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Barry Humphries’ Melbourne comedy award renamed after anti-trans comments

Precious Adesina April 16, 2019
Barry Humphries as Dame Edna Everage.

Barry Humphries, who plays Dame Edna Everage, has made anti-trans comments on many occasions. (Lisa Maree Williams/Getty)

The Melbourne International Comedy Festival has renamed its top prize originally named after Barry Humphries following anti-trans comments.

It was announced on Monday (April 15) that the Barry Award will now be called the Melbourne International Comedy Festival Award. It had been named after Humphries, best known as alter-ego Dame Edna Everage, who is one of the festival’s founding patrons.

Although the festival is yet to confirm what sparked the decision to change the name, many have pointed at Humphries controversial comments in an interview with The Spectator in 2018 where Humphries called being transgender “a fashion.”

“How many different kinds of lavatory can you have? And it’s pretty evil when it’s preached to children by crazy teachers,” he added.

Barry Award deserves the festival’s name

“It is time for the award for most outstanding show to be in our name to celebrate the city that inspired the growth of our festival and its outstanding artists,” the Melbourne International Comedy Festival’s director, Susan Provan, said in a statement.

“It’s pretty evil when it’s preached to children by crazy teachers.”

— Barry Humphries

This year’s nominees include trans comedian Cassie Workman for her show Giantess, which touches on her experience transitioning. Anne Edmonds, Geraldine Hickey, James Acaster, Nath Valvo and Tom Allen have also been nominated for the prize.

Barry Humphries is no stranger to anti-trans comments

Humphries also made headlines in 2016 after an interview with the Telegraph when he called Caitlyn Jenner “a publicity-seeking ratbag.”

Transgender Caitlyn Jenner at a conference.
Barry Humphries called Caitlyn Jenner a “rat-bag” in 2016. (Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty)

In the same interview Humphries agreed with comments by author Germaine Greer who said transgender women are “men who believe that they are women and have themselves castrated.”

“I agree with Germaine! You’re a mutilated man, that’s all,” Humphries explained.

In a statement on Tuesday (April 15), comedian Zoe Coombs Marr, who won the award in 2016, said the decision was a “massive win.”

“I’m so proud of the comedy festival for doing what Barry Humphries himself seems unable to do – listening to criticism, moving with the times and stepping up to the plate to ultimately make things more inclusive for everyone,” said Marr.

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