Bloke in a Dress

(from Sad Magazine)

In the autumn of 1996, Eddie Izzard had just completed a short world tour before bringing his ‘Definite Article’ show to Britain. Shortly before his appearance at Manchester’s Bridgewater Hall, home of the Halle orchestra, he talked to Simon Barnard, our very own brown noser to the stars, about the new show, the tour, his then-forthcoming sitcom Cows, and huge dogs...

Eddie!

Yeah...

We’re in a taxi!

No we’re not. This is a just a very expensive sound effect.

Is Manchester treating you well at the moment?

It is treating me well... it’s interesting to meet Manchester collectively and see how it is treating me, but it is, generally... People are shouting at me, which is kind of unusual. But then, I’m wearing this very loud jacket which I think is a sort of shout-at type jacket. Ahm... yes, so it is grand, and I’m playing the Bridgewater Hall. And, we have this ridiculous set that I’m now touring with, which is, I think, the first time I’ve ever done it, I’ve ever toured with a set... Oh God, that’s interesting. I’ve been trying to get an entourage, you see, I’ve been trying to build up an entourage because they have it in rock and roll all the time, but comedians, there’s only one person involved in the show, so it’s a bit difficult to have an entourage, whereas bands already have an entourage, because they are an entourage. And, so, ahhh, now I’ve got millions of show set people, but I’ve got to hire millions of people to try and beat their way through as well. I think I should do this - “Rent-a-horde”, kind of thing. But we have this very large set, which I’m quite pleased about, just to be touring around with this set - for no reason, as well, there’s no reason to have this set, really. But, it’s the way forward, to have huge expensive touring things, which are just pointless.

Good. Comedy, the new rock and roll. You’re doing the Bridgewater Hall, classical place. So what’s going on there?

Well, fishing is the new rock and roll now. And comedy is the new, erm, mountain climbing, of the forties. What’s going on there... well, I just play venues, so it doesn’t really matter who plays in there. And, Halle, er, I was talking to Halle about his orchestra, and he said, well, you can use my room if you want, cos, er... We just needed a place that was big enough, and we needed, seats that were pointing in the right direction. And it’s weird because stand up comedy is like in-between theatre and rock and roll, so it’s got nothing to do with orchestras at all. But it’s interesting that Halle’s got a comet and an orchestra, and I don’t know quite how he arranged to get both. He just must be a really connected French guy. Erm... so yeah, it’s nice to play there. I’m in the head conductor’s office... I’ve got a piano in my dressing room, which is kind of weird, so I can just sit down and play piano.

This is the first British leg of the world tour.

Yeah.

So how’s the world tour been going?

Well, it has gone, er... well, from my expectations... it’s gone really well actually. It’s really boring hearing [that], it should be tragedy... I was attacked, I was attacked in Amsterdam, and I threatened to kill a guy, erm and er, anything happen in New York? New York went well. I enjoyed that, and Iceland was great, and Sweden was pretty good, Denmark was really good, er... Holland was kind of medium, cos I keep going to Holland and they keep going, “Yes, yes, we quite like that.” And I’d like to be able to... let’s build this up, let’s make this a happening gig. It hasn’t quite clicked in Holland. I’m going to keep going to Holland because I really like the Dutch, and I want to make it work there.

You were doing gigs in French as well. So can you tell us a joke in French?

Oui. Il est deux hommes, et ils entre dans un bar. Et, er, un homme est dit, je voudrais un bierre, s’il vous plait, et il dit, er, oui. Et l’autre homme a dit je ne vous pas rien. Rien de tout. Et l’homme qui est derriere le bar a dit, eeeh, je ne suis pas, erm, tres horreux, parce que je voudrais garnier beaucoup d’argent. Et le premier gent, il dit, oh, okay. Pardon.

...It’s not a big laugh. But it’s quite good French. I don’t do jokes. Did you follow that?

Not at all!

All I said was ‘cabbage’, many times... (Laughter).

Now what’s happened to the cows?

Well, the cows have taken over my home, and so I’m picketing them, and they’re running for President of China, next year... Well, no, I’ve written a sitcom called Cows... You said what’s happened to Cows as if everyone knows exactly what you’re talking about...! I wrote a sitcom called Cows. Well, no, I said I was going to write a sitcom called Cows about five years ago, and now I have co-written it, with my co-writer, whose name is Nick Whitby, who is a very good writer. And so we’ve written a one hour special, and it goes on Channel Four December or January. And all the main characters are cows. And Pam Ferris from Darling Buds of May is in it, and James Fleet, who was in Four Weddings and a Funeral. And it takes about twenty minutes to click into it, but... we’re making this for the long term. It is kind of weird, it’s like Planet of the Apes, that was humans playing apes, and this is humans playing cows, with cow prosthetics. So it’s different, and, erm... Bizarrely this is a sitcom with a sofa in. We have a sofa, but the whole house has been trashed, because cows tend to move in and they, instead of loft conversions they convert everything into a barn. They do barn conversions, where they barn-ise everything. They go in and they just take walls out and stuff. Make it into a nice barn feel.

Is there anything else you’d like to say, to the citizens of Manchester?

Yes, I’d like to say hello, how are you... I’m looking out of a taxi window and there’s a dog that is twice the size of a building, walking along. But walking along... staggering along. My God, it looks like it’s eaten another dog, just about its size. It really is the most odd-walking dog. I think that one’s been bred.. bred to kingdom come, as they say. My God, he’s carrying poop... The owner of the dog is carrying poop towards us. We have to drive! Drive like crazy. Drive for the hills... No poop... No poop, no problem, as they say, in the White House... I don’t know where we are now.

 

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