With many live acts trimming back on road time, Dame Edna soldiers on. She recently completed 115 dates in the U.S. with “The First Last Tour” (promising not to outdo Cher with multiple farewell tours) before heading to Europe this fall.
“I would like to think I was recession-proof,” trills the violet-coiffed Aussie housewife, who made her stage debut in 1955. “In some cities, there were a few gaps in the audience, but these represented theater subscribers who had passed away and Bernie Madoff investors.”
But perhaps more significant this year than Edna’s drawing power is her message, a mix of un-p.c. straight talk and maternal TLC that makes her the perfect theatrical comfort food for these uncertain times.
“The reaction of my recent American audiences was more intense and grateful than any audience I have known,” she says. “I’ve always been in the cheering-up business. I nearly called my show ‘Dame Edna’s Stimulus Package.’ ”
Though the guy behind the goddess, Barry Humphries, is Australian, he feels right at home in the U.S. and would welcome the chance to make films here. “I’m really a character actor,” he says. “My client, Edna, whom I’ve managed for 50 years, tends to overshadow me.”