Barry Humphries: ‘Dame Edna says the opposite of what I think, mostly!’

In a new three-part series, Barry Humphries – AKA Dame Edna Everage – explores whether, in our modern world, the older generation can still be young at heart...

Best known as his alter ego Dame Edna Everage, Aussie comic Barry Humphries, 82, presents a new three-part show this week, serving up a humorous guide to the modern world for OAPs.

Here, Barry talks about getting to grips with superfoods, swearing and mobile phones…

How do you feel about being an older person in the modern world?
“When you’re young, you do expect to go on forever, but suddenly life speeds up and the reaper is unfortunately round the corner to strike a macabre note. However ‘with it’ you might be, there are profound differences and customs that are mystifying to the older generation. It’s easy to become a terrible old fogey!”

In this first episode, you try out the current fad for kale smoothies. Did you enjoy them?
“I don’t like kale. I’m not very good with things that are good for me. I don’t exercise at all.”

You have a team of senior investigative reporters working alongside you in the programme, all trying to get their heads around youth culture, including 82-year-old Laura-June, who tackles swearing…
“It’s the funniest! You see this old duck sitting down with these lads and some of the words they’re teaching her are so crude – and then she tries them out on the street! The series really highlights that it’s important to be conscious of the absurdity of life.”

What’s your least favourite thing about the modern world?
“I grouch a bit, but I do like the modern world, though not mobile phones. I take my grandson out for a meal and he’ll be looking at his phone. It drives me crazy that he’s having to consult this machine during a family lunch!”

What have you learned from making this show?
“I’ve learned that I like doing things as me. A very long time ago I was too nervous to ever appear as myself, so I disguised myself, which I still enjoy doing because you can express things through another character satirically. Dame Edna says the opposite of what I think, mostly.”

What does Dame Edna make of getting older?
“Oh, she adapts very easily. She’s a chameleon. She’s ahead of us all.”

What keeps you feeling young?
“By maintaining a lively interest in life. I’m busy, busy, busy and I can’t understand why people have time to play golf – to me that’s the waiting room for the cemetery!”

A Granny’s Guide to the Modern World starts on Wednesday August 3 at 10.35pm on Channel 4.

 

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