Izzard’s universe of absurdities

[from tonight.co.za]


VENUE: Nelson Mandela at the Joburg Theatre

WHEN: Tuesday night

RATING: ****

Dissing anything from opera to God, Eddie Izzard has a logical explanation for everything he talks about. And with more than three hours of comical chatter, there’s not much he doesn’t attempt.

“I’m an action transvestite,” he proclaims, stepping out in a macho uniform of jeans and tails.

“I like make-up and fights!”

But on the night, he didn’t show any of that. His battle, if any, was displayed in a stream of consciousness that had something to do with civilisation and our reason for being here.

“Nothing,” says the man. “We’re simply here.”

From bok choy, which he describes as a vegetable that’s given up, to carpets and cats that could be had by anyone who was in Persia at the time, an appendix that has little use but to digest grass and thus pleads to be added to the back of a book, his thoughts fly fast and furious and you have to keep your wits about you to stay with the laughter.

But when you do, the rewards are hilarious from this comedian, who wins them over from the US to the UK and finds his rhythm as easily in Africa.

Locally, he was quick to get to the heart of things. “Your president will marry everyone,” he said to screams of laughter. “It seems similar to Bill Clinton, but it’s different,” he said shaking his head, while mumbling, “but I don’t want to go there.”

Performing to a packed theatre and one that gave an ovation when he appeared on stage and prepared to leave, he obviously has hardcore South African fans who applauded wildly whenever he said something they had heard before.

Did he have to adapt? Not much, it seems. And when the audience didn’t seem to get it, he would embroider or let it go as something that didn’t work on this continent.

Sadly for those who’ve been slow to book a seat, all performances are sold out. But for those lucky enough to attend one of his shows, it’s a scream.

Eddie Izzard: Durban at the ICC on Saturday night. All proceeds are earmarked for Nelson Mandela’s 46664 Aids charity.

Written by Momo in: Tour Reviews |

Comedy review: Eddie Izzard at Nokia Theatre

[from the LA Times.com]


The iPad was finally unveiled this week after a frenzy of excitement and speculation. Steve Jobs called the tablet “the best browsing experience you’ve ever had.” But Steve, have you seen Eddie Izzard? The British comedian who thinks different appeared this weekend at the Nokia Theatre, bringing his Google-scale fancy and nanosecond timing to talk about, as he put it, “everything that ever happened … with gaps.”

The buzz on his Stripped Too tour is that Izzard appears sans usual skirt and high heels. But the charismatic performer’s new look — a black tailcoat lined in red satin, black shirt, Levi’s and black footwear of a manly variety — didn’t prove a drag. He’s still applying eyeliner and a deadpan comic logic to dress down the world’s absurdities.

Besides running in charity marathons (27 miles a day, six days a week, for 51 days), Eddie’s latest passion is Wikipedia. For Izzard, nothing is as much fun as clicking on “one of those blue lines” and being transported to a new page with yet more information. (Of course, Eddie is the Original Hyperlink—it’s just that technology has finally caught up with him.)

“Wiki” refers to an easily edited, collaborative website; the word was coined by programmer Ward Cunningham, from the Hawaiian, meaning “quick quick.” And that’s the tenor of the evening, as Eddie speeds through a two-and-a-half hour history lesson. Call it stand-up disambiguation. (The set, with its massive receding panels, on which various ancient languages were projected, suggested an ancient temple. High on one wall, an animated window revealed a giant eye that appeared and disappeared throughout the show.)

The evening’s leitmotif is God, or the lack of him, or at least a deity with a serious crack habit, who thinks creating dinosaurs who spend 150 million years doing nothing but grunting and eating is good fun.
But there’s plenty of human error on view as well. Eddie’s characters are often the haplessly embedded, trying to keep their cool in a world gone bonkers. We check in at the Battle of Hastings in 1066, where the photojournalists are weavers, frantically at work on the Bayeux Tapestry as the carnage unfolds in front of them (“More red thread!”). There’s the squid writing on Trip Advisor about accommodations on Noah’s Ark (“The minibar is crap”). An ancient Egyptian reporter reads the news in hieroglyphics (“Triangle, boat, three squiggles. Man with dog head, dog with man head, fish with gun…”).

If Izzard occasionally takes an overextended detour into an idea, consider it down time to reboot your brain and get ready for the next neural assault. Besides, the comic’s biggest problem now is how much his fans adore him. There’s something downright reassuring (sorry, Eddie) about his signature dashes back and forth across the stage: part ringmaster, part wicked little boy delighted to show mum his latest naughty thingy. (Memo to Guy Ritchie: Izzard belongs in your “Sherlock Holmes” sequel, doing something genuinely scary.)

Maybe Eddie shouldn’t worry too much about God. Droll, assured and ever iconoclastic, Izzard creates his own universe and invites us in, all the while tracking our reactions to his riffs. Eddie makes us believe we can surf World 2.0 instead of just being swallowed up by it. As search engines go, he makes us feel lucky.

Written by Momo in: Tour Reviews |

Inside the mind of Eddie Izzard: a terribly funny place to be

[from dallasnews.com]

When comedian and actor Eddie Izzard explains early on in a show that what you’re about to see “seems logical in my brain,” take that as a hint that you’re in for a wild ride the next 2 ½ hours.

At Thursday’s American Airlines Center gig, he promised the show would include “everything that’s ever happened, with gaps,” and that turned out to be an amazingly accurate description of the genius-level lunacy that followed.


Written by Momo in: Tour Reviews |

Comedian Eddie Izzard visits United Center, leaves lipstick at home

[from the Depaulia]

It’s hard to imagine the Eddie Izzard that performed on Jan. 8 as the same magenta lipstick-wearing, English-accented transvestite comedian Izzard that took himself seriously and expected everyone else to follow suit. But for British cross-dressing joke factory Eddie Izzard, it a career.

The 47-year-old comedy veteran has ditched the women’s apparel as of late (even though he can rock stilettos as well as Kate Moss), but luckily refuses to give up his sharp-witted, intellectual sense of humor. Though the donning of a sequin gown may seem to be Izzard’s X factor, it is his comedic brilliance that has captured the attention of fans worldwide.

Sporting a tie and goatee, Izzard performed the first American stop of his international “Big Intimacy Tour: Stripped Too Friday” Friday Jan. 8 at a the United Center, 1901 W. Madison St. He began the show before a crowd of roughly 6,000 loyal followers explaining that tonight he was going to assess the entire history of the world-with some large gaps.

The history is a characteristic theme of Izzard’s performances. His shows are synonymous with hilarious lessons in past world affairs paying close attention to where and why things went amusingly awry. These untraditional accounts of history are frequently interrupted by fictional skits where Izzard plays several characters from the past hysterically interacting in bold could-be scenarios.

In one crowd favorite Izzard plays a panting Roman messenger desperately failing to overcome the difficulties of the impossible Latin conjugations to warn of an oncoming attack. When asked how many soldiers were coming, the messengers response of “Um, X…VII, um, MC, uhh, VIIV…IX…um, V?” was met with a “Twelve?” Izzard devotees had the arena shaking with laughter.

Throughout the show, Izzard somehow seamlessly squeezed in quips about a jazz quartet of farmyard animals, early journalists hurriedly weaving celebrity gossip into tapestries, the bored and lonely human appendix and speechless giraffes playing charades in order to caution an approaching tiger.

The show was fast-paced and a shade below being too smart, if your attention drifted for even a second to readjust your coat, good luck in quickly catching back up. Though the show is seldom directly political, it doesn’t take much to identify Izzard as being undeniably left-leaning and socially progressive. Early in the show he doubts the existence of God and proclaims his trust in people, and in Wikipedia.

Eddie Izzard’s performance was enlightening, daring, intellectual, ambitious and, as any comic should be, funny. It takes quite a man to get a crowd roaring over a joke about ancient military commander Hannibal, but Mr. Izzard did. Four inch Jimmy Choos or not, Eddie Izzard succeeds.

Written by Momo in: Tour Reviews |

Review: Eddie Izzard at the United Center

[from chicagotribune.com]

Despite all the messages out there to the contrary, smarts sell. Exhibit A in this regard is that savvy comedic primate Eddie Izzard, whose international comedy tour is based primarily on the words of God, Moses and Wikipedia, and who concludes that the last named is the most logical and trustworthy.

That routine was on view Friday night at the United Center, on its way to Madison Square Garden. Yes, that once-outre U.K. transvestite has risen all the way to arenas.

It wouldn’t surprise me in the least if Izzard, whose ambition has always been palpable, right from when I first saw him a dozen years ago, ends up doing politics. His show is essentially a deconstruction of religion (he takes on Noah’s ark, the burning bush, the uselessness of our unintelligently designed appendix), but it has the same earnest morality as books by Richard Dawkins or Christopher Hitchens. Few other comics end their show with, in essence, a new admonition for the audience to go out and do good secular works. Izzard pulls that off. Brilliantly.

Even when he came out on stage wearing a dress — he’s ditched that now — Izzard has always taken himself very seriously. The roughly 6,000 people who showed up this weekend at the United Center could almost have fit in the Chicago Theatre (which is where I, for one, would have preferred to see Izzard’s solo stand-up show, HD screens or no HD screens). But Izzard clearly likes commanding an arena, his Twitter feeds writ large — for all to read.

I think there are some traps for the new globalized, techno-savvy Izzard. His show this weekend contained much of the same material as his 2008 stand at the Chicago Theatre, and that kind of repetition is pushing your luck in a town long supportive of his work. He also is a brilliant improviser, and I detect less of a willingness these days to react to his immediate environment. Izzard’s counter-cultural insouciance seems more subdued than when we played smaller venues. But those of us who fall for an artist in the early days invariably squawk when that artist goes mainstream. Perhaps we’re best ignored.

Izzard is a force with which to be reckoned. His rise is fundamentally cheering, not least because his material is rich, savvy and, at its best, still quite deliciously idiosyncratic. How many other comics wax lyrical on the Bayeux Tapestry? Look it up on Wikipedia.

In many ways, Izzard is a Python (or a post-Python) with greater ambition and optimism. At one point Friday, he announced his envy of the American dream and his intention to promote one for cynical Europeans. He’s still a cheeky ironist, but on that dream thing, he wasn’t joking.

Written by Momo in: Tour Reviews |

Eddie Izzard delivers smart show at Fox

[from the Stltoday.com]

It isn’t just any comedian who would attempt to wring comedy out of Carthaginian warrior Hannibal’s crossing of the Alps, but Eddie Izzard managed to do so during his show at the Fox Theatre Saturday Night.

The British comedian wasn’t the only one flashing some serious erudition, though. When Izzard got stuck on the name of Hannibal’s father, a member of the audience was able to supply it, pronto.

For those of you scoring at home, it’s Hamilcar.

History is Izzard’s primary topic on his “Stripped Too: The Big Intimacy Tour.” Or as he puts it, his act covers “everything that’s happened in the history of the world … with a few gaps.”

For two hours, Izzard rolled out his unique take on how things came to be and where they all went hilariously wrong. From the Stone Age to the age of Wikipedia, no topic that Izzard reached for was out of his grasp.

Many of his best routines didn’t rely on language at all, but rather his gift for physical comedy, facial expressions and wordless grunts. One involved a velociraptor – clever enough to use a door handle in “Jurassic Park,” recall – driving a car and getting a traffic ticket.

Izzard noted that mankind’s evolution from hunter/gatherer tribes to farmers was “a step up on the civilization scale, but a step down on the sexiness scale.” There aren’t many movies made about farming, he said, imagining the slogan for “Bruce Willis’ ‘Farm Hard III’: This time, it’s arable.”

He riffed on various Bible stories, including Noah and the flood, claiming some details may be fudged a bit. “Did he put two of everything on the boat?” Izzard asked. “No. How do I know? Try it.”

Other parts of the show were more surreal. He imagined a group of barnyard animals reborn as a jazz combo and later spoke in the voice of a human appendix, disappointed over having nothing to do.

His most astonishing routine found him deconstructing the Latin language and getting constant laughs while speaking for several minutes using nothing but real and fake Latin phrases, with a little German and a few English obscenities mixed in.

It was smart, daring stuff, but Izzard’s audience was equally smart and ready for anything he threw at it.

Written by Momo in: Tour Reviews |

Eccentric Eddie Izzard wows Belfast audience

[from the Belfast Telegraph]

Unusually for Eddie Izzard (47), he was dressed in sober jeans and shirt, only his silk lined, tailed dinner jacket and understated make-up giving indications of his eccentricity.

But it is these quirks which make Izzard stand out and his theme for the night was world history. Jazz chickens, medieval weavers, Wikipedia and tales of his five years as a child in Bangor, Co Down, jump wildly off on tangents which seemingly make no sense, but with Izzard’s coaxing all becomes clear.

Other comics do surreal, conversational comedy, but no-one does it quite this good. Izzard’s quirky world view seems partially influenced by his nomadic childhood which saw the family flit from Yemen, where he was born, to Bangor, Wales and Yorkshire.

Along the way he developed a penchant for big girls’ blouses.

And this is perhaps Izzard’s greatest achievement. Single handedly he makes the outsider acceptable.

To the Odyssey crowd, Izzard can do no wrong.

Read more: http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/entertainment/news/eccentric-eddie-izzard-wows-belfast-audience-14596786.html#ixzz0ZgBTkHMU

Written by Momo in: Tour Reviews |

Eddie Izzard, The 02, London

[from the Independent]


It’s six years since Eddie Izzard’s last full national tour. At his peak, his tours were never more than three years apart so it is a testimony to his following that this prolonged hiatus has not prevented him from stepping out as a stadium comic. In fact, in line with the burgeoning popularity of comedy, quite the reverse has happened and next month, Izzard is to become only the fourth comedian to play the monolithic Madison Square Garden in New York, the other three being Americans, Chris Rock, Andrew “Dice” Clay and Dane Cook.

In New York, Izzard’s show is billed as The Big Intimacy Tour: Stripped Too, a concept that the comedian admits he has tried to sell to critics who have pointed out that playing cavernous venues takes away from the intimacy of his warm ramblings. Certainly the most marked development of this show from its West End run last year is that the venue and the amplification have made an impact on the coherence, rather like a super-woofer might do to a song as it pumps out from a car.

Of course Izzard is all about woofers, barkers, growlers and just about any other animal noise you can think of. He is a kind of Doctor Dolittle, giving voice to a cast of animals. The man who gave us dogs who talk back to human owners when they appear to have dropped their stick, tonight brought his audience raptors stopped for speeding, jazz chickens and squids unhappy at the level of towel provision on Noah’s Ark.

The debunking of the Ark (a theme echoed in Ricky Gervais’ show and a long-standing comedy piñata) is part of the atheistic undertone to the show, again more prevalent in the West End outing and here diluted by extended mimes and soundscapes, including a Roman soldier gleefully but protractedly advancing on his Greek enemy along a phalanx that pierces through the middle of his body.

Despite having the backdrop of talking about “everything that ever happened” it seems that Izzard’s surrealism is even more superficial than it has been hitherto. The comedy doodles are gentle and elicit pools of laughter and applause that ebb and flow in the vast ocean-like room, with Izzard, dressed in jeans, a striped shirt and a ringmaster’s jacket, stroking rather than stoking his audience.

Slight though much of Stripped is, it is consistent. When Izzard’s vagueness grapples with the ludicrousness of perceived wisdoms and formalities he’s at his best. Taking on the endless agreements that are required to be made with iTunes and other online services he suggests that the customer would agree to be called “Mr Bingo” just so long as he could get to the goods more quickly. Elsewhere this contrast is used against opera that he describes as “rich people watching large people being shaken by small people” and that occasionally operatic verse could do with a “doing word”.

Ironically, of course, while Izzard may consider opera lofty, he has no small ambition himself when it comes to playing on the big stages of life, be that chasing a Hollywood career, a political career, completing 43 marathons in 51 days or gigging across the globe, occasionally in other languages. It was recently pointed out that he appears to want to be a “world comedian” – and the all-encompassing theme of Stripped and its reliance on physicality certainly point in that direction.

All this grandstanding may arguably lead to a dumbing-down of content and a reliance on some old tricks. In the case of the latter, for example, he imagines tonight how God’s voice might sound if he did exist, a routine very reminiscent of a past one about the gap between perception and supposed reality in the case of the Romans.

Still, there is no doubt that the themes of Stripped are epic, even if the show itself is not a blockbuster.

Written by Momo in: Tour Reviews |

Eddie Izzard has a good run

[from the Evening Standard]

EDDIE-IZZARDIt was no surprise that the biggest roar Eddie Izzard got last night was when he mentioned his “run” earlier this year. It takes gargantuan modesty to call 43 marathons in 51 days a “run”. And then the tailcoated comedian explained how he did it. He imagined he was being constantly chased by a bear.

The same vivid imagination powers Stripped, a supersized arena version of the theatrical set premiered last year. Izzard’s themes are evolution, religion and ancient history — nothing modest there — and he effortlessly imposes his exquisite Eddie the-eccentric perspective on things: squids use their ink to write diaries, elephant trunks wrap around necks like scarves and chickens play jazz.

Some of his topics have unexpectedly become common currency on the circuit recently. His deconstruction of Noah’s Ark — the lions would have eaten everything before it set sail — is very similar to a current Ricky Gervais routine.

His discussion of the non-existence of an omnicient diety — “if there is a God surely he would have flicked Hitler’s head off” — is positively de rigueur in post-Richard Dawkins circles.

Yet Izzard has such a wonderfully idiosyncratic style, all mimes, grimaces and umming, that he makes even familiar observations about slothful cats and energetic dogs feel fresh. And elsewhere it is exciting to see a mainstream star push intellectual boundaries. It is not every day you get gags about the battle of Thermopylae or hear the suggestion that the Bayeaux tapestry’s creators were the world’s first photojournalists.

While some asides fell flat there were also vintage moments. It is just a shame that they were a little lost in such a cavernous venue. It is fantastic to see stand-up becoming this popular but I am still not entirely convinced that it works in such a big space. Even eyes in plum position were drawn to the giant video screens and those at the back might as well have been watching the recently-released DVD version.

Of course, it is churlish to blame this aspiring politician and film star for being so popular. If he was not so good at comedy he could keep playing smaller theatres. But never mind running marathons, with his devoted fanbase he’d have to do a marathon run in the West End to satisfy everyone.

Written by Momo in: Tour Reviews |

Eddie Izzard: Stripped – Windsor Hall, BIC

[from bournemouthecho.co.uk]

AFTER running 43 marathons in 51 days, a 150-minute show must seem like a gentle stroll for the perma-breathless Eddie Izzard as he brought his first UK tour for six years to Bournemouth on Sunday.

In an effort to disprove the existence of God, Stripped finds Eddie taking a characteristic ramble through, well, everything that has happened since the dawn of time.

There’s a raptor in a porkpie hat with a penchant for driving too fast, Nazis with choc ices, the jazz chicken, a dog kneading a dough disguise, beekeepers and astronauts with tortoise-slow pulses, God with an alphabet of sons (including G-sus, obviously, but also the playful T-sus and P-sus who delivers to your door). It’s a wiki-world in which frog is an anagram of toad, the news is in hieroglyphics, Romans transport ducks, badgers can be choosers, Darwin and Dickens live a few doors apart on Dictionary Lane and Moses is making it up as he goes along.

Izzard’s random thoughts seem to appear almost as dyslexic ad-libs to the fine thread that runs through the show – some work, some don’t, but he’s the absolute master of his particular craft and even the silliest wordplay adds to the experience.

Hollywood stardom, a hit TV drama, good deeds and ceaseless support of the Labour Party would have left an indelible mark on any other comedian returning to their day job, but Stripped is vintage Eddie Izzard – gleefully teaming with life in all its absurd detail.

Written by Momo in: Tour Reviews |


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