Barry Humphries’ name pulled from top honour at comedy festival


barry humphries as Dame edna in absolutely fabulous the movie
Photo: 20th Century Fox

The Melbourne International Comedy Festival has removed Barry Humphries’ name from its awards list following backlash over the iconic Australian comedian’s comments about transgender people.

The festival unveiled its list of nominees for its annual awards on Tuesday morning, and the “Barry” award, which honoured the festival’s best show, has been renamed the Melbourne International Comedy Festival Award.

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“Melbourne International Comedy Festival is one of the world’s greatest comedy festivals and 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,” festival director Susan Provan said of the name change on Tuesday.

Provan told ABC News Humphries’s comments were “not helpful” and “definitely played a part” in the name change, but the festival had been considering the move for “a while”.

Humphries made headlines last year after making comments to The Spectator, which were widely panned as transphobic.

The comedian dismissed transgender activism as “terrible rat-baggery” and said transgender issues were a “fashion,” asking, “How many different kinds of lavatory can you have?”

“And it’s pretty evil when it’s preached to children by crazy teachers,” he continued.

In 2016, Humphries slammed gender affirmation surgery as “self-mutilation” and called Caitlyn Jenner a “publicity-seeking ratbag” who wanted to “steal the limelight” from other women.

Humphries attempted to walk back some of his past comments last month in an interview with the Sunday Times, saying that “nothing has been more grotesquely interpreted”.

“Edna carefully said she thought that men who had themselves castrated did not become women, and that got taken the wrong way,” he said.

Previously, other comedians had spoken out against Humphries including Barry award winners Zoe Coombs-Marr and Hannah Gadsby.

“I cannot walk past those comments. I do not agree,” Gadsby said in 2017.

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