Eddie Izzard- On the Verge of Conquering America

He's the best comic of his generation, he's broken more box office records in Britain than any other living person, he's now become a movie star and he's on the verge of conquering America, but still the only reaction Eddie Izzard gets when he walks down the street is people saying 'Is that a bloke in a dress?' 'I don't as people say wear women's clothes. I wear my clothes. That's all it is.' It is indeed, except Eddie, contrary to popular belief is not a transvestite' as he says as he sits at his dressing room mirror, fluffing his hair and adjusting his clothes before he goes on stage in the Hammersmith Apollo.

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'Have you ever heard a woman being described as a transvestite ? Well have you? No, exactly and that's my point. Women can wear whatever they like, including trousers and no one bats an eyelid, so in that sense they have total clothing rights. However if a man chooses to wear a dress, they get called a tranny. All I'm arguing for is for both sexes to be able to wear women's clothes. I wear my clothes. That's all it is.' Eddie's transvestism is perhaps one of the least interesting things about him, given that he possesses one of the finest, sharpest and incisive comic minds going. As much as you try to ignore it though, it is he who brings it up in conversation, as when he related a fabulously funny story (although probably not in print) about going to 10 Downing Street to meet Tony Blair dressed up as what some people would refer to as a transvestite. 'It was great, Blair had invited all the arty people around, Oasis and people like that were there, and I got out off the car and waltzed past the photographers outside the house in all my slap. I was the first TV, if you will, ever to be invited to see the Prime Minister and when I got in I searched around for a phone and I rang my father and said 'Guess where I am?' and he said 'You're round at Tony Blairs, I saw you going in on the news". It was brilliant.' A role model perhaps? 'I would hope so, yes. The other day I was in HMV buying records and this bloke came up to me and he was obviously a TV and he said "I think what you're doing is great" so I'd like to think it's all very positive and groovy in that sense.

I was scared at first and the worse thing was that every TV has to go through his frumpy phase when they first start, everyone wearing the ill-fitting, gaudy outfits with a crap hair do and crap. If there was a time when he was a bit uncomfortable with his transvestism, these days he's very positive about it. After a gig in Cambridge a few months agohe was walking back to his hotel when a gang of blokes piled out of a pub. One of them approached Eddie and said "Oh Travey, give us a kiss", Eddie tried to reason with the young man but he and his four mates started to beat him up. Eddie fought back and the incident resulted in a court case, which he won. He was awarded 100 in costs. He spent it on make up.

It's time for him to waltz out on to the stage where he's performing his brand new glorious show. Slot through with typically surreal and impossible tales, Eddie takes us on his own personalised trip through the old and New Testaments before doing some excellent stuff on hopscotch and skipping being a feminist conspiracy, explaining what grass could say if it could talk and other such coruscating material. It's a blast and a half and as we join up with him again at the after show in London's planetarium we find him surrounded by Ewan McGregor, Harry Enfield, Diana Rigg & various members of Suede and Radiohead. "I never really wanted to do this', he says., "I wanted to be in the Army'. Excuse me? "No it's true, I was a real tomboy as a child and what first attracted me to the army was potatoes because I used to love potatoes and I had that image of standing over a massive saucepan peeling all these potatoes. It wasn't just that though, I really fancied all the running, jumping, hiding and canoeing that went on in the army. The only thing that stopped me joining was the killing people part. I wasn't into that at all and indeed still aren't.

After being thrown out of University - "Well, I tell the press I was thrown out because it sounds good but in reality I begged them to let me stay' he was a street performer in the Covent Garden for a few years and he says it was invaluable training. "People aren't paying in to see you so you really have to work hard to attract their attention. I used to do very weird stuff, anything that would get them to hang around for a while. It was very difficult and since than I've always gone out of my way to make things as difficult as possible which is why when I started doing stand up, I always refused to go on the television and do my stuff (as in the TV who doesn't do TV) and gradually I built it up by word of mouth and stuff.' Unlike some comics who go into acting, Eddie has stubbornly refused to do any funny man roles although he will be appearing in a whole rake of films over the next few months instead of playing it straight. "I've got a part in the film version of the Avengers alongside Ralph Fiennes and Uma Thurman I play a thug gangster part and all I do is stand around chewing gum, looking moody and punching people. It's great' After his Dublin gig, he's going to be out of circulation for a year or so as he prepares to storm Broadway and beyond in America. "I've played there before and people always say "Oh, they'll never understand your humour, it's too weird for them' but they were well into it and I began this tour in New York back in October and it was great. New York is the key to America, if I can make it there....'


From www.newmedia.ie