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The most significant comedian since Chaplin?

By Andris Heks - posted Thursday, 18 May 2023

According to Barry Humphries' biographer, Anne Pender, he was not only "the most significant theatrical figure of our time … [but also] the most significant comedian to emerge since Charlie Chaplin".

If this is true, it is time to ask "Who was the real Barry Humphries and what made him so significant?"

If Anne Pender is right, through Humphries, Australia emerges as the producer of the greatest thespian and comedian in modernity.


This ratchets up Humphries' status to the forefront of international significance.

After the early decades which included uphill battles and rejections, by the end of his life Humphries was regarded as a living legend, not only in Australia but also at least in the UK and the USA.

But what made Humphries such a great thespian and comedian?

Clearly, to be fascinatingly outrageous was a principal goal for Humphries.

There can be no doubt he has thoroughly succeeded in fulfilling this ambition.

But beyond this I keep asking: 'Would the real Barry Humphries please stand up?'


Does anyone know who was the real Barry Humphries?

He was both an archconservative and a far-out radical.

Was he the guy who created his stage characters or did they create him?

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About the Author

Andris Heks worked as a Production Assistant and Reporter on 'This Day Tonight', ABC TV's top rating pioneering Current Affairs Program and on 'Four Corners' from 1970 till 1972. His is the author of the play 'Ai Weiwei's Tightrope Act' and many of his articles can be viewed here:

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Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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