February 17 (Which I realize ended even as I dictated this to Little Dougie. Well, I was out celebrating) is my favorite holiday, as it is Barry Humphries's birthday. Barry is the funniest man alive, and we hope he stays alive for many more years to come. Today he hit age 79, the age I was way back in 1976.
|Dame Edna, Sir Les Patterson and Sandy Stone in Barry's final stage tour show.|
|Barry as "Envy" in Bedazzled. "Look at the table HE'S got."|
|Little Dougie has this same great poster on his living room wall.|
|Little Dougie with Emily Perry, 20 years ago, in her dressing room, which had been Gracie Allen's dressing room back in the 1950s. Comedy Holy Ground.|
|The lower portion of Dougie's poster is, as you can see, signed to him by Edna, Les and Barry,|
Some of his roles are still more bizarre, like the weird idea to cast "Dame Edna" as Mrs. Crummles in a screen version of Charles Dickens's Nicholas Nickleby. He wasn't billed as himself but as Dame Edna, although his Mrs. Crummles neither looked nor sounded nor behaved anything like Dame Edna at all. Nathan Lane was utterly miscast as Vincent Crummles (Nathan comes across as about as British as Jean Dujardin), but how can you not love a movie that presents Barry Humphries and Nathan Lane as a married couple, tells Dickens's great story faithfully if - ah - speedily, and features a magnificent performance from Christopher Plummer? (Christopher Plummer giving a magnificent performance? How often does that happen? Oh right, Every time he acts in anything.)
|Anyone want to see the Nathan Lane-Barry Humphries sex tape? Me neither.|
|Barry as The Great Goblin. He sure looks different in 3-D and 48 fps than he does when you're just in a room talking with him.|
|Barry and his wife of 22 years, Lizzie Spender, at the world premiere of The Hobbit.|
|Barry proves that he's literally a bigger star even than Sir Ian McKellan.|
|This picture was a present from Barry to Dougie. it lives in a frame on the wall above his TV.|
In the years I've known Little Dougie, I have, of course, introduced him to my many celebrity friends, but it was Dougie who introduced me to Barry. The photo below was taken the night they first met, at NBC in Burbank back in 1992. Barry, for reasons that defy understanding, actually likes Dougie, and has even been known to laugh at Dougie's jokes, which is more than I do.
|Little Dougie and his friend Christy Kanen with Dame Edna in Burbank on Ash Wednesday, 1992. Christy is wearing Chevy Chase's name tag. (Chevy's real name is "Cornelius.")|
|This is the first page of the book Dougie is holding in the photo above, Edna's autobiography.|
Dougie and I are both heavily addicted to seeing Barry work live. This is the scariest thing about Barry nearing his 80s. He's great on TV, wonderful in books, but only at his very best live onstage. The tickets below are but a few of the many, many Edna tickets we've bought and enjoyed over the years.
The nicest gift Barry ever gave Little Dougie and I appears on the back cover of every copy of both of my books. In fact, you could show your respect for Barry's opinions by buying a copy of my new book, Tallyho, Tallulah! (Hey, a girl's gotta drink, and liquor may be quicker but it's still not free.)
|Edna seems to think Dougie wrote my book instead of me, but then, she thinks she wrote her book and not Barry.|
In America, over 23 years, Barry has gone from unknown to a household name. When you're a question on Jeopardy, you've arrived!
|"I'll take 'Towering Comic Geniuses' for $1000, Alex."|
In December, 2011, Barry appeared in an elaborate Christmas Panto in London. Little Dougie's first important show business mentor (and the co-dedicatee of Tallyho, Tallulah!) is named Dick Whittington, but this show was not about him.
|The most-searing drama Tennessee Williams ever wrote.|
But while we will shortly lose Barry as a live stage performer, he's ONLY retiring from the stage. He will continue to do TV, radio, write books, make recordings, and do pretty much everything else he does except tour in stage shows. And much as I wish he would do them forever, the fact is, I don't know how he's done it for so long. He just spent a year as a 78 year old man, touring Australia in a show where he played three or four different characters in the course of a night, singing, dancing, and mind you, solo shows, onstage the whole evening working at peak energy, eight shows a week. I get exhausted just watching him.
He has been busy writing. Just 3 years ago he published Handling Edna, Barry's rip-the-lid-off expose of the "truth" about Dame Edna. It included the resolution of a mystery he set up in My Gorgeous Life, 20 years before. It's not available in America, so you'll need to order it from an English or Australian bookseller, but do so. It's hilarious.
|Edna's blurb on Handling Edna is less flattering than the one she wrote for my book.|
It just says: "I'm suing!"
Last year he revised and substantially enlarged his 1985 book The Traveller's Tool by Sir Les Patterson. It's obscene, disgusting, sexist and vile. Yup, it's unflaggingly hilarious from cover to cover. The blurbs on the original edition say: "Hundreds of pages of pure filth." Rex Ingrams, The Spectator, "A truly coarse series of observations," Sunday Telegraph, "Painfully funny but very filthy," Northern Echo.
|This book is hysterically funny, but I wouldn't recommend giving it to your sweet elderly granny.|
Sadly for America, the print edition is not available in America. You'd have to order it from Australia. However, the audio book edition is easily and cheaply available from Amazon, and features not only Barry performing the entire book (The audio book is uncut, unabridged), but also includes some of his recordings of Sir Les's songs which are hard to come by elsewhere. The song Give Her One For Christmas is worth the purchase price alone.
Read the copy on the back cover of the audio book. (If it's too small to read, click on it.)
Here's Dougie elderly copy of the original, unenlarged edition.
Of course, Little Dougie's copy is signed by Sir Les himself.
|I assume Sir Les was trying to write "All The Best," or "All My Best," but it sure looks to me like "All All Best." What do you think?|
Anyway, belated happy birthday, Barry, and thanks for 6 decades of big, big laughs. How about 6 more decades? Cheers, darlings.
|Dougie, Dame Edna and myself, all wearing "The Scream," outside the late Shubert Theater in 2001. This photo was taken by Lizzie Spender.|