Izzard's set to run rings around audiences again
The Dominion (Wellington, New Zealand) | Mike Houlihan

TOP British comedian Eddie Izzard's new show is called Circle.

That is possibly because you will feel dizzy after taking one of his offbeat comic journeys.

"This show I call Circle because I feel there's some sort of answer to the universe in circles," Izzard says.

"Space time is curved and the universe is curved like a series of spheres that all turn back on themselves, and all the planets are globes and they all go in orbits around everything.

"Buddhist and Native American religions are all circular . . . "I keep trying to force all this stuff in and make it fit the theme, but I haven't actually managed it yet.

"It ranges from hatred and emotion and the Queen Mother and Socrates and Aristotle and fishing and the Renaissance period and the American Revolution and people who put bees in their mouth. It's a completely disparate series of subjects again."

Such weird and wonderful journeys have propelled Izzard to the top of the British comedy tree. Not that he took a conventional road to comedy stardom.

Beginning as a street performer, he graduated to comedy clubs, where he soon started to attract interest from television producers.

"All through the 80s I was trying to get in to do a telly series before I changed my tack, so when in the 90s they started asking there was a bit of childish glee in saying, `I won't do it'," Izzard says.

"It was a mixture of things. I made a conscious decision not to do a television show like the Eddie Izzard comedy specially, like here' s me doing sketches thing . . . I didn't want to get too much like Mr Comedy because I wanted to do dramatic roles and films."

Izzard has accumulated a diverse range of theatre and film credits.

His roles have ranged from the logical -- playing American comic legend Lenny Bruce -- to the seemingly illogical, such as playing Edward II.

One he is extremely proud of is a role in the world premiere of David Mamet's play Cryptogram.

As his acting career continued apace, so did Izzard's comedy career. The venues he played became bigger and bigger and so did his production, succeeding shows looking more like rock gigs than stand-up shows.

To keep the rock theme going, each show was followed soon after by its own videotape.

The flourishing Izzard cottage industry soon created its own artistic problems, however.

One of the reasons for Izzard's appeal -- as it was for early influence Billy Connolly -- is the seemingly rambling but strangely logical monologue.

Having people cheer as soon as Izzard used a line he had uttered in a video was a disconcerting experience.
Luckily his working method is perfectly designed for such emergencies.

An Eddie Izzard show is not so much scripted as flown by the seat of the pants, and a reasonable proportion of each evening's entertainment is made up on the spot.

"I love improvising because that's when you can entertain yourself, because you don't quite know what you're going to say," Izzard says.

* Izzard performs in Auckland and Wellington as part of the TV2 International
Laugh Festival. --NZPA