Richard Paul Bayan (born January 27, 1950) is an American author, humorist, essayist and advertising copywriter, born and raised in New Brunswick, New Jersey. The son of Armenian immigrants from Istanbul (and a nephew of the late short story writer A. Arpine), he attended New Brunswick public schools and graduated with honors from Rutgers College. At Rutgers he majored in history, explored his Armenian heritage and wrote a lengthy term paper on Tigranes the Great. Finding himself virtually unemployable, he picked up a Master's Degree in journalism from the University of Illinois. There he discovered and was influenced by the works of American journalist H. L. Mencken.
Bayan initially struggled to find worthwhile employment, settling for ill-paid positions as an assistant editor on trade magazines like Rubber Age and Container News. He worked briefly as a staff writer for Time-Life Books, where he was assigned to write about plumbing for the company's Home Repair and Improvement series.
Bayan's early frustrations in the working world contributed substantially to the development of his cynicism. During this period he wrote his first two published essays, "The Liberal Artist at Leisure" (1976) and "The Liberal Artist at Work" (1977), both of which appeared in National Review.
While serving as chief copywriter at Barron's Educational Series in Long Island, New York, Bayan wrote Words That Sell (1984), an advertising and marketing thesaurus that gained wide popularity in its field.
In 1985 Bayan moved to Allentown, Pennsylvania, where he had been hired as advertising copy chief at Day-Timers, Inc. His work there won six advertising awards in nine competitions. Meanwhile, Bayan was crafting satirical definitions for his first book of humor, The Cynic's Dictionary (1994), a modern Devil's Dictionary published by William Morrow.
The book received little critical attention, so Bayan took advantage of the relatively new World Wide Web and created The Cynic's Sanctuary (1996), a site designed to promote his book but which eventually took on a life of its own. Over the next six years (1996-2002), Bayan wrote 70 monthly "Tirades" that appeared on his site. Distinguished by their dark humor and often eloquent prose, Bayan's Tirades represent a little-known but significant contribution to American humor. One of them, "Not Just Another Obscure Ethnic Group," examines Armenia's national penchant for self-defeating behavior with a mixture of affection and exasperation.
Having attained a measure of financial security, Bayan quit his job in 1999 to write full-time. He wrote a weekly column, Some Cynical Guy, for Upbeat Online from 2000 through 2002.
In 2001 Bayan married Anne Downey, a one-quarter Armenian art conservator and former neighbor from his hometown, and moved to Philadelphia. There he wrote More Words That Sell (2003), a supplement to Words That Sell, and revised the original book in 2005.
Bayan's first child, Guy, was born in 2004. In 2006 Bayan began work on The New Moderate, a web site devoted to promoting the ideas of "the radical middle" at the expense of left-wing and right-wing extremists.