Izzard -- more amusing than hilarious


By ALEXANDER STEVENS | March 10, 2000 | Metrowest Daily News | (thanks Bin!)
BOSTON -- Tame -- it's not a word you'd normally associate with the guy named Eddie Izzard, the stand-up comic with a taste for cross-dressing. He built his reputation with a string of well-received one-man shows before finding breakout success with "Dressed to Kill," a record-setting show that won rave reviews in England and the United States, before the 1999 HBO version of the show turned him into the hot new comic hero of the hip.

In some ways, the crowd that showed up to see him on the opening night of his seven-night stint (through Sunday) at the 57 Theatre was more raucous than Izzard, hooting and hollering as the comic-actor slowly swaggered onto the stage with a hippy saunter that befits this man who's worn more than his share of dresses. The first difference between Eddie old and new: he's no longer dressed in drag. Indeed, he's sporting a goatee, frosted locks, black stretch pants and a wide collar black top that makes him look like he's playing the Melancholy Dane in an S&M version of "Hamlet."

So it's a bit surprising when the best bits of his new show, "Circle," center on rather tame material like Darth Vadar in a cafeteria line, and his musings on why seals are so capable with beach balls -- after all, he points out, you never see a tiger with a banjo.

Silly stuff. But those two bits are laugh-out-loud funny. Still, the fact is that you're likely to spend most of Izzard's two-hour show with a smile on your face. He's amusing from start to finish, but only diehard Izzard fans are likely to suffer stomach cramps from laughing.

With hardly a single "joke" in his repertoire, Izzard is distinctly British, downright Monty Pythonesque when he dives into a silly/funny bit about Jesus trying to explain to God his decision to tell the mortals that wine is his blood. What are you trying to do, Izzard's God asks Jesus, turn them all into vampires?

His sense of humor will be a bit foreign to the uninitiated, those of us who have been brain-washed with the joke-based sense of humor that permeates television and movies these days. "Circle" seems destined to satisfy his current fans without necessarily winning over any new ones. Eddie Izzard is an acquired taste.