JOHN BARRY HUMPHRIES, A.O; C.B.E.
Born in Kew, Melbourne 17th February 1934.
Outspoken –Outrageous – Out For A Laugh. Barry has appeared several times at The Maj, the last being “Eat, Pray, Laugh” in 2012, which was announced to be a Farewell Tour… but that was followed by a U.K Tour in 2013/14… and then his recent sold-out appearance at Hamer Hall, with “The Man Behind The Mask”. Causes one to wonder when he will finally put Edna, Sandy, Sir Les and others to sleep.
These characters began with Dame Edna when Barry appeared in revues while at Melbourne University. He would experiment with outrageous behaviour on trams and trains or other public places, behaving so badly that we daren’t mention details here! And by studying people’s reactions he had endless material for his future career. Comedy writer Mike McColl Jones, a Humphries’ devotee, says, “Barry’s gift of observation has caused people to remark: ‘Edna’s got our neighbours to a tee’…when in fact it’s THEM.”
Following university, Barry appeared with the MTC and then, in Sydney, with the Philip Street Theatre revues. He left for London in 1959 and during the 60’s worked in film and on stage, appearing in “Oliver”, “Maggie May” and “Treasure Island”. In addition to his performance work he also wrote for the magazine “Private Eye” – and created “Barry McKenzie” – a send-up of the Aussie Ocker, eventually a movie starring Barry Crocker.
Successful in everything he tried – comedy, painting, writing, acting, – and has won awards in each, including a Tony. It is only fitting that the highest award given each year by the Melbourne International Comedy Festival is named after him – The Barry.
Truly an Australian icon, he is an active supporter of the Tait Memorial Trust, a London Organisation to support the next generation of young Australian artists working there.
His love for his country of origin can probably best be summed up in the words of his most famous creation, Dame Edna in a song she wrote in praise her obsession with the Gladioli:
“Australia is a sunburnt land of sand and surf and snow
All ye who do not love her – ye know where ye can go!”