It's Barry Humphries's birthday, one of my favorite days of the year, when we celebrate the birth of one of my favorite people, a man who has brought more laughter and joy into the world than just about anybody else. Make no mistake; Barry is a comic genius every bit the equal of W.C. Fields, Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton,and all The Marx Brothers combined.
Here he is 9 years ago in Los Angeles with Little Dougie, to whom he has always shown more kindness than I bother with. That's right, he's even nice to people whom you don't need to be nice to. (What a waste of niceness.) Incidentally, the big yellow book Barry is holding is a copy of the manuscript of my autobiography, My Lush Life, which he was taking to Dame Edna to read for the lovely cover blurb she wrote for it.
When he was here in Los Angeles last June, Barry told me he had stopped having birthdays, and was now no longer aging. I lived that way for years, until I noticed that while I was staying young in person, I was aging in my movies. Every year my image in my old films got older and older, and looking ever more debauched and dissolute. I blame our cinematographer at PMS Films, Dorian Gray. Once I started letting my real self age, my movie images returned to their original youthful freshness.
Anyway, though Barry was born in 1934, he's not the age that would imply. In fact, he may even be younger than Little Dougie now, who is staring 60 in the face in just a little over three months. So while this adorable picture of Little Barry was shot back around the time Bride of Frankenstein was shot, Barry is still terribly youthful and energetic, so much so that he is, at this moment, rehearsing a new stage show, to open later this month on Broadway, unfortunately co-starring Michael Feinstein, an overpraised wanna-be whom Barry needs about as much as a snake needs a shoehorn.
We should make Barry's birthday a national holiday, when we celebrate comedy in all it's glory, because face it, after sex and booze, comedy is what makes Life worth living. We probably won't though, since Barry is not an American, more's the pity for us.
Technically, he's not a Brit, or as he calls them, Poms, either; he's Australian, but as that's considered part of the "British Empire" (a formerly-worldwide, now-defunct organization of conquest and racism), the Brits felt able to confer upon him the honor Commander of the British Empire, so he is now Dr. Barry John Humphries CBE. In an email he sent me following the announcement of this honor, he wrote: "It was a shock, but a very nice one, and my fellow Australians are now treating me with a new and grudging respect which I have no doubt will turn to a most un-republican adulation when, in a couple of years, the Queen reveals her plans for my further ennoblement."
But Barry is not a prophet without honor in his own country. He was recently honored on Australian postage stamps, seen here cancelled in Moonee Ponds, a Melbourne suburb which is Dame Edna's home town.
As part of that same celebration of Dame Edna's Golden Anniversary, Dame Edna was put on a 50 cent Australian coin. We're all in this to make money, but Barry has become money. And just like me, he has to share his money with a Queen, as you can see on Barry's coin's obverse side. No matter how many times you flip this coin, it always comes up "heads."
So celebrate Barry with some comedy today or tonight. It would be nice if it were some of Barry's, if you have one or more of his DVDs lying about. (I certainly do), but if you don't, try an old WC Fields movie, or a Marx Brothers picture, or even a network repeat of Modern Family, just please, actual comedy, not crap with Will Ferrall or Adam Sandler, or something vulgar from Judd Apatow's factory, and for Heaven's sake, not the Winter Olympics, although there's not much danger of that. Whoever watches the Winter Olympics? (Actually, judging by the weather in Vancouver, it's practically The Summer Olympics anyway. The way things are going, they're going to be skiing on dirt.)
Speaking about aging, Barry and I may be ageless, but my public, I am informed, are not. Here's one of my most ardent long-time fans perusing My Lush Life, a great way to spend your life, or even your afterlife. His eyes aren't so good anymore, which is the reason for the magnifying glass. I haven't brought out a large print edition.
The pennies trickle in. Little Dougie takes his cut. (Somehow, although all he did was take down my words, he got his name put on the cover, title page, and copyright page, as the author. Imagine!) And if he isn't bad enough, here's my agent, down in my money bin, helping himself to his cut, and then some.
Well, how much do I need? As long as I have enough to pay my chauffeur Skelator to drive me to a liquor store, and can pay for my little beverages, I'm fine. Especially if, when I get home, and Eduardo, my gardener's son, has finished pruning my bush, I can enjoy some comedy from Barry Humphries: Life is good.
Check out my new posting on Survivor: Heroes vs Villains: Hi Y'all over on The Huffington Post.
Till then, Cheers darlings.