Tracy Hodson | Middle of Nowhere, OR United States | 04/29/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
Dame Edna's talk show, which she explains is actually a monologue interrupted by total strangers, must be seen to be believed. Not for the faint of heart (she can find a double-entendre hiding inside of silence), her guests are sent up without mercy by this genius of the stage. They range from a ?terrified? Sean Connery to Joan Rivers to Larry Hagman to Germaine Greer (an old school chum, actually) on an all-girls night, to former Ministers (including Prime), all of whom struggle to keep up with Dame Edna's wit and energy (you will hang on to your chair for dear life when she begins to dance), and manage to laugh at their own failure to do so--I have yet to see someone manage to hold their own when face to face with her. With a crack research staff, she manages to know and confront her guests with what they seemed to have thought were secrets from dim memory--if you've ever caught her on Jay Leno's show, you'll have seen the deer caught in the headlights look her guests end up wearing as she drops some piquant morsel "just between us," on national television, lovingly says the most appalling things to her "celebrity guests," all in the name of "caring and sharing" with her "adoring public." I guarantee that you'll be laughing so hard it hurts, especially when she uses her state-of-the-art technology to abort interviews in astonishingly final ways.
To understand the genuine genius behind this character, read John Lahr's book, "Dame Edna and the Rise of Western Civilization" and you will be impressed by the thought and purpose of Barry Humphries work in the creation of Dame Edna. Frequently mis-labeled a ?transvestite? and rather strangely slotted into ?[...]-themed? entertainment in this country, while adored in Britain by all sorts (I once had an hour-long discussion with one of the Beef-Eaters at the Tower of London about which interview was the funniest), Dame Edna is a character so thoroughly and consciously created that her autobiography, ?My Gorgeous Life,? was shelved at bookstores in the Non-Fiction department, helping to further blur the line between character and real person. First appearing about 30 years ago in Australia as a satiric commentary on the aspiration to mediocrity that Barry Humphries observed in his country, Dame Edna was at first merely an ?ordinary housewife? who appeared on stage and on telly to indict what Humphries? felt was his countryman?s complete oblivion to art, literature, and in fact anything beyond the acquisition of goods that personified what we in America call ?keeping up with the Jones??. Eventually the character emigrated to England, where she became a Housewife and Superstar, friend to the Queen, advisor to the Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, and long-distance confidant to the bewildered president, Mr. Reagan. In Thatcher?s brutal England where the poor were mercilessly cut loose and the emphasis on middle-class consumption was at an all-time high, Edna came into her own, receiving her status as a Dame of the Empire, and taking Ms. Thatcher?s own words, ?care and share,? and using them to draw attention to the ultimate hypocrisy and cruelty of the PM?s regime. With her silent ?Bride?s Maid and Traveling Companion,?, Madge (played by Emily Perry, who is one of the world?s greatest mimes--no, not the leotard & white-faced sort?the silent actor sort), who is used to receive her mistresses? most pointed barbs and to be a foil to Edna?s blatant self-absorption, she finds a way to decimate her guests while never once losing their good-will towards herself. Nor does she lose ours, as her genius is saying that which we are all thinking, but would never dare to utter. By doing this, she takes us along on the ride of our lives, as both celebrities and we willing serve ourselves up to her gratefully, glad to bask in the reflection of her glory for just a few moments.
See her live in a city near you (but don't sit in the first 6 rows, unless you're willing to end up on stage yourself at the end of the show, and see for yourselves what it is to serve yourself up!), but until then, enjoy watching her treat celebrities like ordinary people, just as she treats the ordinary people in her audiences as celebrities. This Mega-star of the extraordinary face furniture, 100% natural Wisteria-colored hair, and razor-sharp mind will keep you entertained to within an inch of your life.
**** Addendum added after live show in San Francisco, 2005: A friend and I unexpectedly ended up in the very front row on my 4th time seeing the fabulous monster that is Dame Edna, and he was chosen (by her magic Gladiola, her signature flower) to go onstage to act in a "family drama" about Edna's origins, long before she became a Housewife/Superstar, let alone a Dame of the English Empire. Playing her (now deceased) husband, Norm, my friend was put into a hospital gown and slippers, and with several others from the audience, acted with Edna in a lunatic skit in what was meant to be her former, humble Australian suburban home. As her husband, he needed to kiss her, which was frightening and hilarious, and at the end, each of the "actors" were Polaroided with Dame Edna for posterity (or possibly eternal damnation). Having warned viewers here about this danger, I wanted to come back to tell you it had happened to us (never was I so grateful to have been overlooked). The experience was deeply surreal for my friend as well as for me, watching and nearly dying of painful laughter, but the picture has been scanned and sent as a X-mas card from him and Edna, while the original has pride of place on my refrigerator. So again I warn you--watch out should you get to see her live, as even if you don't end up on stage, some people in the first 5 or 6 rows WILL end up in the show somehow, either being interviewed (interogated is more accurate) for all to hear, or perhaps having your homes called so that Edna can interogate your suddenly very talkative children (who are on speaker-phone, telling everyone about your impending divorce), maybe being forced to take off your shoes or jewelry for her inspection and merciless criticism (I say forced, but actually everyone just does exactly what she tells them to, and answers the most personal, outrageous questions from their seats) and perhaps you will be one of the blessed, and end up beside her on stage, only realizing later that you paid a great deal of money and then worked too, rather than the other way round! Therein lies the genius of Dame Edna: she turns your world upside down and inside out, yet you end up thanking her for it. Perversity as Fine Art--that's Barry Humphries and his most marvelous creation, Dame Edna Everage."
Dame Edna Is Much Too Funny
Tracy Hodson | 05/07/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I have to preface this by saying the obvious....eveyone has a different sense of humor. I love what I like to think of as brainy humor...slapstick isn't my thing. Love Woody Allen, hate Jerry Lewis. That said, The tounge-in-cheek humor of Dame Edna consistantly makes me laugh. It's just too funny. Friends of mine don't get it, but that seems to be normal with comedy. Everyone finds different things funny.I'm so excited to see this collection out on DVD....it really is long overdue. You have to see Edna carve up her guests with the most bizzare and hillarious interviews....and watch the guests struggling to figure out if its all for real. And of course, there's Madge! The whole thing is totally nuts, and the best TV show I've ever watched. If you've never seen Dame Edna, you must give this a shot & see what you think. You might just get hooked on Dame Edna Everidge!"
Greatest Comedy Talk Show EVER!
Douglas Keith McEwan | Reseda, California United States | 07/09/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is hardly "Early Edna", since these shows were made in 1987, and Barry Humphries has been playing Edna Everage since 1955. Rather, this is Edna in her prime. These shows are classics, and I was delighted to replace my many-generations-down VHS dubs of the original LWT broadcasts (Some with the original commercials still intact) with these gorgeous, pristine DVD copies. Edna's wit ages well. Some of the guests are dead now (Beautiful Nureyev, Arthur Marshall, odious Mary Whitehouse), some are unknown in America (Dennis Lichfield, Arthur Marshall, odious Mary Whitehouse), some are easy targets (odious Charleton Heston, Zsa Zsa) and some are beloved (Sean Connery, Larry Hagman, Sir John Mills) but all are irrelevant, merely settings to show off Edna's wit. There are many highlights, but the two biggest to me are both on the last program, Edna's delightful duet with Sir John Mills and her unforgettable pas de deux with Nureyev. He's the one out-of-breath after dancing with her. The extras are worth the price of the set by themselves. Edna subjects Barry Humphries to some of her patented tough love, and be sure to ignore Edna's warning and press the Madge Button. You'll finally hear Emily Perry's voice as she does a completely charming song and dance, with Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber as her accompianist's page-turner! Be sure to listen to all of Edna's spiel's on the menus, and, if you routinely skip the text bios on discs, don't skip the ones in Edna's "Guestbook". They're written by Edna, and they're as hilarious as everything else. This is top flight entertainment from the funniest man in the world. And don't fret. The other season of The Dame Edna Experience, as well as her Christmas specials, will be out in October. Now, when will we get "The Complete Dame Edna's Hollywood"?"
Oh Possums, you must buy this dvd!
Daryl B | Nashville, Tennessee United States | 11/28/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"What can you say about Australia's most famous housewife megastar that hasn't already been said? Dame Edna is the best Australian export since, well....since ever! I am so pleased to see the release of The Dame Edna Experience 1 (and 2, as well as her Christmas specials!). If you haven't heard of Dame Edna (and that would be impossible consider the megastar she is) then you must give this dvd a try. Dame Edna, a few decades back introduced us to her version of a talk show---a monologue interrupted by strangers. Regardless of the guests (which include Jane Seymour, Zsa Zsa Gabor, and Larry Hagman to name a few), it is the great Dame herself who provides all the entertainment and certainly all the laughs. Accompanied by her ever present New Zealand bridesmaid, Madge Alsop, Dame Edna welcomes the guests and provides them with a name badge, in case she forgets their names, of course!
The dvd contains 6 programs and an introduction by Dame Edna herself. Also, the second disc includes lots of fun bonus material---A Night With Dame Edna Everage, in which she takes questions from the audience, peppered with such famous people as Joanna Lumley of AbFab. There are two interviews, one where Dame Edna interviews her "alter-ego" and creator Barry Humphries. Dame Edna sings her theme song "Niceness" and you mustn't forget to push the Madge button!
I recommend this for all the fans of Dame Edna out there---run, don't walk, to get this treasure on dvd! And for the rest of you, ditto! If you want a lot of laughs this is a must for your dvd collection!"