Comedy review: Barry Humphries' Farewell Tour- 'an uproarious last hurrah'

4.00

Eat Pray Laugh! at the London Palladium

Sir Les Patterson may, as he tells us, have put the “uck” in “tucker” in his new guise as “Australia's answer to Nigella Lawson”, but his creator Barry Humphries is certainly in no danger of putting the “wan” in “swansong” in this uproarious last hurrah to live performance. 

Pushing 80 now and performing four of his characters, Humphries has the audience convulsed for over two-and-three-quarter hours with a riot of lewd and gloriously dubious comic brilliance. Mentally, he's as alert and pouncing as ever, managing to weave topical jokes about Princess Anne and horse meat and about Les's alleged intimacies with Rebekah Brooks into the more time-honoured hilarities of these routines.

The saliva-spraying former cultural attache is trying to reinvent himself as a celebrity chef and the proceedings begin in his backyard where he's rustling up some toxic rissoles on his barbie for a TV pilot while periodically having to dash to the “dunny” for deafening explosions of diarrhoea. It is, outrageously, the definition of lavatory humour.

Les's cheerfully Neanderthal persona is, of course, the licence for an orgy of political incorrectness and his claim that he wants his rissoles to be a metaphor for multi-culturalism results in some breathtakingly near-the-knuckle xenophobic gags: “Is there anyone in Poland, I wonder? I reckon it's the Marie Celeste of Europe”. Humphries plays around with the limits of offensiveness less successfully, however, with a new, under-cooked creation, Les's brother, a toothily blithe and grinning clergyman, Gerard, whose predilections become apparent when his interest in the boyish pianist activates his neon electronic ankle-tag.

The evening takes a wistful turn before the interval with a beyond-the-grave monologue by spectral oldster Sandy Stone who muses on his uneventful suburban life and, in his mild way, launches a quietly devastating attack on the neglect of his wife by the regulation-bound “wellness team” at the “facility” where she is a “registered care recipient”. 

Then, after the break and a hysterical mockumentary about her career so far, Dame Edna arrives, at last, atop an elephant to reveal that she has undergone a spiritual awakening in an ashram and is abandoning the false world of show business.

It's the least retiring renunciation of the stage you are ever likely to witness. “I'm in my comfort zone up here,” she declares, predatory eyes swivelling behind the spangled specs as they rake the far-from-comfortable front rows in search of victims. Her new-found talent for detecting “the perfect tantric match” leads her to drag on two reluctant, ill-assorted victims for an on-stage wedding before ringing up the man's real-life spouse to tell her that she's history. 

The Dame's gift for unforgettably pungent phraseology (her lesbian daughter Valmai and partner are described as “fur-traders”, the mere thought of them provoking a bout of acid-reflux) has not diminished nor has her delusion that she's a radical role-model: “I don't pick on people – I empower them.”

After the ritual waving of gladdies, Humphries returned to stage as himself in a blue velvet smoking-jacket and fedora and made us promise that we would join him again on his next farewell tour. He is an irreplaceable comic genius and one fervently prays that, like his fellow-Aussie Dame Nellie Melba, he will make positively last appearances a way of life. 

To 5 January, then touring till 8 March; 0844 874 0743

Arts and Entertainment
Sir Nicholas Serota has been a feature in the Power 100 top ten since its 2002 launch
art
Arts and Entertainment
Awesome foursome: Sam Smith shows off his awards
music22-year-old confirms he is 2014’s breakout British music success
Arts and Entertainment
Contestants during this summer's Celebrity Big Brother grand finale
tvBroadcaster attempts to change its image following sale to American media group
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Dales attempts to sell British Breeze in the luxury scent task
tvReview: 'Apprentice' candidate on the verge of tears as they were ejected from the boardroom
Arts and Entertainment
Kate Bush: 'I'm going to miss everyone so much'
music
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Laura Wood, winner of the Montegrappa Scholastic Prize for New Children’s Writing
books

Children's bookseller wins The Independent's new author search

Arts and Entertainment
Pulling the strings: Spira Mirabilis

music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Neville's Island at Duke of York's theatre
musicReview: The production has been cleverly cast with a quartet of comic performers best known for the work on television
Arts and Entertainment
Banksy's 'The Girl with the Pierced Eardrum' in Bristol

art
Arts and Entertainment
Lynda Bellingham stars in her last Oxo advert with on-screen husband Michael Redfern

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Hunger Games actress Jena Malone has been rumoured to be playing a female Robin in Batman v Superman

film
Arts and Entertainment
Tim Minchin portrait
For a no-holds-barred performer who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, Tim Minchin is surprisingly gentle
Arts and Entertainment
Clara takes the lead in 'Flatline' while the Doctor remains in the Tardis
tvReview: The 'Impossible Girl' earns some companion stripes... but she’s still annoying in 'Dr Who, Flatline'
Arts and Entertainment
Joy Division photographed around Waterloo Road, Stockport, near Strawberry Studios. The band are Bernard Sumner (guitar and keyboards), Stephen Morris (drums and percussion), Ian Curtis (vocals and occasional guitar), Peter Hook (bass guitar and backing vocals).
books
Arts and Entertainment
Sean Harris in 'The Goob' film photocall, at the Venice International Film Festival 2014
filmThe Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Streisand is his true inspiration
Arts and Entertainment
X Factor contestant Fleur East
tvReview: Some lacklustre performances - but the usual frontrunners continue to excel
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Tuttle's installation in the Turbine Hall at the Tate Modern
artAs two major London galleries put textiles in the spotlight, the poor relation of the creative world is getting recognition it deserves
Arts and Entertainment
Hunger Games actress Jena Malone has been rumoured to be playing a female Robin in Batman v Superman
film
Arts and Entertainment
On top of the world: Actress Cate Blanchett and author Richard Flanagan
artsRichard Flanagan's Man Booker win has put paid to the myth that antipodean artists lack culture
Arts and Entertainment
The Everyman, revamped by Haworth Tompkins
architectureIt beats strong shortlist that included the Shard, the Library of Birmingham, and the London Aquatics Centre
Arts and Entertainment
Justice is served: Robert Downey Jr, Vincent D’Onofrio, Jeremy Strong and Robert Duvall in ‘The Judge’

Film

Arts and Entertainment
Clive Owen (centre) in 'The Knick'

TV

Arts and Entertainment
J.K. Simmons , left, and Miles Teller in a scene from

Film

Arts and Entertainment
Team Tenacity pitch their fetching solar powered, mobile phone charging, heated, flashy jacket
tvReview: No one was safe as Lord Sugar shook things up
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

    A crime that reveals London's dark heart

    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
    Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

    Lost in translation: Western monikers

    Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
    Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

    Handy hacks that make life easier

    New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
    KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

    KidZania: It's a small world

    The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
    Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

    'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

    The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
    From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

    Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

    From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
    Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

    Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

    A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
    The 10 best smartphone accessories

    Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

    Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
    Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

    Liverpool v Real Madrid

    Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
    West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

    Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

    Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
    Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

    A new American serial killer?

    Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
    Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

    Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

    Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
    Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

    Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

    Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
    Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

    Wildlife Photographer of the Year

    Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
    Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

    Want to change the world? Just sign here

    The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?