Thursday, June 18, 2009

Dame Edna

Went to the Ahmanson theater last night to see Barry Humphries in his character, Dame Edna. It's a one man/woman show. Dame Edna on stage with a pianist. She glorifies herself and makes fun of the audience. Then invites a few audience members to come on stage with her and she hosts a little cat show. She sings a few songs, throws gladiolas at the audience, and that's it. It was fun. We laughed all night.

it was interesting to compare Humpries' performance with the Drag Queens that I'm more used to seeing. Humphries is a man in a dress in pure British Music Hall fashion (Humphries is Australian). He's not a female impersonator. Behind the cat's eye glasses there's no hint of glamour or illusion. He sings but with more gusto than musicality. The tropes were the same as in a drag show: "I'm fabulous, you're not" "I can get away with outrageous behavior because I've already made myself ridiculous." But Barry is straight. He mentions his wife and four children in his program bio. He acknowledges his gay fans and there isn't a homophobic bone in his body, but he doesn't speak to the gays particularly. His targets are the bland tastes and small dreams of regular people. His jokes are class-driven, not sex or gender driven. Dame Edna's status comes from her wealth and position, where a Drag Queen's power comes from a display of talent (whether pretend or real) and an "above-it-all" outsiders biting humor.

The audience was only slightly more gay than a normal night at the theater and the people that seemed to be having the best time were the middle-aged straight couples and the "ladies-night-out" groups of straight women.

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