The Melbourne International Comedy Festival has taken the drastic but long-overdue step of removing Barry Humphries‘ name from its most prestigious award, in response to eons of repeated transphobic and homophobic comments from the ageing performer.

The festival, which is now entering the final week of its 2019 iteration, unveiled its list of nominees for its annual awards earlier this morning. In doing so, festival officials confirmed that Australia’s most revered stand-up comedy award – the Barry – would be distancing itself from Humphries altogether. Instead, the award for most outstanding show at the festival will simply be known as the Melbourne International Comedy Festival Award.

Humphries has been the subject of ire and derision amongst the comedy community for quite some time thanks to repeated, extremely gross comments on transgender issues.

Last year in an interview with The Spectator, Humphries labelled transgender activism as “terrible rat-baggery,” and asserted trans people were “a fashion.”

How many different kinds of lavatory can you have? And it’s pretty evil when it’s preached to children by crazy teachers.

[Transgender people] had their genitalia chopped off and tucked in and whatever they had to do. And that aroused a lot of indignation — probably among the people who’d spent a lot of money having it done.

The again in 2016, Humphries labelled gender reassignment surgery “self-mutilation,” and called Caitlyn Jenner a “publicity-seeking ratbag” who wanted to “steal the limelight” from other women.

In response, numerous comics have taken a public stand against Humphries, including those who were handed the award that bore his name. 2016 winner Zoe Coombs-Marr and 2017 winner Hannah Gadsby both lambasted Humphries after being handed the award, suggesting he should be dropped from festival recognition altogether.

The Comedy Festival’s move today follows on from an earlier decision to drop Leunig as their official artist after controversy regarding Leunig’s fervent anti-vacccination stances, as well as a string of baffling cartoons on marriage equality and transgender issues.

This year’s nominees for the Melbourne International Comedy Festival Award were announced earlier this morning, and include Anne EdmondsJames AcasterNath ValvoCassie WorkmanGeraldine Hickey, and Tom Allan.

Other awards set to be handed out at this weekend’s late night award ceremony include Best Newcomer, which this year features Blake FreemanNina OyamaDan Rath, and Oliver Coleman as nominees.

The Golden Gibbo, for the festival’s best independently-produced show that pushes the boundaries of the artform, will also be handed out. This year’s nominees for that coveted award include Neil Portenza & Joshua LadgroveLauren BokGame BoysMargot TanjuctoPatrick Collins, and Oliver Coleman.

Humphries himself has not yet issued comment on today’s announcement.

Source: Herald Sun
Image: Getty Images / James D. Morgan