,” and “Dave Barry’s Greatest Hits,” the show lasted for four seasons and starred Harry Anderson as Barry, and DeLane Matthews as his wife, Beth. In an early episode, Barry made a cameo appearance.

Barry gave up his insanely successful long-time column on October 31, 2004, when he announced that he would be taking an indefinite leave of absence from his weekly humor column to spend more time with his family. He said that he would continue writing humor and books, and has stayed true to his word.

In April 2011, his latest paperback hit bookstores.

What celebs are saying about “I’ll Mature When I’m Dead: Dave Barry’s Amazing Tales of Adulthood.”

Actor Steve Martin said: “I’m so pleased to have received an advance copy of Dave’s book and use most of the material myself. He is truly the funniest man living in the three-mile ‘safe’ zone off the shores of America.”

Author Carl Hiaasen noted: “Despite years of medication, Dave Barry is still the funniest damn writer in the whole country. Let’s hope he never grows up.”

Writer P.J. O’Rourke added: Dave Barry’s best book so far, which is saying a lot. We in the print media are seeing our world collapse around us. There aren’t enough newspapers left to line the bottom of a canary cage. Magazines are thinner than hair. And ‘writing’ is done only on Wii. But here’s Dave Barry, flourishing like never before, with a book that’s funnier than ever, greeted with clamorous demand by eager hordes of fans. Let’s kill him.”

Makes you want to pick it up, yes?

That’s the point. And indeed, the 17 essays addressed in the book share his insights from the mileposts of his life. Here’s a taste.

From, “Father of the Groom” “I have no complaints about the wedding. I must say, however, that the planning of the wedding was a tad stressful, in the same sense that the universe is a tad spacious. And for good reason. Planning a modern wedding is comparable to constructing a nuclear power plant, although the wedding is more complex because a nuclear power plant does not require floral installations.”

From, “Judaism for Christians” “My wife is Jewish, and I am not. Most of the time this is not a problem, because neither of us is what I would call strongly religious. Especially not me. If I had a religion it would be called Jokeatarianism. We Jokeatarians believe it’s possible that an all-powerful, all-knowing God created the Earth and all its creatures, but if He did, He was obviously kidding.”

From, “A Practical, Workable Plan for Saving the Newspaper Business” “The American newspaper industry is in serious trouble. How serious? Consider: In 1971, when I was hired for my first newspaper job, there were 62 million newspaper subscribers in the United States; today, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulation, there are 12, an estimated five of whom are dead and therefore unlikely to renew. What the heck happened?”

Other chapters include thoughts on other life topics including, “If You Will Just Shut Up, I Can Explain: A Man Answers Questions from Women;” and “Tips for Visiting Miami — No. 1: Are You Insane?”

Perhaps best of all is his now famous essay, which first ran in The Miami Herald in 2008, “Colonoscopy.”

Barry says his hope for the book is simple.

“If these essays help you in some way — by teaching you something useful about relationships, or parenting, or just getting through the crazy thing we call adulthood — then I for one will be surprised.”

Click here to buy I’ll Mature When I’m Dead.

Sam Barry says: Write That Book Already!

“You want to write that book. You know you do,” says Sam Barry, who along with his wife Kathi Kamen Goldmark last year published Write That Book Already! (Adams Media; May 18, 2010; $14.95).

But how do you go from dream to reality?

“Maybe you are the world’s authority on the art of making butter sculptures of dead presidents’ heads, but if you want to sell a book on the subject you’ll have to do more than know your stuff,” the authors explain. “You’ll need to make the idea sound sexy, or cool, or hot, or timely, or cute, or something that instantly makes it clear to people why the world needs your book.”

This husband-and-wife team goes on to provide aspiring authors insight into the book publishing industry—from transforming an idea into a manuscript, to finding an agent, to working with an editor, to marketing the finished product.

“What’s most amazing is that we actually stayed married during the process of writing this book,” says Kathi with a slightly amazed, amused grin. “Our mission was to provide an informative yet entertaining mix of insider advice with plenty of personality, and get backup from literary personalities such as Stephen King, Amy Tan, Dave Barry, Roy Blount, Jr., and many more.”

There’s Nothing like Writing a Book

Like many dynamic women, Kathi has had many careers. She is a former teacher with a Master of Arts degree in Drama and Education, who has worked as a family planning educator (producing The Rock Project, a national radio campaign in which music stars recorded public service announcements urging teenagers to “think about having a child before you make a baby”).

One of the greatest joys of her life, she proudly admits, was becoming an author. “For someone who loves books, and after 17 years as a media escort, it’s such a thrill to be a published author myself,” notes the co-author of Mid-Life Confidential (Viking/Signet, 1994), which is by and about the Rock Bottom Remainders; The Great Rock & Roll Joke Book (St. Martin’s Press, 1997) with Dave Marsh; and the novel And My Shoes Keep Walking Back to You (Chronicle Books, 2002).

Sam, too, has worked in a variety of industries — including being a Presbyterian minister (“albeit a funny one,” Kathi says). He’s also the marketing and promotions manager at HarperOne, the author of “How to Play the Harmonica: and Other Life Lessons,” and a musician in the Rock Bottom Remainders and Kathi’s San Francisco band, Los Train Wreck.

Secrets to Writing That Book Already!

So when it came time for Sam and Kathi to pen a book about the industry that is near and dear to their hearts, they came up with an outline that answered all the tough questions.

Chapter One: Why We Write (and Why You Write, Too)
Chapter Two: You Have a Great Idea. So What?
Chapter Three: How to Get Started with the Write Stuff
Chapter Four: Your Manuscript: The Basic Rules of Attraction
Chapter Five: Finding an Agent
Chapter Six: Behind Closed Doors: Will They Buy Your Book?
Chapter Seven: You and Your Editor
Chapter Eight: Marketing and Publicity: Getting the Word Out
Chapter Nine: The Pros and Cons of Self-Publishing
Chapter Ten: For Sale: Bookstores, Bookselling, and Book Groups
Chapter Eleven: Long Life: Paperback and Backlist
Conclusion: What’s Next?

And there’s more:

Appendix I: Beloved Books of Famous Authors
Appendix II: The Life Cycle of a Book
Appendix III: Glossary of Publishing Terminology

“We wanted to provide writers with everything they would ever want — and need —to know about the industry from the inside out, including an overview of your book’s life cycle, from inspiration to publication and beyond,” says Sam. “We also wanted to give them some Tough Love advice to help keep their writing goals on track.”

Kathi says that she also felt compelled to provide step-by-step guidelines for writing book proposals and pitch letters. “We also wanted to give some tactical advice, such as counsel regarding when self-publishing is a good idea—and when it isn’t, and ideas for conquering writer’s block. So we included a special recipe for matzo ball soup. I mean, when you are really blocked nothing loosens you up like a steaming bowl of chicken broth with a giant matzo ball in the middle. Talk about comfort food.”

Sam and Kathi also felt it was essential to provide personal stories of writers who faced rejection and went on to publishing success. “Few people are hits right out of the chute, so you have to be smart about the process, tenacious — and good to yourself,” Sam adds, referring to the chapter on page 35 entitled, “Author Care 101.”

“There are various strategies when it comes to living the life of a writer,” they explain in the chapter “How to Get Started with the Write Stuff”. “One is to drink yourself silly, ruin your body, and destroy all your most important relationships, as many great writers have done. Or you can take care of yourself. We suggest the latter course.”

If you are ready to Write That Book Already!, click here to buy your copy.

Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.”

– Anais Nin

If people like you they’ll listen to you; if they trust you, they’ll do business with you.”

– Zig Ziglar

Normal day, let me be aware of the treasure you are. 
Let me not pass you by in quest of some rare and perfect tomorrow.”

– Mary Jean Irion

If you do work that you love, and the work fulfills you, the rest will come.”

– Oprah Winfrey

When we speak we are afraid our words will not be heard or welcomed. But when we are silent, we are still afraid. So it is better to speak.”

– Audre Lorde

Do not say, ‘why were the former days better than these,’ for it is not from wisdom that you ask this.”

– Ecclesiastes, 7:10

You only live once. But if you do it right, once is enough.”

– Mae West

What is the point of having free will if one cannot occasionally spit in the eye of destiny?”

– Jim Butcher, White Night

A man without a smiling face
 should not open a shop.”

– Chinese Proverb

The true entrepreneur is a doer, not a dreamer.”

– Nolan Bushnell, founder, Chuck E. Cheese's

If you were independently wealthy and never had to work a day in your life, would you still choose to spend your time attempting to become a successful entrepreneur?”

– Steven Schussler

Confidence is the most important thing you can teach someone… if you can teach them confidence, you don’t have to teach them anything else.”

– Vin Diesel

You don’t go into a field that requires cracking people’s heads open or operating on something as delicate as the spinal cord unless you are comfortable with taking risks.”

– Dr. Ben Carson

That which grows fast withers as rapidly; that which grows slowly endures.”

– J.G. Holland, novelist

Who cares if my glass is half empty or half full; I still have something to drink.”

– Optimism rules

Try not to become a man of success but rather to become a man of value.”

– Albert Einstein

The only way to compel men to speak good of us is to do it.”

– Voltaire

We never know how high we are
 till we are called to rise;
 And then, if we are true to plan,
 Our statures touch the skies.”

– Emily Dickinson

Destiny is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved.”

– William Jennings Bryan

The less effort, the faster and more powerful you will be.”

– Bruce Lee

Don’t think. Thinking is the enemy of creativity.”

– Ray Bradbury

Education is an admirable thing to have, but it is well to remember that nothing worth knowing can be taught.”

– Oscar Wilde

Ambition is the germ from which all growth of nobleness proceeds.”

– Thomas Dunn

As each woman realizes her power, she transforms the world.”

– Patrice Wynne, WomanSpirit Sourcebook

Destiny is a name often given in retrospect to choices that had dramatic consequences.”

– J.K. Rowling

That man is richest whose pleasures are the cheapest.”

– Henry David Thoreau

The best reason to start an organization is to create a product or service to make the world a better place.”

– Guy Kawasaki

Once you find something you love to do, be the best at doing it.”

– Debbi Fields, Mrs. Fields Cookies

If my mind can conceive it, and my heart can believe it, I know I can achieve it.”

– Jesse Jackson

The person who makes a success of living is the one who see his goal steadily and aims for it unswervingly. That is dedication.”

– Cecil B. DeMille

The only dream worth having is to live while you’re alive and die only when you’re dead.”

– Arundhati Roy

The biggest flaw in our existing theory of capitalism lies in its misrepresentation of human nature.”

– Muhammad Yunus

Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read.”

– Groucho Marx

Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which obstacles vanish.”

– John Quincy Adams

The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.”

– Carl Rogers

They who give have all things. They who withhold have nothing.”

– Hindu Proverb

Almost anyone can start a community, but it takes real talent and commitment to get people to show up and keep coming back.”

– Andy Sernovitz

No man will make a great leader who wants to do it all himself, or to get all the credit for doing it”

– Andrew Carnegie

Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence.”

– President Calvin Coolidge

We need to learn to set our course by the stars, not by the lights of every passing ship.”

– General Omar Bradley

When I was younger I thought success was being a star, driving nice cars, having groupies. But today I think the most important thing is to live your life with integrity.

– Ellen DeGeneres

When a dog runs at you, whistle for him.”

– Henry David Thoreau

Are you willing to help other people succeed even when it’s not a requirement of your job to be of assistance?”

– Steven Schussler

With ordinary talents and extraordinary perseverance, all things are attainable.”

– Sir Thomas Fowell Buxton

Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken-winged bird that cannot fly. Hold fast to dreams, for when dreams go, life is a barren field frozen with snow.”

– Langston Hughes

Do not follow where the path may lead. Go, instead, where there is no path and leave a trail.”

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

Friendship is the only cement that will hold the world together.”

– Woodrow Wilson

Treat the attainment of happiness in the same way an entrepreneur would approach building a business — with a vision, plan, goals, and a systematic approach.”

– Ted Leonsis

Do one thing every day that scares you.”

– Eleanor Roosevelt

The music is all around us. All you have to do is listen.”

– August Rush

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