At the end of "French Toast Bread Pudding," Dame Edna pretends she's my upstairs neighbor whose "inner megastar is hungry, possum! Quick sticks!"
Way back in 2006 I got this idea that what the world needed was an album of songs about food that included recipes. A kindly man, Mark Hawley, became executive producer, and the result was "One Meat Ball," a cookbooklet with a CD tucked into the back cover. I rounded up musicians who had food songs, and I ended the project with my song, "French Toast Bread Pudding," and then followed it with "messages" left by some of the musicians who appear on the album -- Vance Gilbert, Megon McDonough, and Jeff Daniels. But I wanted Dame Edna to be the final voice -- and it took a loooooooong time to make that happen.
Dame Edna at the time was on Broadway for her second run, a show she called, "The Royal Tour," and agreed to record a "phone message" about demanding I bring her whatever it is I am baking. At the time mastering engineer Phil Klum was working out of a mastering studio just a couple blocks from the Broadway theater where Dame Edna was holding court. He was instructed to "drop everything" when Dame Edna walked through the door, and get her voice on tape.
Easier said than done.
As Dame Edna's show was extended again and again ("I've been extended so many times, possums," she said, "that I'm the spandex of Broadway") her recording session was put off again and again, too. She was planning on riffing on whatever crossed her mind when she got to the studio. Every few days she'd tell me, "This is the day!" but then it didn't happen.
When her show was finally closed she told me she could go in and do it -- and what exactly did I want? So I emailed her a sample script -- by now I had seen her show so many times I knew how to get her rhythm of speech down.
Lo and behold, she called the studio, did it over the phone, and read the script I had written for her.
For as long as I live I will die happy knowing that I wrote something that Dame Edna voiced. I have said many times that Barry Humphries is the most creative mind in the English speaking world. Not only did he create Dame Edna out of thin air, he had other characters who would make appearances, plus he was an excellent painter. If you ever see a book or a painting for sale that was created by Barry Humphries, snap it up!
"French Toast Bread Pudding" Christine Lavin & Friends, featuring Dame Edna
R.I.P. Barry Humphries,
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