Home Actualité internationale Barry Humphries : Le satiriste et comédien dont la vie était dominée par Dame Edna Everage.
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Barry Humphries : Le satiriste et comédien dont la vie était dominée par Dame Edna Everage.

The talented actor, satirist and comedian whose life was dominated by his gaudy alter-ego.

Barry Humphries: The Man Behind Dame Edna Everage

Barry Humphries, born in Melbourne in 1934, was a man of many talents. He was a writer, painter, actor, and scholar, but he was best known for his creation of the iconic character, Dame Edna Everage. From her humble beginnings as a suburban housewife, Edna became a global superstar, spreading her homespun philosophy and piles of gladioli wherever she went.

Humphries’ journey to success was not without its challenges. He faced critical disapproval and battled alcohol abuse, but eventually became what the critic Brian Sewell once described as « an institution ». Humphries’ gift for entertaining people was evident from an early age, and he spent hours in his parent’s back garden dressing up in various costumes and inventing fictional characters. He studied law, philosophy, and fine arts at Melbourne University and became famous for a series of publicly performed practical jokes influenced by his interest in the Dada movement.

Humphries’ big break came when he was offered the part of Mr Sowerberry the undertaker in the 1960 stage production of Lionel Bart’s stage musical Oliver, and transferred with the show when it was moved to Broadway in 1963. He returned to Australia where he toured a series of satirical one-man shows featuring Edna Everage and Les Patterson, and the more gentle, and later deceased, Sandy Stone who Humphries described as « Melbourne talking in its sleep. »

Despite his various film and stage appearances, it was in his one-man shows that Humphries achieved his greatest following both in the UK and Australia. Often lasting more than two hours, his performances were masterpieces of original material and improvisation spiced with the barbed insults Edna often aimed at members of her audiences. Humphries retired from live performances in 2012 but returned in 2022 with The Man in the Mask: a series of shows looking back at his long career.

Barry Humphries, Dame Edna Everage, Australian comedian, satirical comedy, one-man shows, Les Patterson, Sandy Stone, BBC, Melbourne University, Lionel Bart, Oliver, Broadway, J.R. Ackerley prize, biography, Charles Conder, Peter Cook, Dudley Moore, Alan Bennett, Jonathan Miller, Poet Laureate, Sir John Betjeman, Victoriana, Cornwall, Private Eye, Brian Sewell, gladioli, Melbourne Grammar School, Dada movement.

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