Sizzles as He Works a Hot House
Seattle Post Intelligencer| 09.07.03
Facing a hostile crowd would be the work of a moment for Eddie Izzard. He'd charm the multitude and bury remaining troublemakers in a torrential flow of goofy ridicule till they slumped in their seats.
A far more difficult challenge faced him Thursday night, when he opened a three-night run of his stream-of-consciousness comedy at the Moore Theatre. The crowd loved him. He walked onstage, and they went wild.
He tried a nervous look, as if he were a stagehand pushed into prominence by some awful mistake, and it didn't work. The applause was thunderous and the hooting insane.
Just seeing him sent them off. Maybe it was his loopy, out-of-it manner. Maybe it was the heavy makeup, accenting his big blue eyes topped by rakish, dyed blond hair. He tottered a little on his stilettos, waiting for quiet, as his breasts (the best that money could buy) bulged in his shirt.
His reputation preceded him. London's Izzard is the man of the moment on the international comedy scene. Increasingly he's found in movies and plays, but stand-up is what made him and what he does best.
"Wot?" he asked, faking bewilderment. "Is this a football game?"
No good. Finally he hit a nerve. He offered the crowd sympathy for a condition many had been too excited to notice. "No air conditioning in Seattle," he said, shaking his head.
The audience fell silent, suddenly realizing it was miserable. Packed into small, sagging seats in a hot room with no noticeable air flow takes the riot out of people. All that remained to do was to get them laughing.
Izzard's jokes don't work without Izzard. Thursday night he was a failed guide dog pushing his charge into traffic, a fireman who loves his pole and a greyhound racer trying to beat the system. He was also the rabbit waving at the dogs from the back of the truck while smoking a cigarette. Later he was primitive man inventing fire and a member of the posh set at a fox hunt.
He likes discoveries, such as the Doppler effect, which he said was first noticed by Dr. Doppler after he observed firemen racing by and throwing cats out the window: Me-oooooow. He likes to kid Americans about the nutty things they do, such as debate whether private citizens should own assault rifles. "Assault rifles?" he asked, his eyes bulging in disbelief. "For the public?"
Although he said he'd be focusing on Muslims, he touched that subject lightly. "After Sept. 11, I did what you all did, rushed out and bought a Koran." After that, you had to be there.
Any joke he tells early on is likely to crop up later, reduced to a phrase, a word, a lift of the eyebrow. Talking for him is liking weaving: He uses lots of threads to make a pattern. In the pattern is the gold, but by the time he gets there, most people are laughing too hard to notice.