B1547. JOHN LAHR. Dame Edna Everage and the Rise of Western Civilization [Backstage with Barry Humphries]. New York, Farrar-Straus-Giroux, 1992. 242pp. Photos; DJ. - 0-374-13456-1
gJohn Barry Humphries is an Australian comedian, satirist, dadaist, artist, author and character actor. He is best known for his on-stage and television alter egos Dame Edna Everage, a Melbourne housewife and eGigastarf, and Sir Les Patterson, Australia's foul-mouthed cultural attache to the Court of St. James'. He is a film producer and script writer, a star of London's West End musical theatre, an award-winning writer and an accomplished landscape painter. For his delivery of dadaist and absurdist humour to millions, biographer Anne Pender described Humphries in 2010 as not only ethe most significant theatrical figure of our timef [but] ethe most significant comedian to emerge since Charlie Chaplinf. Humphries' characters, especially Dame Edna Everage, have brought him international renown, and he has appeared in numerous films, stage productions and television shows. Originally conceived as a dowdy Moonee Ponds housewife who caricatured Australian suburban complacency and insularity, Edna has evolved over four decades to become a satire of stardom, the gaudily dressed, acid-tongued, egomaniacal, internationally feted Housewife Gigastar, Dame Edna Everage.
Humphries' forte has always been his one-man satirical stage revues, in which he appears as Edna Everage and a host of other character creations, including Les Patterson and Sandy Stone. There can be few (if any) comedians who can boast the career longevity he has enjoyed with Dame Edna, whose popularity shows no signs of flagging after fifty years. Humphries' success is a tribute to the tremendous skill, style and insight eand hard workfthat he invests in performing two-and-a-half hour shows of entirely original material, laced with ad-libbing, improvisation and audience participation segments. Dame Edna Everage is undoubtedly one of the most enduring Australian comic characters of all time, and one of the longest-lived comedic characterisations ever devised. Originally conceived in 1956, Edna has long since transcended her modest origins as a satire of Australian suburbia to become one of the most successful, best-known and best loved comedy characters of all time.h
- Ned Ludd