The Courier-Mail (Brisbane, Australia) | Cameron Adams

There's more to Eddie Izzard than an unconventional wardrobe, says Cameron Adams.

BRITISH funnyman Eddie Izzard is a comedian's comedian: a cult act whose videos and books are traded in a kind of comedy black market where local acts swap anecdotes from the man described as a comedy genius.

Izzard is finally bringing his stand-up show to Australia, which means he has to explain himself -- why he wears make-up and occasionally dons women's clothing and footwear.

He calls himself a male lesbian, or a male tomboy, ``because while I am a transvestite, it's a crap word''.

Izzard is straight -- he just likes to wear heels and make-up. There's a fine distinction. He's quick to point out that he's not a drag queen, rather one of the few ``out'' straight transvestites.

``There's not a huge amount of out transvestites in the entertainment  field -- or any field for that matter,'' Izzard says.

``The vast mainstream still don't understand it. I'm trying to put across positive information on the alternative sexuality that it is.

``People tell me I'm a role model for them, but I'm trying to be a  positive role model for myself.''

Since finding fame as a stand-up comedian in the UK, Izzard has done his best to avoid being pigeonholed. He's moved into drama, playing Lenny Bruce in London's West End, and constantly rejects offers for his own TV show.

``I want to do dramatic roles on film. If you get big on TV you get  stuck with this comedy baggage and that's how people always want to see you. I don't want to become Captain Comedy.''

His Dress To Kill show was a hit in the US, where Robin Williams (who produced a leg of one of his shows) is a fan. And former Monty Python member Eric Idle was so impressed he bought every seat in the house for one of his US shows.

``I'm one of the few comedians who's not a frustrated rock star. I'm a frustrated film star. That's why I got into comedy, to get into film. Now I'm in films but I'm not a film star, I'm a minor supporting actor.  I just want to be Kevin Spacey basically, to do films which are
alternative but work commercially.''

So far Izzard has had small roles in biggish films, none of which connected with the masses.

Izzard's take on Australia however is as stereotypical as his own characterisations: ``My impression is it's where Mad Max and Neighbours meet.''

Of his own stage routine he is just as profound: ``It's surreal, observational comedy -- carefully crafted crap.''