Isn’t It Unsurprising At His Age

Last weekend’s Sunday Telegraph contained the news that Barry Humphries’ upcoming show Eat Pray Laugh will be his final ever live stage tour.

…Humphries says while he may go on, his much-loved creations Dame Edna, Sir Les Patterson and Sandy Stone might be retired for good.

“Edna will crop up on television, I guess, but not in a live show,” he said.

He recalls being taken by his parents to a show when he was a child and it featured performers who had “outlived their shelf life”.

“It was commented that ‘you should have seen him when he was funny’. I want to avoid that being said about me and know that I can’t keep doing it,” he said.

While deeply sad this news isn’t so surprising; in 2008 Humphries was forced to cancel six months worth of shows, and in 2009 his UK revival of Last Night of the Poms was much canned. In recent years Humphries has looked a little stiff and breathless in many of his appearances – he’s now 78 years old – but he’s remained as sharp as ever, so this final stage outing for Dame Edna, Sir Les, Sandy Stone and a yet to be announced new character will no doubt be worth seeing. Tickets go on sale on 30 March.

And while we’re here and talking on this subject, wouldn’t it be nice to see more of Humphries’ back catalogue on DVD? His best known TV series and films are widely available, but you need to scour secondhand sites and shops to find copies of any of Humphries’ stage shows or more obscure TV work. When’s someone going to put out the under-rated Dame Edna Treatment, or Dame Edna’s Hollywood, or The Life and Death of Sandy Stone, or early shows like Barry Humphries’ Scandals and The Barry Humphries Show, or even a compilation of great Humphries chat show appearances – there are hundreds of these in the Channel 9 archives alone.

For a comedian revered on three continents it’s extraordinary that so little of his vast oeuvre can be easily obtained. If you go to his farewell tour, we suggest you take along a sneaky little recorder with a well-charged battery. And if you could e-mail us the mp3 afterwards we’d be much obliged.

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