Catching Up with Eddie Izzard

[from timeoutny.com]

The prolific absurdist Eddie Izzard is accustomed to breaking new ground. On Saturday 16­—hot on the heels of running 43 marathons in 51 days (to benefit the charity Sport Relief) and the premiere on both sides of the pond of the new documentary Believe: The Eddie Izzard Story—he becomes the first British comic to play the arena at Madison Square Garden.

You ran 43 marathons in 51 days?!?
The first three weeks were hell. It was chafing my feet, they were all blistered up and the pain was very intense, but then the weirdest thing was that my feet started healing as I was running. They actually become really hard. Then it’s just endurance and stamina.

What sort of frame of mind does it take to keep going?
You can’t entertain the idea that you can stop at any point, apart from serious injury. Having a TV crew there also helped because it would be very embarrassing after ten days to say, “Well, I can’t do this. I’m sorry, everyone. Pack up and go home.”

You’re used to cameras; were you pleased with Believe?
There’s a thing where certain people will go, “That guy’s a transvestite; I’m not going to go watch his stuff,” and it will get blocked off to that audience. So I thought a documentary could explain things more, dig around and show the stuff going on in my head, who I am and where I come from.

Was watching yourself through other people’s eyes cathartic?
That bit at the end where it explains what seems to be my motivation—that it’s my mother? That came as a shock to me, because I didn’t realize it. It was good to say that and get that out there and know that myself.

You mentioned the transvestism. I saw you get heckled in Vegas at the Comedy Festival.
Right; they were asking, “Why aren’t you wearing a dress?,” which is slightly different. You expect a lot of, “I hear you’re a transvestite. I don’t like that.” But I tend to get, these days, “Why aren’t you wearing a dress?” So I do try and explain that I will go in boy mode and girl mode, and at the moment I’ve been in boy mode. You want to have the freedom that women have of being able to wear whatever they want whenever they want.

Read more: http://newyork.timeout.com/articles/comedy/81945/catching-up-with-eddie-izzard#ixzz0cVDblBkJ

Written by Momo in: Interview |

Eddie Izzard On Music, Transvestitism, And Social Democracy

[from TheQuietus.com]

The New Romantics, pulling, make-up and his future as a Labour MP. All in a days work for Eddie Izzard, Luke Turner discovers…


Written by Momo in: Interview |

Comedian Eddie Izzard to perform in South Africa

[from Artslink.co.za]

Actor and comedian Eddie Izzard will be performing in South Africa for Nelson Mandela’s 46664 campaign from 2 to 6 February.

Eddie Izzard has been hailed as one of the foremost stand-ups of this generation. His latest stand-up show Stripped has broken all box records with sell-out arena shows across the UK, US and Europe. This January Eddie will join an elite group of performers when he becomes the fourth ever comedian to play New York’s prestigious Madison Square Garden.

Now 46664 and Real Concerts are thrilled to welcome Eddie Izzard to South Africa, where he will be performing for five nights, to help raise funds for the ongoing work of the Nelson Mandela charitable organizations.

Performances take place on 2 and 3 February 2010 at The Mandela Stage at the Joburg Theatre in Johannesburg; on 4 and 5 February in Cape Town at the ICC Auditorium 1 and on 6 February at Durban ICC in Hall 1 AB.

February 11 2010 marks the 20th anniversary of Nelson Mandela walking free from his 27 years incarceration. This historic world event was the foundation that brought freedom to a country that was once segregated and full of turmoil. It is because of this hugely significant moment that South Africa is now able to welcome many global, cultural and entertaining events.

Eddie Izzard explains: “I am delighted to have this opportunity to perform in South Africa to help raise funds for Nelson Mandela’s charities. It is because of this iconic world leader, Madiba, that I have the privilege of performing my show to a live audience in what is now a free country and at a very significant time in the country’s history.”

Tim Massey, International Director of 46664 says: “By using the universal language of sport, music and entertainment we can deliver messages of care, prevention and hope to the youth and young adults of the world. This is the first time we will be partnering with comedy and we are delighted and extremely grateful that Eddie accepted our invitation to come and perform in South Africa. We hope this will be the first of many more 46664 comedy events to come.”

For more information please contact Katie Phillips or Shimon Cohen at The PR Office on 020 7284 6969 or e-mail kphillips@theproffice.com / scohen@theproffice.com or Real Concerts: Kim Mari on 082 462 8739 / kim@realsa.co.za

Written by Momo in: Politics & Causes |

Eddie Izzard ready for Garden ‘strip’ show

[from bostonherald.com]

If you’re lucky enough to be one of the 13,000-plus Eddie Izzard fans at the TD Garden tomorrow night, be on your toes!

The British funnyman’s shtick for his “The Big Intimacy Tour: Stripped Too” starts with the beginning of the planet and ends around the Charles Darwin era.

“We’re talking cavemen, Romans, Greeks, you know I can get obsessed about these things,” Izzard told the Track. “Well, there are gaps, obviously, it would take too long to really get into it all.”

Apparently, this material, in which Eddie strips back all that’s gone down in 5,000 years, has won him raves all over Europe and Scandinavia, although the erudite entertainer comes to the conclusion in his stream-of-consciousness comedy that God doesn’t exist.

“So I’ve got a different angle on Noah and the ark,” said the former cross-dressing comic. “I think he existed, and that there was a flood and he built a boat. But no God is involved.”

But don’t start writing to The Pilot. Izzard, who appeared in the Tom Cruise flick “Valkyrie” and starred in the F/X series “The Riches,” reports it’s all for a laugh.

“I like to get people to at least think a bit,” he said, adding that he attracts “socially progressive” audiences.

“They find me wherever I am, but there’s a stronghold of those people in Boston, I have found. But I just played St. Louis the other night and they got it. And I’ve played the Bible Belt and they dug my stuff. People find me.”

One way to find Eddie is on Twitter, where fans followed his 43-mountains-in-51-days run last year – his quest to get into shape – as well as his left-leaning political views.

“I was encouraged to go on Twitter to put my own spin on the news and give my own point of view because the press in Britain is quite right-wing,” he said. “And besides, I plan to run for political office in 10 to 15 years. I have to get involved. I don’t feel we can leave it to the conservative party to run things.”

But what about fame, fortune, and your 1.4 million Tweeps?

“I would have to get rid of my career,” said the smarty-pants showman. “And that’s the tricky old thing because I have worked my backside off to get it.”

Written by Momo in: Interview |

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 |

Eddie Izzard Garage Sale!

Be sure and head over to TERI’S SITE…she’s cleaning house! Teri is giving away some of her massive Eddie collection FREE (you pay shipping). She’s got quite a few jewels, including DVDs, videos, magazines, photos…check it out! She’s giving away a new item almost every day…

Written by Momo in: News |

Izzard Conditions: Cross-dressing, throught-provoking comic storms into Hub

[from bostonherald.com]

Eddie Izzard will hit the stage carefully when he plays TD Garden on Wednesday. No running full tilt for him – he’ll likely be wearing a pair of high heels and, who knows, maybe a cute little red dress with sequins.

The cross-dressing Brit comic has certainly gotten some yuks because of his outfits. But his topics and delivery are what make people think and laugh. Whatever it takes, Izzard, 47, has wanted to entertain since he was 7.

“I saw a play then and was transfixed by this guy who was getting a good reaction from the audience by being funny, and dramatic as well,” Izzard said by phone from a hotel in the Alps. “And I just thought, ‘God, I have got to do this.’ So I started quite actively trying to work my way into things and not being very successful at it for quite a long time.”

Ten years later and failing at drama – but by then under the spell of Benny Hill, Peter Sellers, Spike Milligan and the Monty Python troupe – Izzard opted for comedy.

When he brings his very chatty Big Intimacy Tour Stripped Too to the Garden, Izzard plans to cover a rather wide spectrum of topics.

“What I talk about goes from the beginning of the Earth right up to now,” he said. “I’m talking about everything that’s ever happened – with gaps. With various influence from ‘Monty Python,’ Richard Pryor, Steve Martin, the History Channel and the Discovery Channel.”

And he’s happy to be playing Boston Garden.

“It’s great because I used to play (London’s) Covent Garden, which we call the Garden,” Izzard said. “So I’m going all the way from the Garden to the Garden. It’s quite a journey.”

It’s also quite a journey from his early days as a street performer.

“I realized when I was doing street that I started developing my own voice,” Izzard said. “British people play characters well, but I was watching Americans like Eddie Murphy and Bill Murray sort of playing themselves. So I started developing that in the street. Then I thought I needed to take that indoors and do it as stand-up.”

It was shortly after Izzard turned 30 and did an AIDS benefit that he realized people were saying, “Who is this guy? Where did he come from?” Soon he was playing in clubs and theaters (he’s performed locally at both the Charles Street Playhouse and the Colonial Theatre over the years) and had an HBO special, “Dress to Kill,” in 1999. It was only six years ago that Izzard did his first arena tour.

“I’d done two gigs in arenas before that,” he said. “But I knew the only way to get good at playing arenas was to do something like a hundred of them. If you do a hundred of them, you can’t help but get good at it. Or give it in, shoot yourself in the head, forget it, goodbye.

“The trick is to let the (video) screens do their job,” he added. “Barack Obama proved this. When he had just become president, he was playing to a hundred thousand, and he really didn’t do anything different. He just talked and the screens would carry the vision and the sound. We’ve just got to start using the equipment that rock ’n’ roll has been using for some time.”

Izzard has another trick, too – one he makes use of just in case American audiences aren’t hip enough to, say, British politics.

“I make all my material universal,” he said. “If I wanted to talk about Gordon Brown, I would go into Boston and say, ‘So, the head of our country, that’s the prime minister – he was Tony Blair and now he’s Gordon Brown – said this recently.’ And people would get that. I would explain my terms and then they’d get the hang of it.

“But I tend to say something like, ‘What were the Romans doing? The Greeks did this, or the cavemen did that.’ And people in Boston and New Zealand and Iceland and Paris would get that, if they’re socially progressive audiences. If they’re a bunch of Nazis, they’re really not gonna like my show.”

Written by Momo in: Interview |

Eddie Izzard gets bigger and bigger and …

[from the Chicago Tribune]

Back in 1998, I went to the tiny Westbeth Arts Center in downtown New York to see a hilarious little show called “Dressed to Kill.” It featured a mostly unknown English comedian named Eddie Izzard, who maintained he “fancied girls” (not boys), but whose calling card was a love of dressing up in sparkly women’s clothing.

The audience was dominated by besuited Britishers, many clearly letting off steam from their day on Wall Street. Izzard may have been a part-time transvestite, but he was both sweet and safe for international bankers. And, as I wrote at the time, there is a noble tradition of “Anglo showbiz curiosities.”

Well, Izzard is no longer a curiosity. He is a major international star with a mainstream following, and a very serious acting career. (He is currently attracting U.K. attention for his role in a new TV version of “The Day of the Triffids.”) On Thursday, Izzard plays solo in Chicago.

At the United Center.

Izzard’s 12-year rise can be charted through his appearances in Chicago. Following that Westbeth show, he got some valuable exposure on HBO. By 2000, he had a small U.S. tour for a new show called “Circle,” with a key Chicago appearance at the Royal George Theatre. His audience was still dominated by Europeans, but stateside hipsters were clued in. The show was hilarious. And the two-week gig sold out.

Already, Izzard was revealing himself to be a shrewd fellow. He was (and is) essentially a stand-up comic with a partly improvised act. But he has never played bars or comedy clubs. He has always played theaters. With sets and costumes. Where people shut up and listen.

In Chicago, the venues became bigger and bigger.

By 2003, Izzard was playing the Shubert Theatre (now the Bank of America Theatre), with Lisa Marie Presley sitting in the front row. “Izzard,” I wrote in the Tribune, after praising his John Cleese-like peacock strut, Pythonesque absurdist digressions, Jackie Mason twitter and Musical Hall love of verbiage, “maintains a popular Web log.” Once again, he was an early adopter.

By 2008, Mr. Internet was at the Chicago Theatre, riding the U.S. success of his TV dramedy “The Riches” (and the popularity of the DVDs and downloads of his earlier live shows).

The sparkly dresses were gone. Much of the material was about God and the European Union. “Eddie Izzard: Stripped” was intended to imply seriousness rather than nudity.

But, despite that progression of larger and larger venues, the gig at the United Center is still highly unusual. Solo performers of the non-singing kind rarely play arenas. Izzard is unfazed.

“I really feel like we are raising the bar for stand-up comedians,” he said in a post-Christmas interview from his temporary residence in the Alps. “Rock ‘n’ roll acts never worry about playing stadiums. The Beatles played Shea Stadium even in the early days. I think we stand-ups have to prove we can do it. We can. As long as we don’t chuck out rubbish.”

Izzard has rarely chucked out rubbish — his material has always been intellectual. But his longtime fans in Chicago might reasonably be concerned that their man won’t be the same in such a colossal hall.

“The trick I’ve learned is to play the arenas like you are actually playing a 1,000-seater,” he says. “You have to have really good screens and really good sound. It’s like when Barack Obama spoke to 100,000 people. I’m calling this ‘The Big Intimacy Tour.’ ”

As Izzard points out, very few of his comedic peers want to play joints like the United Center. The likes of Chris Rock and Jerry Seinfeld have backed off huge venues in favor of midsize theaters. Only Dane Cook is, like Izzard, still trying to make ’em laugh live by the tens of thousands. Clearly, Izzard sees it as a natural progression.

So what’s next for Izzard in Chicago? Soldier Field?

He laughs at that. “I still do muck about, you know?”

Written by Momo in: Interview |

British comic faces the world with an American attitude

[from stltoday.com]

So now that Eddie Izzard has gotten famous — he’s starred in films, on Broadway, in the recent FX TV series “The Riches” and in arena stand-up shows — have audiences for the politically active and cross-dressing British comedian become a little self-selective?

“Well, I probably don’t get many Nazis coming to the shows, in that self-policing way that things happen,” Izzard says by phone from the French Alps, where he is enjoying his holiday vacation. “I probably get a more democratic-leaning, socially progressive audience. I don’t get many socially and fiscally conservative people. Or if I do, they probably walk out.”

In fact, he says, he once commissioned a research study that revealed that 50 percent of his audience had never seen him before.

“That means they’re being dragged by the other 50 percent. Either dragged happily, or more like ‘Oh, all right, I’ll come,'” says Izzard, whose “Stripped Too: The Big Intimacy Tour” comes to the Fox Theatre on Saturday night.

Those who do show up wind up seeing an erudite and sometime surreal act — Monty Python’s John Cleese has called Izzard “the lost Python” — that is in large part based on Izzard’s passion for world history.

“There must be a history gene in my family,” he says. “I hated history in school because I couldn’t do the essays, but I’m a sucker for inhaling the information.

“I just thought, no one’s doing history. When I started, I hadn’t yet told people I was a transvestite, and as a white male stand-up, you’re looking for something that will set you apart. I thought, ‘If you do history, you’ll seem clever.’ I thought it was a good place to go.”

By the time he arrived in America, Izzard had donned heavy makeup and glitzy dresses that made him stand out plenty. But it also confused audiences.

“I happened to be a transvestite, and I do comedy,” he says. “People thought, ‘Ah, it’s a drag thing and the drag informs the comedy.’ And it doesn’t, actually. I took a lot of (crap).”

Izzard is driven and determined, from the way he conquered America, simply keeping at it till we gave in — “It’s the Japanese car industry’s way of working,” he quips — to his recent obsession with running marathons. He ran 43 of them in 51 days to raise money for the British charity Sport Relief.

“Long-distance running always seemed like, ‘Why the hell would anyone want to do this?'” Izzard says. “But then I said, ‘OK, I’m going to do this.’ And then Sport Relief came along. I thought they’d be in contact with doctors and people who could tell me whether I’m insane or if I could possibly do it. I met a few experts and doctors who said, ‘Have a go.'”

Izzard also has learned to fly a plane (to conquer his fear of flying) and learned enough languages to occasionally perform his show in French, Russian and German.

“I like to say I’m a British European and I think like an American,” Izzard says. “It’s that out-of-the-box-we-can-do-it-we-can-build-it-let’s-go-to-the-moon thing. A lot of American’s don’t actually do that, but it’s built into your DNA. And obviously, it can go wrong. But I love the idea of it.”

Written by Momo in: Interview |


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