A few minutes with Dave Barry


During SAS Global Forum, I had the privilege of sneaking backstage at the Technical Session to meet with keynote speaker Dave Barry. I made it abundantly clear to everyone involved, this meeting was all about me and my opportunity to meet a literary legend. The fact that I was on the hook to interview him for this blog -- well, that’s the price I had to pay for access.

During our meeting I asked Dave several questions that I thought our SAS readers might be curious about. He didn’t really answer any of those, but here are some things that he did talk about.

How did you get onto the “geek” circuit, speaking to technical audiences?

It’s not that I speak just to technical audiences. I’ll visit any group that wants a speaker, for any industry. Once, I spoke at a conference for casket manufacturers.

How do you psych yourself up to speak to a group of technical folks?

I make it clear what it is I’m there to talk about. I was an English major and I don’t know anything about business analytics. SAS would be insane to bring me in to speak about business analytics. In fact, I don’t think there is anyone who knows less about business analytics than I do.

I don’t know, I’ve seen some other speakers who seem to know less and still made it on stage.

No, I’m sure that I know less. If you we can get those other speakers and me in the same room, let’s have a pop quiz. I guarantee I’ll lose.

I’m really impressed with the way you correctly pronounce “SAS”.

When I took the job, the SAS contacts told me many times how to pronounce it. They wired my body with electrodes to deliver a shock if I ever say it “S-A-S”.

Before you got this gig, had you ever heard of SAS before?

[pause] No.

Really? The largest privately held software company in the world?

Nope. How about you? Have you ever heard of the world’s largest manufacturer of, say, compressor pumps?

Um, no.

See? There are lots of companies you never heard of that deliver goods that we all benefit from. In fact, SAS is the world’s largest manufacturer of compressor pumps. I’ll bet you didn’t know that.

But now you’ve done some research and you know something about SAS?

The one person I told about this SAS speaking engagement was my son. He works for The Miami Herald, doing some stuff with their database. I told him that I was going to speak at a SAS conference – he knew who you were. In fact, he asked me to bring him back a program.

You mean a copy of SAS?

Yes. Because he said he can’t afford it.

I have a copy right here on my laptop, and I’d be happy to give it to you. Except that I can’t afford it either. So…I guess you haven’t met Jim Goodnight, CEO of SAS?


If you get the chance, you really should meet him. (He’s got a lot of money.)

SAS is one of the few businesses these days that makes money. I’ve got to tell you, I think that the practice of making a product that people want and selling it to them in exchange for money is a really great way to do business.

See more coverage of the presentation on the SAS Global Forum blog.

Tags SAS GloFo

About Author

Chris Hemedinger

Director, SAS User Engagement

+Chris Hemedinger is the Director of SAS User Engagement, which includes our SAS Communities and SAS User Groups. Since 1993, Chris has worked for SAS as an author, a software developer, an R&D manager and a consultant. Inexplicably, Chris is still coasting on the limited fame he earned as an author of SAS For Dummies


  1. This has got to be one of the least informative interviews I have ever read.... However, very amusing.

  2. Thanks for the interview, Chris. But I note that you totally left out all the stuff I said about algorithms.

  3. Miami is my hometown, I grew up reading Dave in the Herald every week. He speaks the truth about the driving situation in Miami. My worse day of driving in the Triangle cannot compare to the daily adventure of driving in Miami.

    But I sure do miss the weather in the winter. I'm trying to figure out how to open a SAS winter office in Key Biscayne, anyone care to join me?

  4. Fred Janssen on

    Chris, great interview. I almost thought I was reading Abbott and Costello there for a minute.

  5. Beverly Brown on

    Wonder if Dave's son knows The Miami Herald won *TWO* Pull-It-Surprises using SAS? Somebody over there's got a license. Glad he didn't utter ess-ay-ess. Did somebody in my group suggest the electrodes?

  6. Pingback: Ridiculously high expectations - The SAS Dummy

  7. Pingback: Dave Barry’s keynote to SAS Global Forum - SAS Users Groups

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