Wednesday, March 4, 2015

wacky tacky Icons: Dame Edna Everage

You know it's a good day when you can convince your adult sister that staring at pictures of the sun (sunrise photos from her recent camping trip) is just as dangerous an act as staring into the sun itself.  Will I ever grow up?  May the odds be never in my favor.  

Stargazing would seem like a safe alternative to sun-staring but there is one star so bright that she outshines the very center of our solar system by far.  To gaze directly upon her radiant magnificence is to be blinded by the brightest heavenly body that the universe has ever known.  To the residents of Moonee Ponds, she is just Mrs. Everage, Melbourne housewife.  To the British Royal Family she is trusted advisor and confidante.  To the rest of the world, she is Australian gigastar and squillionairess, Dame Edna!

"Hello, Possums!!!!"
Dame Edna Everage wearing a rather -modest example of her signature "face furniture."

After attending Dame Edna's farewell tour of 2009, I had resigned myself to the fact that the only way to get my fix would come from reading her books, re-watching my collection of Dame Edna DVDs, and bingeing on the hundreds of available YouTube videos.  Fully convinced that her last farewell tour would indeed be the last farewell tour, I was delighted when my friend asked me me if I wanted to attend the dame's latest farewell tour, "Dame Edna's Glorious Goodbye."  Surely hers was a rhetorical request as she had to know that I would never pass up the opportunity for a few hours of Dame Edna's legendary "caring and sharing."

So maybe I should have paid closer attention; it says right
there on the ticket, "Dame Edna: My First Last Tour."

If you have never been to a Dame Edna show it is important to know that the first six-or-so rows of the orchestra section are akin to Sea World's "Splash Zone."  Theatergoers with the temerity to opt for the most expensive seats will likely become unwilling or, at the very least, unwitting participants in Dame Edna's ever-interactive performances, to wit, "Do you have any regrets?  I mean, besides placing such misplaced confidence in your hairdresser."  Feeling quite young and brave the first two times I saw Dame Edna, I opted for the "good seats."  Only once was I graced to be picked-on; fortunately, it was just to stand and tremble my gladiolus (the Dame's favorite flower).  This time, we sat well into the safe zone of the Mezzanine where, as spectators, we could relax and fully enjoy the hilarious proceedings.

The show was at The Ahmanson Theater in Downtown Los Angeles;
the beautiful grounds, the sunny February day, and the drunk audience
made for a magical day of live theater!

To avoid looking like a poser, I should explain that I have loved Dame Edna since childhood.  When I was young, my grandparents traveled to Australia to visit my uncle and his Aussie bride.  Returning home with an unbridled enthusiasm for Australia's greatest export since Vegemite, they passed their love for Dame Edna onto me.  My fandom is so enduring that I once costumed Mary as the Dame for Halloween (using the officially-licensed wig and glasses) before she even really knew who Dame Edna was.

At the very end of the performance, Dame Edna invited us
to get out our cameras and take photos of the curtain call.
It's always a poignant moment when Dame Edna creator, Barry Humphries,
comes onstage as himself.  Unfortunately, I was applauding with such fervor
that this is the best photo I could get.
At 81 years of age, Barry Humphries, the man behind Dame Edna, mightn't be as agile as once he was.  But after fifty years of glamorous globetrotting and treading "the boards" in exquisitely-crafted high heels and fantastic frocks by in-house couturier, son Kenny, who would be?  His/Dame Edna's timing and inimitable wit are still firing on all cylinders, keeping the audience roaring with laughter.  As one who loves to laugh as earnestly and deeply and often as possible, I admit to entering early-onset asthma anytime and every time I am in the rarified presence of Dame Edna.  Honestly, my raucous laughter actually got me a few stares from other audience members; I like to think that they were simply making sure that the weird fat guy in the row behind them wasn't experiencing some sort of theatrically-induced medical problem. 

If this truly was a "farewell tour," then I am thrilled that I was able to attend.
If this is not a true farewell tour, then you can be sure that I will have tickets
for that "Glorious Goodbye" as well! 

I tend to reject the popular use of terms like "spirit animal" but were I to hurl such an epithet at any living person, it would definitely be wacky tacky icon, Dame Edna.  As wonderful as all of the physical trappings may be (gowns, hair, jewelry, face furniture), my affinity for Dame Edna is founded in her wit.  Balancing the line between "nothing sacred" and "family friendly," Dame Edna's ability to interact with a live audience without missing a beat, should be considered a master class for all aspiring performers.  She has connected three continents with her "slightly raunchy" brand of cleverly-disguised insult comedy.  She has bridged multiple generations of celebrity with her inventive programming.  She has conquered the worlds of stage, screen, and television.  She has captured the hearts of wacky tacky comedy-lovers everywhere.  She has interviewed Lauren Bacall and Tom Jones at the same time; there is not a damn thing this dame can't do!

My favorite episode of The Dame Edna Experience with Lauren Bacall & Tom Jones (1989)

As the song says, "There is nothing like a dame!"  Oh, Mr. Oscar Hammerstein II, you are so right!


Mr. Tiny


  1. Hilarious. I have always loved Dame Edna. Especially those glasses. She should have a dinner theatre right here in Los Angeles. Bet she could pack a full house every day!

    1. Wouldn't that be great?!! Were that ever to be the case, you can bet that I would have standing reservations for every show!