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April 23, 2023


lj, if I ever saw that Clive James interview I had forgotten it, so thank you! It is astonishing to watch that genius Peter Cook be silent, but what is also so good about it is that it shows the extreme urbanity of BH, to contrast with the feel of his most famous creations. His articulacy, of course, is no surprise to anyone; Dame Edna's needle sharp and quick improvisation was one of her most notable characteristics. As for the UK drag aspect, I have already commented on why I think Dame Edna was something different, but mine may be a minority (and somewhat subtle) view.

On a side note, I am not generally a fan of the comedy of embarrassment, but there are exceptions. Fawlty Towers is one, but in the case of Dame Edna the absolute savagery of her satire was one of the notable features. It seems she was the personification (and inversion) of the petit-bourgeois conformism of his mother's type of Australian womanhood, which he hated. Apparently (I forget if it was in the Guardian obit, or one of the others), and FWIW, he always considered himself a Dadaist.

Peter Cook was, of course, a drinking mate of Humphries (along with Spike Milligan).

Humphries also left an obituary for himself, penned by Dame Edna, which the Telegraph published on his death.

It's the most succinct, and arguably most accurate, of them all.

This is close to the bone for me, as I had an Australian mother of the generation he parodied. The cadences of Dame Edna's speech are more than a knowing nod to me - I hear echoes of my mum and her sisters in them.
As a characterizer of stock Australian archetypes of a bygone generation, he was devastatingly on-point - so much so that seen now, some of it is at best dated or at worst, highly problematic in a politically-correct world. The real-life Dame Ednas and Sir Lesses were like that - especially the latter, where the sum total of any joke was "sheilas" this and "poufs" that. I also know this intimately from the uncles on my mum's side, who talked just like this. And Humphries knew it too - and anyone who knew him also knew that at bottom, he couldn't stand the real versions of the ilk. He was an anomaly - urbane and cultured from a world that took pride in being neither, yet cringed when reminded of its parochialism.
If possible, you can look at that two ways if you are Australian or know anyone intimately from there. On the one hand, it's a remnant of a prior generation of Aussie imperialism, which is to say, castaway Brits on the odd end of the world. And in such a milieu, you served things up neat, with no chaser. That was how it got told and done, and there was no pussyfooting around. In and of itself - and this isn't excusing the casual sexism, racism, and homophobia that was rife at the time - not an unadmirable trait in a self-censorious, socially constipated world. But you can also look at it as the artifact of an immature culture that needed a smack upside the head to realize what part of the world it was in - that there was little point in calling Japan, China, etc. say, the Far East when it was the Near North, no matter how much Australia wanted to keep Asia at arm's length. (When Lee Kwan Yew said that when the Australian economy was in major downturn in the 1970s, it put it in danger of being the "poor white trash of Asia." He knew exactly how much that would sting.)
Be that as it may, his alter egos were hilarious when seen as pure characterization. I submit myself for arrest in the culture court - the Les Patterson bit had me laughing out loud. It was more than ad-libbed - he could lose himself entirely in these characters. But unlike Peter Sellers, he knew when to pull himself away just enough to allow his real personality to switch back on.
Warts and all - RIP Bazza. (And Dame Edna, and Sir Les.)

Peter Cook was, of course, a drinking mate of Humphries (along with Spike Milligan).

More than that, Peter Cook was highly instrumental in giving Humphries his break(s) in the UK, as one of those clips shows. First, at the Establishment Club, and also (for the wonderful Barry Mckenzie) in Private Eye.

Of course, one cannot choose the friends and associates of artists one admires. Rupert Murdoch gave a gushing eulogy about BH to his papers, and I believe he was friends with Kissinger, among other undesirables. Also, I am told by fellow bibliophiles that his behaviour in pursuit of rare books was rapacious and dog-in-the-mangerish. But such is life: the world does not sort itself into convenient categories.

Sekaijin, thanks, really appreciate your take, you are who I was thinking about in the post. No other aussies here?

Think everyone will appreciate this

the part about Northern France and Southern England is... interesting.

Marvellous, lj, and you can see how (understandably and quite rightly) nervous and suspicious BoJo is of Dame Edna. He knows how clever and dangerous she is. But he does manage to run away with the conversation a bit towards the end, on the France-England question, and evades the worst of her malice. Unfortunately! But I don't suppose it could have stopped his rise; his success on HIGNFY saw to that, by popularising him for the masses (who, knowing so little about him, took his apparent bumbling and good humour at face value).

Another giant lost. RIP Harry Belafonte

Strange kind of spam.

If I read Arabic, I could at least see if it is always the same source. As it is, all I can see to do is delete it.

Google Translate did a good job of translating previous Arabic language spam I've seen in the comments.

@CharlesWT: -- you can read Arabic??


So how do you know Google Translate did a good job?

If the grammar and word usage are good, makes sense, it's probably a pretty good translation.

Because chatgpt told him it was?

That arabic spam started a few weeks ago, I deleted it and blocked the address, so I hope that should take care of it.

When I was deleting the latest one, a couple of hours ago, I found 4 more in the spam folder. Not sure how many more iterations of its address this particular spam bot has.

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