In the Spotlight: The Founders of Talk Like a Pirate Day

Oh what luck me hearty’s! I found me mates sailing the high seas and asked them if I could feature them –  as we LOVE International Talk Like a Pirate Day around this ship!  Mark “Cap’n Slappy” Summers and John “Chumbucket” Baur were happy to oblige a fellow pirate.  This is what they had to say about International Talk Like a Pirate Day that has grown 80,000 strong on Facebook and is celebrated worldwide!

Have you always been a fan of pirates?

Cap’n Slappy: I think it would have been hard (and probably still is) to grow up in this country and NOT be a fan of pirates from an early age. Pirates make being unconventional cool. They not only break rules – they smash them up and sweep them under the carpet. But there is also something courageous about being a pirate – you are the “rebel hero!” When I was young – six or seven – my little brother, Pauly (now a cop) and I would play on a stack of timbers my dad was using to build his garage/workshop. We would shake our wooden swords at unseen ships that we imagined were coming close to our “deck” and fire invisible cannons. We could do this for hours. I think for three years in a row I dressed as a pirate for Halloween – using the same fake beard every year. (I can only imagine the horror my mom felt as she saw me appear in full pirate gear with that same well-worn beard – ready to terrorize the neighborhood.)

Chumbucket: I think I first became aware of pirates when as a kid I watched Errol Flynn’s “Captain Blood” and later, “The Sea Hawk,” with my family. All that swashbuckling and adventure! It makes an impression on a kid. Those are still my two favorite pirate movies.

In a larger sense, Slappy is right. Kids in western culture just sort of learn this stuff, absorb it as part of the pop culture, through osmosis or something. No one ever says, “Niow here’s what you need to know about pirates.” It’s just there in your brain. Pop culture always celebrates the bad boy, the anti-hero. Vampires, James Dean, Dickens’ street urchins, they’re all pirates at the core, aren’t they?

When this all started we were both a little surprised to realize how much we knew about pirates, their history, their language. And we’ve learned so much more since.

Did you ever imagine this fun day – that was born on a racquetball court – could transpire to almost  80,000 likes on Facebook and worldwide fame to yer mateys?

Cap’n Slappy: Never. And since there was no “Facebook” when we started – that was completely off the map. We thought it was funny. We thought Dave Barry would think it was funny. But we had no idea it would go “world-wide.”

Chumbucket: No. There is no possible way anyone could have foreseen any of this. But when the wave comes up, you ride the wave.

What has been the best moment for you as the founders of Talk Like a Pirate Day? 

Cap’n Slappy: So many amazing moments – big and small. We’ve made so many friends and have had so many adventures! The one moment that popped into my head was the moment we were informed that the astronauts on the International Space Station were awakened to “A Pirates Life For Me” and joined in the pirate talk from space … “International” Talk Like a Pirate Day … IN SPACE!

Chumbucket: Hard to say, there have been so many. We had an amazing interview with a Dutch radio station, after which we listened to a caller talking like a pirate to a Dutch audience – in Klingon! That may have been the top. We’ve had great adventures meeting lots of kindred spirits who have become good friends at pirate convention around the country. And because of the sheer, dumb serendipitous coincidence that we invented Talk Like A Pirate Day – then took the idea way too far, we’ve been seen and heard all over the world. And I have to say, I love performing as The Pirate Guys. We’ve been on stage in New Orelans, Chicago, Philly, San Francisco, Seattle, L.A. and so many other places.

And then there was the year Talk Like a Pirate Day was the theme of the NY Times crossword puzzle! The ultimate accolade! We’ve been an answer on Jeopardy and a question on Hollywood Squares, and I was introduced as a pirate when I was on Jeopardy. I didn’t win, but the introduction made Alex blink.

Do you still keep in contact with Dave Barry who helped launch it the day – around this time of year?

Cap’n Slappy: We still check his blog – and John got him to participate in last year’s “Drunken Sailor” video. He continues to be a strong supporter and friend of International Talk Like a Pirate Day.

Chumbucket: Occasionally. He’s remarkably easy to get hold of for a guy as big as he is. We’re more in touch with his research department, Judy, than Dave, but he’s still a big supporter. I was shocked several years ago when I went to see Dave do a reading from “Peter and the Starcatchers,” and he introduced me from the audience. This year Sept. 19 – our holiday – has been used by producers of the Broadway play based on “Starcatchers” for a promotion. So that’s cool. 

What news from the ship can you share with Penelope’s mates?

Cap’n Slappy: There is still so much going on! John and I work on our own projects these days – and one of mine has been a partnership with our friend, Clay “Talderoy” Clement from Studio City Tattoo in Studio City California. We wrote (along with our artist, Jun Alverado) a children’s book, Pirate Santa in which Cap’n Slappy and his cousin, Santa Claus have a sharp disagreement about the children who find themselves on Santa’s “Naughty” list – “Pirate Girls and Ninja Boys” we call them. We have a web site –

And, of course, our web wench, Jezebel, keeps our flag ship churning through the Internet waters – is the center of all things pirate. We have a place on Facebook and Twitter – but we still think of as our Internet home.

Chumbucket:  We’re sponsoring a video contest on youtube that has drawn some great entries. Picking the winner will be hard. It’s in conjunction with folksinger Tom Mason, with whom I co-wrote a song. (Well, HE says we co-wrote it. I say he wrote the song and let me tag along.)

After four years living the pirate life in the Caribbean (St. Croix in the USVI) my wife and I moved the family back to the mainland this summer. We’re settling into New Orleans and planning to resume attending pirate events starting in the spring. And my agent is peddling my young adult pirate novel, Chrissie Warren: Pirate Hunter to publishers, and I hope to have some good news about that soon, but nothing I can talk about yet.

Thank you so much for your time Cap’n Slappy and Chumbucket!

And hope to see you all on the deck mateys celebrating Talk Like a Pirate Day on September 19th at our Facebook Party!

GOOD NEWS!  Penelope the Purple Pirate App for both the iPhone and iPad will be ON SALE to only .99 from the 15th through the 19th! 


  1. […] of Talk Like a Pirate Day on the 19th. While you practice your ‘arrrrs’ check out this interview with the founders of TLAP – 80,000 strong on Facebook and celebrated […]

  2. […] Aye me hearties!  Our favorite time of year is just around the corner and we wanted to share in some piratey booty with our mates.  We don’t want to have to walk the plank so we gathered some piratey goodies to share with ye!  Make sure to read our interview with Mark “Cap’n Slappy” Summers and John “Chumbucket” Baur, the founders of International Talk Like a Pirate Day:  […]

  3. […] You can read my interview with the founders, Mark “Cap’n Slappy” Summers and John “Chumbucket” Baur here: […]

  4. […] idea to “Talk Like a Pirate” came to them and why they chose September 19th here on my author site.  As many of you know, my first storybook app and book, Penelope the Purple Pirate, features a girl […]

  5. […] On their website they list events happening around the world as well, so make sure to check out and see if there is something happening near you.To read more about these crazy mates you can check out my interview with them here. […]

  6. […] official day on September 19th!  You can read more about the founders in our interview with them here. So in celebration of this rather fun and silly day, let’s have a Facebook Party!  As you […]

  7. […] the folks who love pirates as much as well do!  Make sure to check out our interview with the Founders of Talk Like A Pirate Day, Cap’n Slappy and Chumbucket and find out how a game of tennis (while speaking in pirate) […]

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