Who is this adorable little boy, soaking wet from playing in the sprinkler in his parent's back yard? Well, his birthday is tomorrow, February 17. He'll be 73, and he is the greatest comedian alive in the world today; the only living comedian I know of who is an equal of Chaplin, Keaton, W.C. Fields, and the Marx Brothers. Actually, since Australia is always one day in the future, it's his birthday now. (Australia is like that island on LOST; it's a science fiction world, existing in the future, but only a little bit into the future.)
Here's another photo of him, taken only last week, at the opening of an exhibition of his art in Melbourne, Australia. He daubed that lovely rendering of New York's Central Park behind him. Know who he is now?
Yes, he's Australia's gift to the people of the world, Barry Humphries, a True Comic Genius!
Here he is in 2000 in Los Angeles, posing with my fatigable scribe, Little Douglas. The large object Barry is clutching is no less than a copy of the manuscript of my own modest autobiography, My Lush Life, which Little Douglas had delivered to him on my behalf. Barry has written two autobiographies, More Please and My Life as Me, as well as ghosting Dame Edna Everage's autobiography, My Gorgeous Life. (He's written many other books as well. Read them.) As an experienced expert in this literary field, Barry was kind enough to read my humble effort, and a blurb he wrote under Dame Edna's name graces the back cover of every copy of my book, both in hard cover and soft. He owed me nothing. This was an act of pure generosity. My gratitude to him knows no limit.
Here's Barry posing with his three best known characters. We all know the magnificent Dame Edna, but the dissolute gentleman on top is Sir Les Patterson, an Australian diplomat, who is a man after my own heart, as he is obsessed with two things, Social Drinking and sex with ladies. Additionally, Sir Les can always be seen to be hung like a giant squid. The fellow in the bathrobe at the bottom is the late Sandy Stone, the ghost of a Melbournian suburbanite whose quiet observations of the life which passed him by while he lived, and continues to pass by him after death Barry has been performing almost as long as he has been performing Edna, which, for the record, hit 50 years in 2005.
Right now, in Melbourne, Ednafest is going on, as Barry's hometown celebrates the Golden Anniversary of his most celebrated creation. Edna has received the key to the city, has several museum exhibits running, including a collection of Edna's gowns, Ednaville, a painstaking "recreation" of her Moonie Ponds home of 1955, and of course, the above-mentioned exhibit of Barry's artwork. Barry only just closed a live one-man stage show in Melbourne earlier this week. Click on this link to Virtually Edna, and enjoy special presentations regarding this celebration. Shortly Barry will be shooting a new TV series for British and Australian TV called The Dame Edna Treatment, which hopefully we will get to see here in America without having to wait 18 years, as we had to with The Dame Edna Experience TV shows. Then Barry takes his one-man stage show on tour all over Australia. That show is almost three hours of just Barry on stage. Let me reiterate: He's 73, and he still does 8 grueling stage performances a week. Where does he get the energy? I've had two naps just since starting this column.
That's my little Dougie with Dame Edna in 2000, with both of them, by coincidence (Honest!), wearing The Shriek. Not 40 minutes earlier Dame Edna had hugged Ben Affleck, and Little Douglas is sniffing the aroma of Ben on Edna. I adore Little Douglas, but he can be such a perv at times. This photograph was taken by Lizzie Spender, a woman so beautiful that she is often called a Young Tallulah Morehead. She is the daughter of the late Sir Stephen Spender, former Poet Laureate of England. Lizzie is also known as Mrs. Barry Humphries. Here's a recent photo of the two of them attending the races.
Barry is a World Treasure. He is alive and still creating hilarious work. He's apparently still in his prime, and shows few signs of slowing down. Savour and cherish him. Geniuses don't live forever, anymore than anyone else does. (Except myself, of course. I'm a Screen Immortal!)
Happy Birthday Barry Humphries. Have many more.