My Mother and Dame Edna

A few years before she died, I took my mother to see Dame Edna, the flamboyant Australian diva, then in the midst of a heroic 8 month Broadway run.

I had managed to score front-row seats at the box office for a decent price. But I was warned: “If you sit in the front row, Edna (Barry Humphries) might decide to pull you up onstage.”

Dame Edna’s show was highly interactive. She sat one couple down at a table and ordered them a full meal from a bistro down the street (which was delivered, onstage, about 30 minutes later). She made a prank call to the baby-sitter of another couple. My mother and several others were given Halloween props to impersonate members of the royal family (thus the rubber ears in the photo: my mother was Prince Charles).

I got a lesson in celebrity when, after the show, we made our way up the isle toward the lobby and main exit. Seeing my mother, random audience members recognized her and reacted as they would if she were Angela Lansbury or Betty White. “That’s Nancy…hi, Nancy” and so on. She was literally living her 5 minutes of fame. I whispered: “Mom, do you realize you just made your Broadway debut?” She shrugged it off. And as for the flash of personal attention, as far as she was concerned, it was all just good manners. She never gave it a second thought.

Here is a dose of Dame Edna: watch how she toys mercilessly with a woman in the front row. My mother briefly served this function (we were warned) but I have to say, Edna was considerably kinder to her.

Here is Edna reeking havoc on “The View”. Watch how, within seconds, she takes over the show.

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