Time Out Sydney

Dan Ilic reviews the comedy legend and his crazy cupboard full of alter-egos

Eat Pray Laugh is a highly produced yet seemingly effortless mix of Barry Humphries' favourite characters. If you're anything like my flatmate, and you're a fan of the comedy legend, you'll be wetting your pants several times throughout this show. It's crude, facetious and very, very funny for the most part. 
Humphries' characters come from an Australia that is slowly fading away. It's not only a farewell tour for Humphries, but a farewell to a generation where xenophobia and homophobia where just a part of everyday life.
Sir Les Patterson's vulgar observational humour is no better symbol for this. His politically incorrect jibes often divided the audience at the Capitol Theatre between ball-tearing laughter and hushed "tsk tsk"-ing. This says more about how audience's attitudes have changed over the years. Les, however, is stuck firmly in 1974.
For the first time we see his brother Gerard Patterson, an ambiguously pedophiliac priest. Gerard, like most of Humphries' characters, plays heavily with innuendo, and is equal parts hilarious and disgusting. One of the high points of the show was when Gerard's ankle bracelet tracker goes off. A delightful joke that had the entire audience laughing and applauding – all except for Glenn Wheatley, who was sitting in front of me. Barry is probably the only comedian in Australia who could successfully pull off a character like Gerard that plays in such complex territory.
Sandy Stone brings a change of pace to the production. The ghost of man long-deceased, reminiscing of times gone past. As one of Barry's most beloved characters, Stone leaves the audience at the end of Act One on a bit of downer. An intentional stop down, in order to prepare the audience for the onslaught of Dame Edna in Act Two. Aside from a series of awkward and unjustified audience interaction segments, Edna does not disappoint.
If you're a comedy fan, Barry Humphries delivers a show that almost feels like a blue print for the foundations for the last fifty years of Australian comedy. Eat Pray Laugh is a nostalgic celebration of Humphries' wonderfully messed up brain. 

Barry Humphries performs Eat Pray Laugh! at the Capitol Theatre, Jul 5-14. 

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By Dan Ilic   |  

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