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Wednesday, 19 June 2024

How Barry Humphries influenced the culture of Australian satirist comedy


Barry Humphries is, without a doubt, one of Australia’s most iconic comedians who has brought laughter to generations. His is most renowned for his satirical characters Dame Edna Everage and Sir Les Patterson. He has also been a successful scriptwriter and film producer, as well as a noteworthy landscape painter.

He is commonly cited as a pioneer in Dadaist and absurdist comedy that popularised it for millions of people. He is often praised as one of the most influential theatrical presences since the great Charlie Chaplain, which is no small claim. As mentioned, he is best known how his satirical portrayals of archetypes in the Australian culture, ranging from self-aggrandising sophisticates to blokey everyman characters.

In his early life, he became best known for his Dadaist performances and pranks around the University of Melbourne, popularising the art movement within Australia. From the outset, it was clear that Humphries enjoyed provocative performances that took onlookers out of their comfort zone.

Barry Humphries got his first mainstream success during appearances on the lest show from 1966-1967 where he did one-man stage performances. He announced that he was retiring from stage performances in 2012 but has still performed his characters in other capacities since.

Without a doubt, his character Dame Edna Everage is his most influential contribution to Australian culture. Dame Edna is often mistaken for being a real person by many, as Barry Humphries expertly walks the line between the real and the absurd.

There is no doubt that Barry Humphries is a major reason why Australian comedy culture, and Australia in a broad sense, is associated with satire. Barry Humphries never took himself too seriously and built a legacy around his performances, bringing more fame to the characters he created rather than himself.

Ebony Stump
Ebony Stump
Ebony was a breakfast radio producer for seven years before deciding she was much better suited to a job that didn't require she be in bed by 7.30pm. She loves tracking down celebrities for a quick chat, and has spoken to Lady Gaga, Chris Rock, Usher and Merlin from Big Brother.

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