at the Aotea Centre
08.08.2003 | NZ Herald | by PETER CALDER
British comedian Izzard calls his show Sexie and explains that "it could have been called 'elbow' but 'elbow' doesn't sound as sexy as 'sexie'."
His comedy is strictly for people who understand the twisted and unassailable logic of that sentence.
His joke-free standup, which he describes as "talking complete crap for two hours a night", is winningly amusing because it follows a map even its creator can't read, but the trip is never boring.
Izzard arrives here in the early stages of a tour which will culminate in Wembley Stadium (he thinks big, this boy) at Christmas and there's a real sense of watching a work in creation in this generous 100-minute show. He writes imaginary notes to himself about the flat bits, reading them aloud as he "writes" them: "Don't. Try. That. Again" and then wondering why he's "writing" with his left hand when he's right-handed.
But it's hard to escape the impression that Izzard-in-progress is better than Izzard-fully-formed would be (assuming there could ever be such a thing). This is a man who stands in front of us while his synapses fizz and crackle and lets us listen to the soundtrack and the feedback. He's best when he's lost, like the guide dog he impersonates, looking at the map from every angle and shrugging.
The comedian's special brand is as a heterosexual cross-dresser (a male lesbian, he called himself in one interview) but anybody who goes looking for a drag act will see something more subtle. Sure, those are slacks, not trousers, and that shirt is cut into the waist, but even with a glimpse of lacy bra peeping out and a few episodes of gorgeous pouting, he looks less sexy than he apparently feels.
It's in what he says, rather than how he looks, that Izzard's appeal resides. From the opening affectionate riffing on the Kiwi accent (he has a lot of fun with "dick" and "deck" before observing that "all your vowels have moved across one") through to the encore, an utterly weird impression of Christopher Walken's watch speech in Pulp Fiction, he keeps us hooked. The invention of fire, and the idea that racing greyhounds might one day work out that what they are chasing is not a real rabbit, are rich sources of fun.
It's no small achievement to command a stage alone. Apart from a little help from Tom Jones in the pre-show and an indecently kitsch light show to start each half, Izzard plays with nothing but a microphone for company.
Sure, there are flat spots, but at his best Izzard sustains what distinguishes the best comedy - the impression that he's making it up as he goes along.