By JONATHAN FOREMAN | NY Daily News | June 25, 2000
THIS is a wonderful room ... but a bit of a bugger." said Eddie Izzard when the sound system made strange burping noises every time his voice hit certain notes.
Izzard is one of Britain's national treasures. The thinking person's stand-up comic, transvestite and movie actor (mostly in flops like "The Avengers" and "Mystery Men") is back in town for his third U.S. tour and he can still make your cheeks hurt from two hours of grinning and laughter.
As usual, his show, this time called "Circle," is partly scripted, partly ad-libbed and gloriously surreal, proceeding like a brilliant, haphazard one-sided conversation in a pub.
He still sports lipstick and high heels, but there's also a what looks like a thin goatee - it could be some kind of scar - under his chin. And he still does a hilarious James Mason imitation when speaking as God.
All the core ingredients of an Izzard show are here: the wide ranging erudition (how many stand up comedians know that "zero degrees Kelvin" is the equivalent of minus 273 Celsius?), the love of history, the ease with which he becomes two people in conversation, the Gary Larsonesque ability to make animals move in comically human ways, the delightful, unpredictable looping back to early themes and jokes.
Still, pioneers of Eddiemania who caught him at P.S. 122 on his "Glorious" tour, or at the Westbeth for "Dressed to Kill" may feel that the new show in a larger venue rarely reaches the heights of the "cake or death" sketch or his riffs on Julius Caesar.
There are also a few moments when a kind of British New Labor political correctness seems to have seeped into his material. It's not just that he goes on and on about Margaret Thatcher (who's been out of power now for a decade), he also attacks hostility to the French like a typical Blairite Europhile and makes (hilarious) digs against the NRA.
"Guns don't kill people; people kill people. And monkeys kill people (if they have guns)" he says before launching into a long, inspired train of thought about apes would behave if someone gave them guns.
It culminates in a brilliantly acted sequence with Izzard playing an ape assassin who has broken into Charlton Heston's house.
Another highlight is a sharp riff on "Saving Private Ryan" and the total absence of America's British, Canadian and Free French allies from the film.
There are some weak moments too, (including the "Jesus - Hey Zeus!" joke from "Die Hard 3") especially during a long section that deals with religion and tries to explain why the Bible doesn't mention the Dinosaurs.
But there's no one else like Izzard. And if you've never seen him you should head straight for the Town Hall, or failing that, rent one his two concert videos.