Fresh from celebrating his 80th birthday Barry Humphries arrives in Manchester with his farewell tour showing audiences he’s lost none of his risqué sense of humour and proves that no subject matter is off limits, despite how offensive and outrageous his comments may be.
Splattering the front few rows with spittle and suffering from a chronic case of diarrhoea, (complete with graphic sound effects) larger than life character Sir Les Patterson opens the show aiming to launch himself as a Celebrity chef with the assistance of his four on stage helpers and a dazed couple from the audience. Cue crude jokes and vulgarity that the audience lap up, no subject is off limits as Sir Les sails through innuendoes and jokes about sex, homosexuality, race and immigration, not forgetting to mention how boring he feels ‘political correctness’ is just to make sure anyone in the audience feeling a little uncomfortable knows where this show is headed.
Next we meet Sir Les’ paedophile priest brother Gerard, a strange and humourless séance scene takes place in which pensioner Sandy Stone is summoned up. Stone’s monologue from the afterlife felt to me more like a soliloquy of Humphries private thoughts on the state of the world as he sees it. The audience now fairly muted seemed a little unsure as to how to react to the jokes about infantile death and dementia. Sadly when the racist jokes began the belly laughs from many in the audience returned, something not only I was astounded by but many others in the audience including one lady who actually shouted out “Why are you laughing? This is not funny; I didn’t remember him as being such a racist git”. Outdated and unnecessary this section of the show led several members of the audience to leave, again the ‘political correctness gone mad’ card was played, something I find to be a hideously weak defence for narrow-minded, archaic attitudes. It was at this half way point in the show I considered leaving myself but felt as a reviewer it was only fair to stay to the end and see if this show could resurrect itself for me.
The second half of the show was entirely dedicated to all things Dame Edna Everage, beginning with a faux documentary about Edna’s life before the lady of the hour arrived on a bejewelled (fake) elephant, blinged up to the max and donning her trade mark glasses; the audience greeted their heroine with rapturous applause. The risqué laughs continued at the expense of several females in the audience who were picked out to be ridiculed about everything from the way they looked to where they lived, much to the amusement of the Dame and her audience.
This is most definitely a show for die-hard Barry Humphries fans, it’s apparent he has a trust in his audience, they know and appreciate his particular style of humour, it is not a show for toe-dippers like myself who aren’t established fans. By the end of the show the gladioli are flying through the air as one by one his characters are laid to rest via a video montage, it feels like this is the best place for them, these outdated attitudes are something I’m certainly happy to bid farewell to.