Monday, May 1, 2023

Dame Edna

Dame Edna Everage has written an "uncharitable" obituary for comic actor Barry Humphries, recently published in the Daily Telegraph. I'd normally let it pass unremarked, except that I really appreciate a good obit and (at the risk of ruining the joke) Humphries and Dame Edna were the same person, Dame Edna being Humphries's internationally famous drag persona. Dame Edna's obit of Humphries is brief but as catty, sassy, and brassy as the Dame herself. 

Obit writing can be an art. I wrote some obits way back when I worked on a newspaper and don't claim I was any good at it--I was perfunctory at best--but it made me appreciate writers who do it well. In particular, "The Economist" magazine often featured back-page obits that were masterworks of grace and style. I can't find a version that isn't behind a paywall, but read the first two grafs of this obit of watchmaker George Daniels and tell me you don't wish you could have known that man. 

I also want to note Humphries's passing because several state lawmakers have tried or are trying to ban drag performances in the presence of children. Those states include Tennessee, North Dakota, Florida, Arizona, Arkansas, Texas, West Virginia, Nebraska and South Carolina. Woe to anyone in those states who stages a performance of Shakespeare's "As You Like It," whose heroine Rosalind dresses as a boy, or runs a revival of "Some Like It Hot" or "Tootsie."

I'd have trusted Dame Edna with my children more than I'd trust 99.44% of the public servants writing and passing those laws. She was lovely.

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