Barry McKenzie

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Barry McKenzie (full name: Barrington Bradman Bing McKenzie)[1] is a fictional character originally created by the Australian comedian Barry Humphries (but suggested by Peter Cook) for a comic strip, written by Humphries and drawn by New Zealand artist Nicholas Garland, in the British satirical magazine Private Eye.[2]

Background[edit]

The Private Eye comic strips were compiled into a book, The Wonderful World of Barry McKenzie, in which McKenzie travels to the United Kingdom to claim an inheritance. The book was published in London, but was banned in Australia with the Department of Customs and Excise stating that it "relied on indecency for its humour".[3]

Films[edit]

In 1972, a Barry McKenzie film, The Adventures of Barry McKenzie, was released, based on the book. In 1974, a sequel Barry McKenzie Holds His Own was produced. The films starred Australian singer Barry Crocker as McKenzie, and chronicled the character's adventures in the United Kingdom and France respectively. In the films, McKenzie is the nephew of another of Humphries' characters, Edna Everage. Despite the banning of The Wonderful World of Barry McKenzie in Australia, the films received considerable support from the Australian government of John Gorton, becoming the first film to receive funding from the Australian Film Development Commission. Later Prime Minister Gough Whitlam even made an appearance in Barry McKenzie Holds His Own, where he granted a damehood to McKenzie's aunt, Edna Everage.[3]

Character[edit]

The character was a parody of the boorish Australian overseas, particularly those in the United Kingdom – unsophisticated, loud, crude, drunk and aggressive – although McKenzie also proved popular with Australians because he embodied some of their positive characteristics: he was genuine, forthright, straightforward, candid to his English hosts, who themselves were often portrayed as stereotypes of pompous, arrogant colonial deviousness.[4]

McKenzie frequently employs euphemisms for bodily functions or sexual allusions, one of the most well-known being "technicolour yawn" (vomiting).[5] The film popularised several Australian euphemisms and slang terms which are still used today in the Australian vernacular (such as "point Percy at the porcelain", "sink the sausage", "flash the nasty").[2] Some of the slang was invented by Humphries, with other terms borrowed from existing Australian slang such as "chunder",[6] and "up shit creek"[7] (adopted by the Australian poetry magazine Shit Creek Review).

Men at Work lead singer Colin Hay said that the lyrics for "Down Under" were inspired by the Barry McKenzie character.[8]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Rebecca Coyle and Michael Hannan: Marking time in the Barry McKenzie films' music, La Trobe University, 2005
  2. ^ a b Macnab, Geoffrey: Bazza turns 30, The Age, 23 March 2003
  3. ^ a b The Mythical Australian: Barry Humphries, Gough Whitlam and "new nationalism", The Australian Journal of Politics and History, 1 March 2005
  4. ^ The Adventures of Barry McKenzie (1972), National Film and Sound Archive
  5. ^ Partridge, Eric (2006). The New Partridge Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English. Taylor & Francis. ISBN 0-415-25938-X. 
  6. ^ Quinion, Michael: Q&A: Chunder, World Wide Words, 22 June 2002
  7. ^ Up Shit Creek without a paddle Everything2, 26 November 2002
  8. ^ Down Under song information Songfacts; Retrieved 27 January 2009