An Open Letter To Eddie Izzard


Dear Eddie:

I am genuinely mystified by the reaction from some fans to your newest show, Circle. Unbelievably, they've complained that they already know some of the material. This is a problem? As a child I was lucky enough to be taken by my parents to see Broadway musicals. I remember enjoying the show even more if I was already familiar with the cast album. The real kick came from seeing it "live!"

Seeing you "live" is a treat far too few Americans have experienced. Most of us came a little late to the party. We missed "the cult comedian" phase. For us, it's all about the talent. And I guarantee you we would relish the opportunity to see bits such as "Engelbert Humperdinck" in person — as well as the chance to witness a work-in-progress from "the evolutionary comedian." Go west, young man, go west. An eager and appreciative audience awaits you.

I have asked Lyn Nierva, webmaster of Cake or Death, to print this letter without my signature. It's not that I'm particularly into anonymity. I'm doing it to illustrate that this letter could have come from any of us here in the States. In many ways, it comes from all of us.


If you'd like to comment on this, I will forward your response  to the author of this letter.

You can email me at:

You can view some of the responses we've received so far.

Below is a review of Circle from The Independent which mentions the Watchdog program and lastly is the original promo for the Weekend Watchdog

(from The Independent, 12.01.99)

Someone recently wrote in to the BBC's consumer-affairs programme, 'Watchdog', to complain that they had heard some of the material at an Eddie Izzard gig before. Consequently, the merchandising stalls in the foyer at the Corn Exchange in Cambridge were selling T-shirts bearing the legend 'The Same Old Shit Tour'. Izzard informed us that the tour was now being sponsored by Watchdog.

Izzard is a bizarre choice of comedian to accuse of recycling material, because his strongest suit has always been his originality. Over the years, the venues may have got bigger; the sets flashier, the costumes glitzier, but the one constant in his act has been an imagination as vivid as the crimson lipstick he sported last Monday night.

Famous for never writing anything down, he just lights the blue touchpaper in his brain and off he goes. The reason we like Izzard is because he is not like the rest of us. His mind just does not function in the same way at all. Who else would make the mental leap from 'The Queen Mother is 99' to 'she's an ice-cream' you can stick a flake in her and sell her through a window'? In another, equally daft routine, he acted out how the Brtis had to improvise with ice-cream vans and lob cones towards the Germans at Dunkirk when their military equpiment had been destroyed.

With Izzard, there is always an exciting frisson of anticipation as audiences wait to hear what weird tidbit his magpie mind will pick up next. At one point, he discussed the mertis of inviting a girl back for a coffee as a prelude to sex. 'Doesn't always work, the coffee thing', he mused. 'If you're the President of Burundi...' Not that his surrealism always comes off. A particularly nonsensical section about microwaving his TV-dinner virginity - don't ask - was greeted with baffled silence. Even then, however, Izzard managed to turn it to his advantage and raise a laugh by adding  :'I just like listening to audiences go eh?'.

He has obviously learnt from the fancy West End plays he's been starring in: he likes to put on a show with a capital S. He came on stage from the top of a 15 foot high purple rose and to the accompaniment of a rocket launch countdown and a multicoloured light-show that may have been borrowed from Genesis circa 1975.

To add to the sense of occasion, he was done up like a starlet on Oscar night - in an eye-catching, all-black combination of a tailored, fur-trimmed jacket teamed with a long pleated skirt and high heeled leather boots.

But, fortunately, these accoutrements did not distract us from the material - which, despite what viewers of Watchdog may claim, remains gloriously unpredictable.

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EDDIE IZZARD Weekend Watchdog 29.10.99

Eddie Izzard is part-way through a 41 night tour of the UK. The Circle tour is being held at 13 venues, with 13 nights already sold out. The tour has been described on the official Eddie Izzard website as ‘new’, but Weekend Watchdog has received complaints from fans to say that most of his jokes are taken directly from his ‘Dress to Kill’ video.

Eddie Izzard’s promoter admitted to Weekend Watchdog that 80% of the material he is performing, is on the video that was released for Christmas last year. He says Eddie was horrified to hear of the complaints made to the programme.

The promoter says because Eddie improvises a lot of his jokes, the proportion of old material will be cut down to 25% by the time the tour finishes. He also points out that this is the first time the ‘Dress to Kill’ material has been performed live in Britain, apart from the Princes Trust charity concert in February. Eddie’s shows will now start with a warning that some of the material is old.