Eddie Izzard: Stripped @ SECC

[from The Skinny]

Eddie Izzard has entered the 21st century. As we walk into the stadium at the SECC, giant screens feed live Twitter messages to the crowd, who are mostly posting up their favourite classic lines. Within seconds of coming on stage, he is Wikipedia-ing eggnog from his iPhone, leading into some of the strongest material of the show, about internet updates and iTunes.

To say the audience love him would be an understatement beyond measure. It’s a bizarre role reversal from the usual attention-craving stand up, as the 8,000 strong audience hang on Izzard’s every word. When he remarks on applause coming only from one side of the audience, the other side clap twice as hard. This must be a bizarre experience and it’s little wonder that this gives him a tendency to self-refer, as the laughter of recognition resounds around the stadium. He really doesn’t need resort to this, though. Adoring and unconditional support like this should give him the freedom to experiment. Recurring characters and themes are all very well (Steve, Jeff and Noah’s Ark all make reappearances to new and great effect) but other elements are appreciated only because they are so familiar. Overall this gives the show a feel to match the music as we walked in – classic rock and The Beatles – warm, comfortable, and very good, but not boundary pushing or genre-shaping. Perhaps that’s the effect of spending half his year in America, where the new, more political, elements that enter his show are risky and do stand out: the show has an overarching atheist theme, setting out to prove the non-existence of God. Controversial in the US, maybe, where he has lately been gigging, but in Britain it’s not really testing the limits.

It’s easy to criticise your heroes, though, and it has to be said that essentially, Izzard is still brilliant and still a leader in the field of surrealist but friendly comedy. He still has material that repeats on you for days and yet is mysteriously unquotable; it’s not what he says, it’s how he says it. Armed with a brand new cheeky grin to go with an overall older, more mature feel about him, he retains a brilliant clown-like physicality and can attract complete buy-in merely from impersonating a coughing giraffe. He is obviously having as wonderful a time as we are and despite the massive crowd, the gig feels intimate, like he really is doing a special and unique show just for us.

Personally, I found the atheist theme confusing as I have had the solid conviction since I was a child that Eddie Izzard is God. Tonight he proved not his non-existence, but perhaps his fallibility; showing that he is after all, 43-marathon runner and international acting, producing and comedy superstar aside, still human.

But humans, as he himself decrees in tonight’s show, are pretty damned amazing.

Written by Momo in: Tour Reviews |

Review: Eddie Izzard live


SOME comics crack great jokes, but few create a style which becomes so imitated that it becomes mainstream. But such has been the success of Eddie Izzard’s rambling, whimsical monologues, that he has effortlessly conquered America having first spent years charming the pants of audiences in the UK.

So it is no surprise to see the size of the audience which packs an arena more usually used by rock bands, or the warmth of his reception.

Standing alone on a stage, with shirt, jeans and what appears like a ringmaster’s jacket favoured over something more usually found in a woman’s wardrobe, his patter is predictably relaxed and familiar. Themes recur, as he takes us through a journey through time. Dismissing an omnipotent god – or more particularly slavish followers of a bible written by man – he begins when dinosaurs ruled the earth, painting a typically Izzardesque scenario of a church service with a tyrannosaurs rex pastor reading the sermon. His historical timeline rushes us through ancient Greece and Egypt, with a rattle through the complexity of Latin (another familiar theme), before considering the Bayeux Tapestry and making a convincing argument that weavers were clearly the photo journalists of their time.

The internet is acclaimed and dismissed, and Hannibal and the elephants once again finds a place in his routine, before the ten commandments are considered – coveting a neighbour’s ox attracting particularly nonplussed speculation.

Other characteristically random images include feral cows, good sharks responsibly caring for a lost child, and farmyard animals forming a cool jazz band.

He still has the touch for lines which you suspect will follow lines such as ‘Cake or Death’ into popular parlance – his confident delivery is such that for a few minutes” badgers can’t be choosers” seems an entirely plausible consideration.

Cardiff clearly holds him in reverence, and he departs with a (very brief) nod to his time spent growing up in Skewen. Still reeling from his idiosyncratic flights of fancy, for a fleeting moment we enjoy the notion that this still very special talent is as one of ours.

Written by Momo in: Tour Reviews |

Eddie Izzard: Stripped, Newcastle Metro Radio Arena


AS a one time devotee of the surreal ramblings of the self-confessed “action transvestite”, it pains me to say that Eddie Izzard’s latest live show in a long time did not leave me rolling in the aisles.

I discovered him through a friend on a VHS cassette back in the Nineties in my student digs, and became a massive fan of his weird disjointed sets that featured talking squirrels and a groovy world view.

Friends would quote lines from his shows verbatim to the hilarity of others and, no doubt, the tedium of many others nearby.

But since then, we have gone our separate ways; he did Hollywood films and US telly, and I watched other stand-ups.

Maybe the problem is that he thinks we can just pick up where we left off.

But I’m now over the complexity of Latin grammar, nonsensical world history and badgers with guns filled with jam.

Okay, I’ll admit some of his mimes are still works of genius and conjure up delightfully funny images. Photojournalists of their days stitching the battle of Hastings in the Bayeux Tapestry cracked me up.

But what did it for me was T-shirts in the foyer with “I’m covered in bees” slogans on, exploiting an old routine about how terrified beekeepers must feel when they realise what it is they actually do for a living.

Such blatant mainstream commercialism.

There are some charming moments in Stripped that explores the existence of God, the history of man and is pure Izzard in the sense that he still has that magic of yore.

But it appears to have dated very badly and you get the impression it is nothing you have not already seen before.

Written by Momo in: Tour Reviews |

REVIEW: Eddie Izzard at the ECHO arena

[from Liverpool Echo]

EDDIE Izzard is nothing if not ambitious.

Not only does his show, Stripped, attempt to cover history since the world began thousands of millions of years ago, but he’s also now performed it to thousands, maybe millions across the globe.

You can add another few thousand in Liverpool over the weekend, with the arena boasting an all but full house on Saturday alone.

They gave Izzard a pop star welcome.

And he responded with a two-hour stream of consciousness which took the audience if not on the road to Damascus then at least on a journey of, at times, weird and wonderful discovery.

I make the Biblical allusion because the Middle East-born Izzard is clear about one thing – he doesn’t believe in God.

As he argued persuasively: if there was a God “surely he’d have flicked Hitler’s head off.”

What Izzard does believe in is do to others as you would be done by. Oh, and Wikipedia.

Moving restlessly around the large stage in his jeans and showman’s tailcoat, the Izzard stream of consciousness leapt from computers to dinosaurs to the creator of the Bayeaux tapestry (the front line photo-journalists of the Battle of Hastings) to feral cows and Spartan ninja sheep.

Then there are Moses’ 10 commandments which included “don’t put your knees up on the hot part of a tractor”.

Sometimes you just have to be there.

Izzard’s style of surreal humour is rather like that of a small boy giddy on E numbers and showing off in front of an audience of adults. He’s forever in search of approval but the naughty side means he can’t help spiralling off on increasingly madcap flights of fancy.

It’s an approach that can lead to extremely clever wordplay and images – such as his inspired definition of opera as “rich people watching large people being shaken by small people”.

But it also makes his show uneven, and he relies too much on mugging mime and (eventually) laboured repetition of imagery which gets a laugh – dogs kneading bread dough for example – to carry him on to the next moment of improvised inspiration.

Luckily for Izzard fans there were still plenty of those to enjoy.

Written by Momo in: Tour Reviews |

COMEDY REVIEW: Eddie Izzard, Echo Arena Liverpool

[from Liverpool Daily Post]

IT’S a strange vision of history that Eddie Izzard evokes from his place on a stage set of fake stone walls inscribed with hieroglyphics, Arabic and Ancient Greek.

In a show that aims to cover “everything that happened in this world” he takes a helter skelter of a journey from the creation of the Earth to the time of Moses, not forgetting the boring but very long bit in the middle when there were no people.

Moses struggles with his Commandments (3. Thou shalt not brush your teeth with cream for your ears), Noah makes a mistake with his two by twos and only the tigers, lions and a single squirrel survive the Ark, and the Nazis invent Scrabble to be mean to children with dyslexia.

Izzard continues to demonstrate his ability for languages with sketches in Stone Age speak, pidgin Latin and even dinosaur. He swaps Hannibal’s elephants for ostriches, declares the Bayeux tapestry makers the photojournalists of the 11th century and tries to make God disappear in a puff of fuzzy logic.

It’s typical Izzard, with surreal tales, plenty of physical comedy and characters that all come together at the end – on the moon, with a giant squid.

It’s all new material, with a nod to the past – “covered in bees” anyone? – and he’s as energetic and likeable as ever.

The only drawback is that he’s now become so much of an institution that his comedy lacks the factor of surprise. We expect it to be ridiculous and brilliant all at the same time, and it doesn’t disappoint but nor does it really astound.

Still, given that he’s been doing the Stripped show on tour for a year now it’s impressive that it still feels so fresh. And you get the feeling that although he had the entire Echo Arena in his pocket, he would have been happy enough performing just for his own amusement.

Written by Momo in: Tour Reviews |

Review: Eddie Izzard at Newcastle Metro Radio Arena


It’s been more than a year since Eddie Izzard returned to the land of stand-up following a five-year film-making, TV-writing hiatus.

And at the end of last week, his Tyneside fans finally got to see Stripped, the show which hailed his return. His double date with the Metro Radio Arena followed the show’s long run in the US, a residency in the West End and then a bit of a break while Eddie ran 43 marathons in 51 days for Sport Relief (including a rainy day run over the Tyne Bridge in September).

For his latest show, the nation’s favourite action transvestite has put the heels and the skirt on the back burner. This is probably a sensible shoe choice, since the show offers a journey through civilisation from the Stone Age to space travel… touching on lots of what went on in between. In the beginning of the show, Izzard announces he has come to the conclusion that there is no God… and he uses the next two hours to prove it, with the help of a string of animal, historical and even human organ characters, delivered in a succession of his signature – and wonderfully absurd – roleplays.

The recurring yanky squirrel and trumpet-playing chicken, together with a frustrated appendix all deserve special mentions… as does the panic-stricken Giraffe trying to communicate the arrival of a tiger to his mates via the medium of ‘Give Us A Clue’, his take on the stories of Noah and Moses and the Spartan soldier who sacrifices himself on a 20ft Grecian spear and lives to lament. A Latin-laden section also had me laughing my little soccos off.

Oh, how we’d missed him.

Written by Momo in: Tour Reviews |

Eddie Izzard at the Nottingham Arena, review

[from the]

Having devoted the best part of the autumn to undertaking a 1,100 mile jog around the UK – some 43 runs in 51 days – Eddie Izzard would be forgiven for putting his feet up and congratulating himself on his fund-raising good deeds for Sport Relief. But, no, marathon man is already up and about, rambling for Britain in a touring version of Stripped, the stand-up show he premiered last winter in the West End. You might expect to see a few pained hobbles. Yet here he is, bouncing about in a discreetly outlandish combination of jeans, stripey shirt and ringmaster’s black tail-jacket – the puppyish picture of zing and zest.

Erring on the side of modesty, Izzard only briefly alludes to his ordeal. “I did this run recently which was just to lose weight. It was a bit insane,” he concedes, in that drawly, muttery, posh-urchin way of his, before suggesting that we could all do it because our ancestors were forever running back and forth, hunting and gathering, and being chased by bears.

I’m paraphrasing here, of course. Once Izzard, 47, is in full flow, you can only dash after his quicksilver train of imagination, making incomplete notes. The overarching conceit of the evening, underpinned by much mock-erudition, is that there’s no plan in the universe.

We’re given a wilfully idiosyncratic beginner’s guide to creation, evolution, the emergence of civilisation and so on, all of it pointing to one conclusion, which is that we’re on our own, and we just have to make the best of it.

If you can quarrel with Izzard’s underlying faith in human nature to succeed where religion fails (“Don’t believe in God, believe in us”), there’s little disputing that his surrealistic, scattershot musings betray the divinity of comic genius.

Among myriad highlights, there’s his notion (apropos the dullness of farming) of wedging a trumpet on a chicken’s face – to create a “jazz chicken”, the enactment of a Roman soldier deliberately and pretend-delightedly impaling himself on the spear of an advancing Greek phalanx, and his evocation of a giraffe, signalling, by means of charades, the approach of a tiger.

Yes, seeing him in a stadium, his every move video-relayed, can be like watching a giant TV, but the warmth, lust for life and sheer swaggering pizzazz of this eternally boyish jester transcend the sterility of the occasion.

After 25 years of perfecting his burbling personality, Eddie has become entertainment incarnate.

Written by Momo in: Tour Reviews |


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