Irrepressible Izzard Dresses for Success
Oregonian | 09.07.03

Cross-dressing British comedian Eddie Izzard has developed a fanatical following for his one-man shows, so much so that he's risen to rock-star status when on tour.

That was evidenced with two sold-out nights this week at the Newmark Theatre for his latest tour, titled "Sexie."

Fans come to his gigs, some dressed sexually ambiguously, as much to see what he's wearing as to hear what he's saying. But what he says far trumps the outfits after just a few minutes, when one realizes that Izzard is perhaps the funniest stand-up comedian working today. It's the comic equivalent of going to see the New York Dolls for the clothes and staying because you dig the music.

Izzard took the stage Wednesday night after a lengthy intro of flashing lights, booming music and a psychedelic video montage. The initial shock of seeing a 41-year-old man with spiky blond hair, blue eye shadow, red lipstick, high-heeled boots, and a tight blue-collared shirt that covered a black bra stuffed with very feminine-looking breasts quickly gave way to Izzard's hilarious, tangential rants on a wide range of subjects.

His jokes are difficult to relay in print, as they often went on for minutes at a time, but suffice it to say, he was at times cerebral, at times irreverent, at times scattershot, and most often just plain funny. His exceptional timing and willingness to talk about any and all subjects make him a unique performer.

He gave a quick opening joke about Oregon pioneers, saying that while the 49ers flocked to California for gold, "They came (to Oregon) to be slightly more alternative." There were hilarious rants about Medusa's hairdresser, Margaret Thatcher as a vampire, the uselessness of jellyfish, comparing superheroes to transvestites (they both go off to change, but transvestites take about 20 minutes), dentists ("why are there nerves in teeth?"), and cyanide in almonds.

He even took a couple jabs at America and its love of guns, as well as the president. "I think George Bush has difficulty articulating things that make sense."

But it was Izzard's rambling delivery and his subtle physical comedy that helped sell the jokes. A bat of a false eyelash, a quick flick of the wrist, and his head-turning conversations when he relayed dialogue between two characters was sidesplitting. A bit where he played a Cro-Magnon man daftly conversing with a Homo sapiens was priceless.

Izzard, unlike on his last tour, did acknowledge his transvestitism several times and got more personal, talking about his upbringing, his first job (eating his way through a candy kiosk), and his transgender confusion ("I know what I'm confused about, so I'm not that confused"). A brief encore had him doing a fairly decent Christopher Walken impression, and the entire night was "Sexie," in its unique way.


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