Preview: Amelia Ryan’s secret crush on Barry Humphries

Amelia Ryan and Barry Humphries
Amelia Ryan and Barry Humphries
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IN her new Fringe show Lady Liberty, Australian comic cabaret star Amelia Ryan presents her manifesto for the modern woman.

Sexy, sassy and sidesplittingly hilarious, Ryan, accompanied on piano by Michael Griffiths, tackles the pressing, and totally first world issues facing the modern woman transforming the Queen of Calamity into the Woman Who Has It All along the way.

Comprising stories and razor-sharp social observations, she asks: In an age where Women Want It All, how do we achieve it?

From Las Vegas romps to long-lasting love, champagne-guzzling to green juicing and box-gaps to feeling #blessed, she sets on a course of comedy, cabaret and song to find out.

Here, however, she reveals her secret crushes... Edinburgh and Dame Edna Everage creator Barry Humphries.

“I fell in love with Edinburgh the minute I arrived. The hidden passageways that connect the narrow streets, the way the sun, occasionally, hits Arthur’s Seat as it sets, and the palpable heartbeat of a city, bursting with productions.

I came armed with my debut show A Storm In A D Cup, ready to take on the elusive mistress that is the Fringe.

Granted, my love affair waxed and waned over the month as Fringe fatigue and several hangovers set in, but upon leaving at the end of August last year, I knew I’d be back.

Enter, Barry Humphries. And yet another, mild, love affair.

Admittedly, I’d had a crush on Barry since I was young. I’d watch my father in hysterics over Dame Edna and knew there was something special about this strange man in woman’s garb.

Never would I have guessed that 20 years later, I’d share the stage with him.

But I’m jumping ahead.

I first met Barry as he wandered the foyers of the Adelaide Festival Centre, clad in his signature bold suit and smart fedora.

It was June 2014, and he was getting acquainted with the venues that would house the shows he’d programme for the 2015 Adelaide Cabaret Festival. Being the world’s biggest Festival of all things cabaret, it was extremely exciting to have Mr Humphries at the helm.

I hold the plum position of Festival Host, so it was only a matter of time before we’d meet.

Imagine my delight, and slight terror, when Barry suggested, in his perfectly charming yet slightly flirtatious way, that he’d love to have me in the programme.

At that stage, we’d barely exchanged conversation, let alone had the chance to prove had any talent. But the seed was planted and my new show, Lady Liberty, was born.

It premiered at the 2015 Cabaret Festival to great success.

Over the months that followed, I got to know the sweet, suggestive, humble and hilarious Mr Humphries quite well.

I had the honour of sharing the stage with him, interviewing him, and even wining and dining, along with my partner Zac. Barry once suggested I was ‘with the wrong man at the table’, but with the wink and smile that he’s famous for. I’m still not sure if he was serious.

It’s a delight to return to Edinburgh this year, and even more lovely that Barry was here for part of it too. Perhaps he planned this all along? His work and spirit have inspired my new show greatly.

It charts the quest for what it means to be Lady Liberty, a person who is unbridled, unashamed, sweet yet razor sharp, and entirely unapologetic for who they are.

Remind you of someone?”

Amelia Ryan: Lady Liberty, Assembly George Square Theatre, until 28 August, 9.40pm, £10-£12, 0131-623 3030