Australian comedian Barry Humphries said on Sunday he would retire iconic character Dame Edna Everage, a gaudy lilac-haired parody of suburbia, because he felt a “bit senior” and was ready to move on.
Everage, along with the lecherous and boorish Sir Les Patterson, are Humphries’ best-known characters, but the veteran comedian, 78, said his current tour would be their last stage outing.
“Edna will crop up on television I guess but not in a live show,” Humphries told Australia’s Sunday Telegraph newspaper.
“The fact of the matter is that I’m beginning to feel a bit senior.
“It’s the best aerobics you could do, leaping around on stage, but it’s gruelling when there are other things to do.”
Humphries’ turns as Everage and Patterson saw him achieve international renown, particularly in Britain where he was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2007 for services to entertainment.
He also won a special Tony award for a live theatrical event in 2000, “Dame Edna: The Royal Tour” through North America.
Everage was first conceived when Humphries toured southern Australia as a young actor in the 1950s and evolved from drab housewife to a self-proclaimed “gigastar” parody of celebrity best known for her catchcry “Hello Possums.”
The coarse and offensive Patterson came later, first appearing in a Humphries stage show in 1974. He is best known for his offensive behaviour, which includes belching, flatulence and nose-picking.
Announcing that his current tour of Australia would be his last live stage show, Humphries — also a prolific author — said he had a “contract to write another book” and there were “places I want to go, things I want to do.”
He recalled seeing performers as a child who had “outlived their shelf life” and about whom it was said “you should have seen him when he was funny”.
“I want to avoid that being said about me and know that I can’t keep doing it,” Humphries said.