The Men in the Dame's Life

on Thursday, October 18, 2007


In my last post, I included a video clip of an amazing Australian woman, Dame Edna Everage. She recently celebrated her 50 years as a celebrity on stage and television in 2006. She has become such an icon and representative of Australia to the world that the Australians have chosen to commemorate this anniversary by placing her image on both the new fifty cent coin and on postage stamps. The city of Melbourne has even named a street after her.

Dame Edna is a widow with three children as any of her fans will tell you. However, apart from her late husband, there were three men of great significance in her life. One of them is Barry Humphries who found himself also commemorated on stamps at the same time as Dame Edna. Little is known about barry in the tabloid news as he generally tries to keep a low profile while at the same time promoting the welfare of Dame Edna.

The next man in Dame Edna's life is a big surprise. He is none other than the infamous Sir Les Patterson, the one time Australian Cultural Attache to the United Kingdom. They are like direct opposites. Where Dame Edna is sweetness and charm and everything nice, Sir Les is uncouth, chauvinistic, a drunk and a womaniser. Yet despite Dame Edna's publicly stated disike for Sir Les, they have often worked together and appeared together on talk shows.

A bigger surprise was the recent revelation by Dame Edna that she had an affair when she was very young with a mysterious Spaniard painter by the name of Pablo Picasso. She could not really explain why it happened. She was young. Perhaps she was foolish. Perhaps she pitied him because he was such a bad painter that none of his images looked at all realistic.

The biggest surprise of all for those who do not know Dame Edna well is that she and Sir Les are one and the same person as Barry Humphries. Indeed, both Dame Edna and Sir Les are his creations and he has been playing them on stage and TV for the last 50 years. Below is a clip commemorating this fantastic achievement.

30 comments:

Janice Thomson said...

Personally I think Brian Humphries is the ultimate actor. For years no one believed this was a man because the portrayal was so perfectly done. Good post Lgs!

HeiressChild said...

well, i'm sure i'll be the odd person out here, but personally, i've never liked dame edna and never thought she/he was funny a'tall. that's interesting about the commemorative coin. wow, i never ceased to be amazed at things!

Tai said...

LOVE her/him! I found her humour just to my taste.

meggie said...

How nice to know you are here in Australia, LGS.
I hope you are enjoying the stay, & I hope we are all treating you well!

Marja said...

Ah you're at the ozzies place. Hop over too the kiwies. I'll put coffee or tea and some muffins ready for you. Hope you have a good time. And Dame Edna is Fabulous. We have the pleasure to have her on NZ TV. Happy to catch up with the gossip. I missed that she had something with Pablo. Yeh she is full of surprises.

leslie said...

I haven't seen Dame Edna around for ages, but we used to see her all the time on TV here. Glad to hear she/he's being honoured. She/He always cracked me up, especially when she/he had his old lady sidekick with her/him.

geewits said...

For some reason I can't stand people who go around as a dress-up character. I stopped liking Martin Short when he started pretending to be a fat talk show host and I can't tolerate that Sacha Cohen guy. I guess you have to have a different sense of humor than I have to appreciate these people. I've always found them creepy like ventriloquists that they have to hide behind a fake persona.

mago said...

Unbelievable that he does it for 50 years. I saw some clips on german tv years ago. It is untranslatable.
I hope you have a good time there. Return safely.

Tallulah Morehead said...

I can understand one person getting his name wrong, but NONE of the commenters appear to have noticed it.

His name is BARRY Humphries, not Brian Humphries. Sometimes Sir Les will call him Brian, getting his name wrong AS A JOKE, but there's really no excuse for so many people getting one of the most famous Australians in the world's name wrong, particularly given that it's less than a week since he became Commander Barry Humphries CBE.

To be truely exact, his full name is John Barry Humphries, but he's been known as Barry for over 70 years.

And poor, sad "Geewits", how sad that you deprive yourself of some of the funniest people in the world because they play characters. Did you hate Chaplin because he played The Little Tramp? Did you hate John Belushi for playing characters, instead of always being John Belushi? What about that bastard John Cleese playing Basil Fawlty? What was wrong with him? Why does comedy character acting turn you off? It's your loss. Barry Humphries is the funniest man on earth, and Sasha Baron Cohen is pretty damn funny too.

Now Martin Short HAS gotten really tiring, but not because he played characters.

MedStudentWife said...

ahhhh... Dame Edna.

When I am older and grayer, I want to be just like her- blue or purple rinse and all.

geewits said...

This is for Tallulah:

I just want to say that I'm neither poor, nor sad. The examples you used of Charlie Chaplin, John Belushi and John Cleese had nothing to do with what I said. These guys played characters in movies and on TV. They did not insist that they only be interviewed as these characters as do the people I mentioned. All three of the fine actors that you cited were themselves in interviews. The ones I mentioned generally refuse to do interviews as themselves, they only do interviews as their characters and I find that creepy.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

To all readers and commentors,
First, I would like to thank Tallulah Morehead for pointing out my mistake and second I wish to apologise to all of you for my lack of caution in ensuring the accuracy of what I wrote. For the record, Tallulah is absolutely right and the name should be Barry Humphries and not Brian Humphries.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

janice,
It took me some time to be sure of his sex. I kept saying, "Surely this is a man pretending to be a woman." but then he's so good at getting others to play against his female persona that you think,"Well, then again.....maybe it is a dame."

sylvia,
I understand that it's not every body's cup of tea. I also do not find her/him to be rolling on the floor hysterically funny but She/he is clever and quick witted in interacting with people.

tai,
I suspect like me, you like a little sharp wit with your humor.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

meggie,
I am getting a lot of exercise in Australia which I will relate when I get back.

marja,
Sorry, can't make it to the Kiwis this time but I have been there before to the South Island. Beautiful country.

leslie,
Me too. Dame Edna's popularity has certainly grown since I saw her. I personally haven't seen much of her/him for a long time and only raised her up on account of my trip to Oz.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

geewits,
I can appreciate what you are saying and can understand your reaction. Still, some of the best comics often cannot divorce their character from real life. Barry Humphries does do interviews as himself but he also does interviews in persona.

mago,
Thanks. Performing a character for 50 years is certainly an achievement.

Tallulah,
my apologies for getting it wrong and thanks for correcting me. I understand though that some people find it unsettling when they cannot be sure if a comic sees a distinction between himself and his made-up character.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

msw,
I am sure you will age more gracefully. Or do you prefer to be loud.

geewits,
I understand. See my comments above.

Open Grove Claudia said...

I am always amazed at the joy created by some people. I mean, who could have imagined that this character would be so scandalously wonderful. I'm delighted that s/he took the risk.

Josie said...

I liked Dame Edna, but only beause "she" was so outrageous. (She used to call the audience members possum.) But I see your post has stirred up some controversy. I think there should be a disclaimer on every blog that no one has the right to personally attack other commenters, simply over a difference of opinion. People can disagree without personal attacks. Disagreements can be voiced in a much more kinly way. Two people here expressed their dislike of Dame Edna, but only one was attacked.

Comedy is each individual's personal taste, and none of us needs the comedy police to tell us what we should like or dislike.

Josie said...

I meant kindly, but you knew that... :-)

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

claudia,
I agree. Characters like Dame Edna are capable of making us re-examine our values and ideas but they do so in the nicest of ways by making us laugh at ourselves.

josie,
there is always a risk of controversy over any topic because for someone out there that topic touches on a passion that has to be defended. But you are right, it can always be done in a nice way......kind of like how Sir Les makes fun about Australian politicians and makes points about them at the same time.

HeiressChild said...

thank you josie!

MedStudentWife said...

LGS... hmmm

aging gracefully or loud.... these days loud is sounding like fun :D

And purple hair and clothes that are waaaay outtta style (ie wake up and who care what I put on *lol*)

Tallulah Morehead said...

Squirrel you adorable fuzzy rodent,

You're welcome on the name correction. Better from me than from The Queen. (She and Edna are so close.)

Geeewits,

in the posting of yours to which I responded you said NOTHING about these great comedians, whom you are too sad and poor to appreciate, not doing interviews out-of-character, a completely irrelevant point anyway. Sorry I didn't read your mind, but only your words. (When a stance is indefensable, simply change what you're defending to something you never mentioned. Nice ploy.)

So what have you got against ventriloquists, whom you also labelled as "Creepy" in that first posting? Are you telling me Edgar Bergan didn't do interviews out-of-character? Because that's absurd. He only did interviews out-of-character, although he usually allowed Charlie McCarthy to comment also. In fact, I've never seen a ventriloquist do an in-character-only interview.

Your comments that Barry Humphries, Martin Short, and Sasha Baron Cohen are "Creepy" because they only do interviews as their characters, is not only irrelevant as to whether they are funny or not, it is also flat-out wrong.

I have lost count of how many times Martin Short has been a guest on David Letterman's show, but he has NEVER done one of those interviews in character. In fact I have never seen Martin (With whom I have been acquainted for 27 years) do an interview in-character anywhere. His character Jiminy Glick (whom I can take only in small doses) conducts interviews in-character, but never gives them in-character.

Barry Humphries (Also a friend of mine, as well as the funniest man in the world) certainly does interviews in character, but not ALL interviews. He spent 20 minutes being interviewed by Charlie Rose, for one, being interviewed on his show out-of-character. His wife Lizzie, and his son Oscar were also interviewed on that show about him. The SOUTH BANK SHOW, which used to run in America on BRAVO, did a whole hour on him, featuring a lengthy out-of-character interview. On radio, Barry often appears both as himself and as one or more of his characters. The commercially-available DVDs of THE DAME EDNA EXPERIENCE, not only include several out-of-character interviews Barry has done on various TV shows from around the world, but also one in which Barry was interviewed by Dame Edna. So your statement that Barry "ONLY" does interviews in-character is just plain wrong.

Also, although Barry did write an autobiography in-character as Dame Edna, he ALSO has written TWO volumes of out-of-character memoirs, written in his elegant personal literary style which are a joy to read. One of these volumes, MORE PLEASE, won the J.R. Ackerley Prize for biography.

In any event, there is nothing "creepy" about in-character interviews. These characters are very funny, and additional time spent with them in funny interviews is appreciated by the people sensible enough to love them.

Sasha Baron Cohen seldom does out-of-character interviews, but there's a big difference between seldom and never. I have seen him interviewed as himself. He is hestitant, shy and dull, out-of-character. I vastly prefer his in-character interviews, where he is outrageous and hilarious. In any event, whether he does interviews as himself or not has no bearing on BORAT being just about THE funniest movie I have ever seen.

I've never seen Rowan Atkinson do an interview out-of-character. Is he creepy too? What about Paul Rubens? He used to do interviews on Letterman as Pee Wee Herman, a character that IS creepy. Actually, given Rubens's porn-related arrests, I'll grant his creepiness, but that's based on his public perv and child-porn-possession arrests, not his reluctance to do interviews out-of-character.

And everyone, what's wrong with a little controversy? Livens up an otherwise dull comments thread.

Cheers darlings

Jocelyn said...

I love the brilliance of this man/Dame...putting people on edge while simultaneously making them feel very comfortable. Who knew that could be done?

Josie said...

Tallulah, for goodness sake, lighten up. You're talking about comedians, for goodness sake, and comedy is subject to each and every person's personal taste. You can't force someone to like any particular comedian, any more than you can force someone to like rice pudding, 24 year-old single malt scotch, or Campbell's tomato soup. They either like it or they don't. AND they have the right to express whether they like it or not without being bullied.

And, sometimes a comedian can be funny in one instance, and fall flat in another. All of these people you have mentioned here have bombed at one time or another. I love Mr. Bean, I adore Pee-Wee, I hate Borat. Martin Short always appears to be trying too hard, straining for the laughs, as does Robin Williams. I think Steve Carell has them all beat as far as humor is concerned. He makes it seem effortless.

And you know, it is possible to have controversies and lively debates, and disagree with other folks' personal opinions and tastes, without personally attacking them and calling them "poor and sad", simply because they don't agree with your point of view.

:::now, smile:::

Cheers,
Josie

Dave said...

This was a first for me as I had never heard of these individuals but they do remind me of a couple
of comediens here in Canada. As a matter of fact, I cannot even remember their names! I am hopeless.

It is amazing however and yet great, how they can get away with saying what they want on TV...

Take Care LGS

patterns of ink said...

So I take it you are in Australia. If you would like a change of pace from the cross-dressing Dame to a totally unknown (until now) talent from Wales. Come to POI (to Sunday October 21) and check out an incredible moment in television. I welcome all of your reader's comments on this remarkable turn of events. You'll like it LGS.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

msw,
Hahaha. I think you will be young forever.

Tallulah,
As it seems you know Barry and the others and you know them well, I can understand the passion with which you speak of them. Nevertheless, I agree with Josie that humor is a personal choice. We can only recommend humor, it is against its own fundamental nature if we were to insist that people enjoy it.

jocelyn,
exactly. I am impressed because who knew it could be done.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

josie,
thanks for your countering comments.

dave,
I respect Barry cause he is able to get away with sharp comments because it is expertly coated in sugar. More so, cause there are still some limits adhered to for the sake of respect and decency.

Tom,
Thanks for sharing about Paul Potts. He truly is a wonderful if bashful find. I think you will also like this wonderful 6 year old at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QWNoiVrJDsE

babbler said...

Dear Squirrel numero uno Grey, Thanks for the enjoyable post about all three men! I enjoyed it very much, I always wondered about Dame, it is a curiosity from my past and brings back memories of watching TV with my family and arguing the question of "woman or man?" I never really cared, as I am a slug. Mollusks do not look too much like either one, so we are forced to wear lipstick to identify what sex we are. I love your blog and think you are a very smart squirrel.
Happy sliding,
Mrs. Slug

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