British media personality Piers Morgan has denounced the Melbourne International Comedy Festival’s decision to “un-cancel” Barry Humphries, calling the festival’s organisers “gutless cowards”.
Following the news of Humphries’ passing at the age of 89 on Saturday, April 22, the festival had initially revealed plans for a commemorative event to honour the legacy of the beloved Dame Edna star.
However, the announcement has attracted controversy as the festival had previously disassociated itself from the comedian in 2019 due to his comments regarding transgender issues. In response, the festival renamed its prestigious Barry Humphries Award.
This decision was prompted by comments made by Humphries in a 2018 interview with The Spectator, where he referred to being transgender as “a fashion”.
Morgan took issue with the festival’s choice to seemingly backflip on their original decision, taking to Twitter to vent his frustration.
“You gutless cowards cancelled him for standing up for women’s rights. You don’t get to un-cancel now he’s dead,” he wrote.
You gutless cowards cancelled him for standing up for women’s rights. You don’t get to un-cancel now he’s dead. https://t.co/tn62yOhD5e
— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) April 24, 2023
Following a fall at his home in Sydney in February, Humphries was readmitted to the hospital due to complications following hip surgery. Sadly, it was there that the comedic genius behind the beloved characters of Dame Edna Everage and Sir Les Patterson passed away.
“It is with great sadness that we announce that Barry Humphries passed away peacefully in Sydney, Australia today. He was surrounded by his family,” his publicist confirmed in a statement at the time.
“He was completely himself until the very end, never losing his brilliant mind, his unique wit and generosity of spirit.
“With over seventy years on the stage, he was an entertainer to his core, touring up until the last year of his life and planning more shows that will sadly never be. His audiences were precious to him, and he never took them for granted.”
Humphries was renowned for his comedic, satirical, and artistic talents, as well as his character acting. His most popular alter egos were Dame Edna Everage, a superstar Melbourne housewife and Sir Les Patterson, Australia’s vulgar cultural attaché to the Court of St. James’s.
Humphries was also a successful film producer, scriptwriter, and London West End musical theater star. Additionally, he was an award-winning author and accomplished landscape painter. In 2010, Anne Pender, his biographer, hailed Humphries as the most significant comedian since Charlie Chaplin.
Humphries’ characters, especially Dame Edna Everage, garnered international acclaim, and he appeared in numerous films, stage productions, and television shows. Edna began as a caricature of Australian suburban complacency but later evolved into a satire of stardom over four decades.