Izzard airs silly, musty material for his people
Staight.com| 09.07.03

Comedy Review

Eddie Izzard

Izzard airs silly, musty material for his people

By Guy MacPherson

At the Vogue Theatre on Saturday, August 30.

Robert Nugent (whoever he was) defined popularity as mingling "with the erring throng". That's how I felt Saturday sitting amongst fans of the eminently popular British standup comedian, Eddie Izzard, during his second sold-out show at the Vogue Theatre. Surely I was missing something. Yes, Izzard is an extremely endearing character whose silly asides are often amusing, but his otherwise fumbling, scatterbrained act, replete with bad puns, was tired and uninspired.

Is it the accent everyone loves? Is it his "daring" look? (He entered wearing makeup, red nail polish, stilettos, and breasts, which he described as "the Ferrari of tits".) It surely can't be the material, stuff he must have exhumed from the vault in order to make up enough minutes for yet another North American tour. He joked about the Queen Mother, Margaret Thatcher ("Hitler lite"), and greyhounds chasing mechanical bunnies.

Given his constant use of historical and literary references, Izzard is probably considered a thinking person's comic. But he's just silly--not a bad thing by any means, but despite his edgy look and pseudo-intellectual banter, he's still rather prosaic. Apart from the punning wordplay the British love so much ("endorphin-free tuna"; Greek Sirens sounding like fire engines), his what-if scenarios are also run-of-the-mill. What if Medusa were a teenager today? What if Cro-Magnon man survived and did book-review programs? What if greyhounds talked?

Izzard is so likable he gets away with it. He clearly enjoys himself on-stage and amuses himself with what he seemingly comes up with on the spot. In fact, his act appears to be stream-of-consciousness, one long aside. This may just be an impressive trick (he is an accomplished actor, after all), or it could reveal a lack of faith in his prepared material. His show at the Arts Club Theatre three years ago was funnier and more polished, and had a clearer sense of direction. This one meandered. Although the show is called Sexie, there's no real need for any title, other than as a hook to get bums in seats.

To be sure, Izzard brings out extreme reactions. For his legions of fans, he's a comedic god in women's clothing. For his detractors, such as comedian Bob Odenkirk of Mr. Show fame, he's "about as lame as you can get". In an interview with the Straight last year, he said: "Nothing against him as a person, he's just fucking fake. And that's what comedians do is point out that. Maybe he could have another career pointing out what an empty bunch of crap his first career was. I think it's about time somebody announced the emperor had no fancy feminine clothes."

Sour grapes? Who knows? There are people's comics and there are comics' comics. Izzard, as shown in Vancouver, is definitely a man of the people.


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