Dressed to thrill
'Action transvestite' Eddie Izzard brings his outrageous comedy show to America - and he's not making any apologies.
Born in Yemen to British
parents, Eddie Izzard has taken his unique brand of comedy to
Iceland, France and Australia. He's primed to take America by storm.
by: AJ Flick | Tucson Citizen | added 06.29.00
Eddie Izzard brings his outrageous comedy show to America - and he's not making any
There's a British Invasion imminent - and he's wearing high heels.
Comedian/actor/self-proclaimed "action transvestite" Eddie Izzard is poised
to conquer the states after a highly successful 1999 HBO special, "Dress to
Kill," and a sold-out, eight-city tour of North America, which ended Monday in New
OK, let's get the transvestite issue out of the way. He isn't gay, and he isn't a drag
queen. Izzard believes in clothing equality and, because women have a choice of pants and
dresses, he thinks men should, too. He sticks to pants for his stage show but often wears
makeup, nail polish and, always, outrageous high heels. You think Tina Turner looks good
strutting in stilettos? Wait till you see Izzard.
Question his sexuality all you want, Izzard is a comic genius - without exaggeration.
In eight years as a mainstage act, having risen from street performer, the 38-year-old
Izzard has become a world-class entertainer whose comedy translates into any language as
Religion is a favorite theme. He acts out conversations between Jesus and God, with
God's voice always an imitation of the great British actor James Mason. During the Los
Angeles run of Izzard's latest one-man show, "Circle," his first words as God
brought delighted shouts and applause from audiences that included Cher, Brad Pitt,
Jennifer Anniston and Elvis Costello.
Izzard's curiosity takes him on imaginative trips back in time, as if Jesus visited
Earth to preach to the dinosaurs, or Charlton Heston - a frequent target - were visited by
a gun-toting monkey. He's just as likely to wonder about the more mundane mysteries of
"Bees make honey," he said in his second standup show, 1994's
"Unrepeatable." "Why? Do earwigs make chutney?"
Seemingly incongruous subjects are scattered throughout his act and introduced in a
haphazard, blunt manner as if the thought had just crossed his keen mind. In
"Circle," major topics included the pope, Heston, the Spanish Inquisition, Elian
Gonzalez, the Pinochet scandal, Margaret Thatcher, Jesus, God and dinosaurs. As with his
other five shows, "Circle" will be sold on video and, like "Dress to
Kill," was taped for HBO.
Watching Izzard in action, for instance acting out boys watching girls play hopscotch
as if it were a mysterious religious ritual, it isn't a stretch to see how he made the
transition into acting.
His stage roles include the lead in David Mamet's "The Cryptogram" and Lenny
Bruce in Julian Barry's "Lenny."
His first big screen role was as a Russian agent in 1996's "The Secret
Agent." The heavy seems to be a recurring role for Izzard. In "Mystery
Men," he is the leader of the "Disco Boys" who gets offed by Janeane
Garofalo's bowling ball. In "The Avengers," his gum-chewing villain is killed by
This year finds Izzard in three films: British offerings "The Criminal" and
"The Circus" and John Malkovich's upcoming summer film "Shadow of the
In July, his autobiography, "Dress to Kill," will be reissued as a paperback.
As Izzard often quips, if you haven't heard of him, that's OK, because he hasn't heard of you, either. That's bound to change very soon.