Eight hours' hols for busy Izzi - Eddie Izzard talks a lot on stage but rarely gives interviews. However, Showbusiness Reporter GORDON BARR tracked him down for this exclusive chat
AD-LIBBER: "Anyone who has seen my shows knows that I go off at a tangent. Sometimes I find I'm doing it and there's just no stopping me"

From the Newcastle Evening Chronicle


HOLIDAYS are at the forefront of Eddie Izzard's mind.

When we chat, he is coming to the end of his acclaimed run in the hit West End play Lenny and is gearing up for his national stand-up tour.

And, in between, he is going to have a holiday.

"Eight hours of sheer bliss," he sighs. "That's my holiday for the year. I'll finish on the Saturday and start again on the Sunday, so I'd better make the most of it."

You can't deny Eddie, at Newcastle City Hall on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday as part of the city's Comedy Festival, is something of a workaholic.

Film, stage, TV - this year he's done it all, and there appears to be little let-up in demand for him.

A few years back, Eddie, probably now Britain's best-known transvestite, was a cult figure, known only to students and a few "trendy" bods.

These days he is one of Britain's top comedians, selling out venues wherever he appears.

His current tour, Circle, has had its critics. Some fans left earlier performances disappointed, saying much of the material was old hat.

Eddie has apologised, but the show that hits Newcastle next week will no doubt be very different to those at the start of the tour.

"I never write material on cue," he says. "I just make it up as I go along and I make no apologies for that.

"There may be central themes, but my show is different from night to night.

"I just ad-lib. New thoughts come into my head and if something works I'll remember it for the next night.

"Anyone who has seen my shows knows that I go off at tangents. I can't help myself. Sometimes I find I'm doing it and there's just no stopping me.

"What can you do? And I believe my shows get better as the tour goes on - it's improvisation of a sort."

Eddie had to learn a new discipline in his role as Lenny, based on the life of the legendary American comic Lenny Bruce, which went down a storm in London.

"I needed terrific discipline," he admits. "Sometimes I wouldn't be disciplined enough and would start ad-libbing. "

"The temptation to go off at a tangent was always there."

"There was more pressure. "

"I was acting, I was playing someone else."

"Everyone has their own idea of what they thought Lenny was like, and I was supposed to be him on stage. Frightening! "

"He was the godfather of alternative comedy, but he also had a tragic life."

"There was immense pressure, but it was gratifying at the same time to be given the chance to do it."

The reviews, on the whole, were flattering. "I never read reviews until about two weeks after they've appeared," reveals Eddie.

"And I do take on board some of the things they say, if I think they're worth their salt. If not, I just rip them up."

Don't be surprised if there's an element of the current beef row in Eddie's show.

He is a staunch supporter of all things European, but just what his stance on the current crisis may be is anyone's guess.

Our interview took place before the current furore, and Eddie believes we Britons should stop moaning about Europe and accept we are a member of it.

"We never have any problems going there for our holidays, so why is there so much fuss about becoming more integrated with Europe?" he says.

"We seem to have this thing about being superior to Europe, but if you take a look around Britain now, we ARE Europe."

"We have Continental-style cafes, relaxed licensing laws in some places - it's time we just accepted it."

"I'm also in favour of the euro. To me, it marks progress and is not regressive. "

"And I'll be trying to put that message across in my show, too."

"I always have some politics in my shows, but I won't go on and on about it. That's not what people come to hear."

"They might not understand what I'm talking about some of the time, but I'm sure they don't want to be blasted with politics from every corner."


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