Dame Edna legend Barry Humphries: “I was born with Asperger’s and say whatever comes into my head”
In his pinstripe suit, handkerchief in top pocket and fancy tie, Barry Humphries has always been a man of sartorial style.
And he’s lost none of his capacity to gain attention with his biting wit and observations about life.
Humphries, 83, has been attracting headlines while promoting his new show, The Man Behind the Mask.
“I quite like giving offence,” he told The Mirror.
“In Australia I constantly offend people. The more I try to be conventional, the man in a tie and suit, the more people are offended by what I say. My God, it keeps me youthful”.
The man who as Dame Edna has spent a chunk of his career in women’s hosiery, first began performing as a child, when he’d entertain his family by hiding behind the curtains and pretending to be a radio announcer.
But as a young performer he was deeply anxious. His hands would tremble and he’d be physically sick before going on stage.
Once, doing Shakespeare in Melbourne, he hid behind furniture on stage because he’d heard people laughing about his legs in black tights.
In a Herald Sun interview on Wednesday, Humphries had plenty to say about legal reform and marriage equality.
“There are more important things to make legal: bigamy, polygamy,” Humphries said.
“I was born with Asperger’s and say whatever comes into my head,” he said. “I’ve never been sued, though.”
He said it was time his hometown audience saw him reveal a new character: himself.
“It’s a confessional evening,” he says of The Man Behind the Mask, which opens at Hamer Hall next May.
“Though I’ve written two autobiographies, I’ve never faced an audience and talked about what is laughingly called my career. It will be like group therapy,” he said.
The show will see him “hold the mirror up to himself in a personal, but always comic trip through his 62-year career”.