Barry Humphries

Barry Humphries was an actor, comedian and author. He was the creator of Dame Edna Everage and Sir Les Patterson.

Why does no one dress for dinner at Claridge’s any more?

F. Scott Fitzgerald declared in an excellent late story that ‘the second half of life is a long process of getting rid of things’. It is certainly what I am striving to do. I have far too much stuff so I’ve decided a little culling is needed. Some weeding out imperative, deaccessions inevitable. I’ve startedwith

The Price of Fame

Try not to meet us in the flesh We’ll disappoint you if you do, Our dandruff and our garlic breath Are better tucked away from view. Try not to catch us off the cuff We’ll topple your romantic dreams Not concentrate or smile enough, You’ll see us parting at the seams. You hang our pictures,

Diary – 29 October 2015

I’m counting ‘Wows!’ Suddenly everyone is using this irritating expletive expressing incredulity, amazement and nothing at all. I’ve heard it from the lips of daughters in law, professors of literature, rabbis and housewives. No doubt at least one priest has said it after a particularly lurid confession. It is spreading like leprosy over ordinary discourse

Barry Humphries: in praise of Australian art

In my career as a music hall artiste I travel the world, mostly in the Dominions, the United States and the cleaner countries of Europe. Aside from giving incalculable pleasure to thousands of people, I love, on my days off, to visit picture galleries: usually the porticoed kind, in search of those overlooked little masterpieces

Diary – 11 April 2013

Whenever feminists have complained in my presence about neglect of female high-achievers, other than rock singers and courtesans, I always like to mention brilliant Margaret Thatcher. It always makes them furious. They can’t bear to think of her as one of the most successful women of the 20th century. I had afternoon tea with her

London Notebook | 1 November 2012

What is a real woman? My difficult client, the Australian gigastar Dame Edna Everage, is seriously miffed at BBC’s cancellation of her forthcoming appearance on Have I Got News For You. She flew from Australia especially to record this show, installing herself, as usual, in the Oliver Messel suite at the Dorchester Hotel at her

Diary – 2 June 2012

Whenever, in an idle moment, I dip into one of my own books, I am almost immediately consumed by an unstoppable fou rire. It is immodest of me to make this confession, but I find my own work irresistibly funny. It pleases me to know that other more illustrious authors whom I admire are also

Slovenia Notebook

Last week I headed to Maribor in Slovenia for a music festival featuring the Australian Chamber Orchestra under the directorship of maestro Richard Tognetti, the virtuoso violinist. I even briefly performed a couple of Edith Sitwell poems to music by William Walton, but my efforts were at the beginning and end of a long programme

An Australian in Lautrec’s Paris

The remarkable career of Charles Conder At the small but distinguished exhibition at the Courtauld Institute — Toulouse-Lautrec and Jane Avril (until 18 September) — we glimpse many of the habitués of the Moulin Rouge with the exception of Charles Conder. A marginal figure in at least four works by Lautrec, he is also the

Christmas Notebook

I felt immeasurably old this morning in Sydney when a youth on a bicycle yelled at me in the street ‘I love your body of work!’ I returned the flattering salutation with the modest smile I keep for such occasions, but my fan had already pedalled into the traffic. I felt immeasurably old this morning

Diary – 20 June 2009

Los Angeles I have just spent a hippocentric few days on a horse ranch in Santa Barbara County, California. I was the guest of my friend Monty Roberts, the inventor of horse whispering. Monty first developed ‘Join-Up’ to stop the cycle of violence typically accepted in traditional horse-breaking. His methods still infuriate traditionalists who believe

San Francisco Notebook

I am in San Francisco where I began an American theatrical adventure ten years ago. It is a beautiful and stylish town but it is impossible to enjoy a stroll in the city centre without being pestered by beggars. Not seldom hostile, these pungent tatterdemalions seem to be accepted by the locals as though they

Christmas notebook

The trouble with living in London is that apoplexy is always just around the corner. A few weeks ago my telephone developed a funny sub-aqueous rustling noise sufficient to drown all conversations, so after a few stiff cups of tea, and setting aside several hours for the task, I phoned BT to have it fixed.

London Notebook

Only the most venerable and knowledgeable London cab driver has heard of Belsize Circus, a roundabout near the slums of Kilburn Heights where I have my lodgings. During the second world war many bombs fell nearby but, as was the case with most of London, the worst damage by far was wrought after the war

Diary – 10 November 2007

When will the Americans withdraw? I don’t mind how long they stay in Mesopotamia but it’s high time they got out of Grosvenor Square. They’ve been muttering about relocating their embassy, but will it happen? Mayfair, my favourite English village, is ruined by their barricades, tank traps and miles of concrete Toblerone. Grosvenor Square and

Diary – 25 August 2006

SydneyI am here to announce a new stage show. When last here I was having breakfast in a harbourside café with a composer friend and I was just telling him about a particularly vile freelance paparazzo who haunted the area. Suddenly I saw the glint of a telephoto lens across the street. It was him!

Diary – 12 May 2006

When the gifted Australian actor Russell Crowe threw a telephone at an American hotel desk clerk, I sent him a letter of congratulation. As one might expect in a wonderful but barmy country like America, the desk clerk became an overnight millionaire. I have just completed a 15-week theatre tour of the US, so I

Diary – 17 December 2005

If I die I hope it won’t be in Melbourne. The chief obituarist of a Melbourne morning paper takes a dim view of me, and since the London Daily Telegraph pioneered the custom of pissing on the recently deceased, the Melbourne obituarist is pretty likely to do the same to me. A couple of years