Australia bids farewell to Barry Humphries : News 2023 : Chortle : The UK Comedy Guide

King Charles among those paying tribute at Sydney Opera House memorial

King Charles, Sir Elton John, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese were among those who paid tribute to Dame Edna Everage creator Barry Humphries at his state memorial today.

Hundreds of fans gathered at Sydney Opera House to celebrate the life of the 89-year-old, who died in April of complications from hip surgery.

In a message read out at the service, the King said: ‘I suspect that all those who appeared on stage or TV with Barry’s Dame Edna, or who found her appearing at the back of the royal box will have shared that unique sensation where fear and fun combine.

‘Those who tried to stand on their dignity soon lost their footing. Those who wondered whether Australia’s housewife superstar might this time just go too far, were always proved right. No-one was safe.

Barry Humphries, through his creations, poked and prodded us, exposed pretensions, punctured pomposity, surfaced insecurities, but most of all, (helped us) laugh at ourselves This cultured and erudite man, with his love of literature and the visual arts and passion for Weimar cabaret, could not have been more different from his various stage incarnations.

‘Like so many, I have been deeply saddened by his passing. Life really won’t be the same without him. May our gladioli bloom in celebration of his memory.’

The message was read out by arts minister Tony Burke, while in a video Albanese compared Dame Edna and Humphries’ other main  character, Sir Les Patterson, to Australia’s ‘bicameral parliament’ saying it was a great example of ‘the duality of power… Two contrasting figures who ultimately balanced each other.’

‘If Dame Edna represented the refinement, consideration and style of the Upper House, Sir Les was, without doubt, the Lower House’.

Comics who sent video messages to the ceremony included Jimmy Carr who said Humphries was ‘a huge influence on me’; Rob Brydon who praised his ‘sly, clever, sophisticate wit and satire’; and David Walliams, who said spending time with the comedy legend ‘was one of the greatest pleasures of my life’.

Here’s the event it full, which ended with Dame Edna’s rendition of her Song Of Australia: 

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Published: 15 Dec 2023

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