SEXIE BEAST | Thanks Teri | July 9, 2003

Eddie Izzard is an endorphin dealer. That’s how this British performer characterises comedy in comparison to drama. “Drama is more gut wrenching,” he says. “Comedy releases endorphins and that’s why the audience becomes junkies, because you’re an endorphin dealer”.

“Comedy is like speed or cocaine or something, its a very cokey, instant hit, you get instant hits of laughs and drama is more like minerals and vitamins and carbohydrates and protein, its a slow release type thing,” he explains.

As arguably one of the most popular comedian’s on the face of the planet, Izzard has legions of addicts who are about to get their fix of his surreal stand up as Izzard is about to embark on his six month Sexie tour, which makes it’s official world premiere in Melbourne next Wednesday night. It’s been three years since Izzard has toured here and whilst he’s been gigging elsewhere in that time, most of his time has been devoted to serious acting in films and theatre.

It been a successful transition to drama for Izzard, who has the critics adoring him as much for his serious performances on celluloid, Broadway and the West End as for his comedy. What this detour from comedy means, though, is that Izzard, as he does his work-in-progress tour to “get my feet back under the table”, now has to figure out “what the hell is stand up?! Oh yes, I talk to people, don't I?” Izzard is going to be talking to a lot of people on this tour. Around a quarter of a million of them, he estimates. The Sexie tour begins in Australia, and then visits New Zealand, North America and the UK: “the english speaking world”, as he puts it. Shows are already selling out, with two dates at Wembley Arena already sold out. That’s a jaw-droppingly impressive ten and a half thousand tickets. Each night. Already sold, with tickets still available for another two nights there. And that’s not even the largest venue he’s playing on the tour. In Manchester, he’s playing a 13,800 seater. “It’s insanely large,” he admits, “so I just hope that the guy up the back is getting it,” he says, slipping into a little impression -“‘you alright? Oh you having a problem? No what, him? yep..’ but you cant think of that.”

In fact, Izzard thinks its still chicken feed compared to the level of success musicians enjoy. “I’ve pushed it for comedy to go to this, because I thought you know, if bands play Wembley Arena, its nothing, no one bats an eyelid, not a press item, nothing and if they play the Stadium, ‘can they do it?’” he says, imitating a vaguely disinterested press of the 80,000 seat venue. “You know, Robbie Williams, he plays 55,000 (seat venues) and his tour is going to be $30million grossing and all this stuff, so my stuff is chicken feed compared to that. I’d just like it that all comedy could go and play arenas and if we do it enough, we can get good enough and work out how to do it. You do lose intimacy,” he acknowledges, but “you gain on this huge event of ten thousand people”.

Izzard says the size of the room (or in his case, arena) doesn’t really change the way he performs. “A critic came to a show, I played a hundred and fifty and then Wembley, the last time I played it, and they said I didn’t do anything different, and it’s true. You lean back a little more but you’ve got a huge screen behind you and we do this thing of just one camera, we don't do five camera shoots, and one camera just pans you from head to waist wherever you go on the stage that is locked on so everyone in the room will feel like they’re seeing the same show, as opposed to watching television.”

Television is something that Izzard has deliberately avoided over the course of his long and successful career. “Initially stand up was, when I first started doing the circuit, people would say ‘I’m just trying to get my equity card’ and we’d hate those people,” he recalls, “and then we found some people would do stand up to get a television career going and then they think ‘stuff the stand up, its too fucking hard’ and I’ve tried to keep doing the stand up and not do the television comedy. In fact, if I do anything on film or television, it’s all sort of drama, (although) it might have comedy in it. It’s a good way of arranging your brain so hopefully you can do decent material at the end of it and some of it will be just waffley and rubbishy, but I’ve tried to keep the quality high and even if it dips, I do know that its dipping and so I try to stop doing that,” he chuckles, “some filler stuff gets in, and bits of rubbish ,although some bits I just really like that no one laughs at but I do them anyway.”

Izzard says his comedy is primarily about amusing himself, and this new show remains true to that. “I’m still talking a lot of bollocks, really. I haven’t really changed,” he says of the journey his comedy has taken. “Initially, I liked listening to bollocks. Peter Sellers, Spike Milligan, Python and then I started doing it. I sort of do it for myself, so I’ve always liked talking complete rubbish.” Well there’s also hundreds of thousands of people around the world who like him talking rubbish as well.


Eddie Izzard’s Sexie is on at the Concert Hall on July 16. Tickets through the usual outlets.