Eddie Izzard earns his gold

[from Ottawa Citizen]

The World According to Eddie Izzard is furnished with its own comedic logic.

It is a linguistic playground where he juggles with words and groups of words.

Occasionally, he meanders aimlessly to a dead end and finds there is nothing either meaningful or funny left to say. Whoops. He mimes the writing of a note to himself on the palm of his hand: “Don’t go there again, Eddie — at least not until you can find a punch line.”

Izzard graced the stage of the National Arts Centre on Friday dressed in jeans and tails — stiletto heels on his feet, extravagant makeup on his face and bright red polish on his nails; a drag queen without the dress, hair and other accoutrement.

The drag/transvestite shtick has served him well, but lately, he has been appearing sans dress — one stiletto in, one stiletto out, perhaps a deliberate weaning process for the segment of his loyal audience who prefer to see him in gowns.

He says repeatedly that he’s a transvestite but like many Englishmen who have made handsome livings dressing up onstage as flamboyant women, he has borrowed from a theatrical tradition that dates back to when Shakespeare was a lad.

He has been deliberately vague about his sexuality, referring to himself as a straight transvestite or male lesbian or a complete boy plus half a girl — it’s all on his Wikipedia page. He is what he is; whatever he is.

Most important, of course, he can be very funny.

Like all skilled and seasoned stand-up comedians, Izzard tethers himself to a theme and floats on a stream of free association.

Sometimes he’s brilliant, buoyant and side-splittingly hilarious; at other times he struggles and sags.

He was trying out some new material.

“That’ll be funny in a couple of days,” he said, after one of his riffs petered out.

When it didn’t work, he did the “note to self” thing, made a joke of it and everybody laughed. A smart safety net to save a wounded gag from death

Izzard’s theme on this short Canadian tour is ‘Eddie’s History of the World’ from start to where we’re at now. As a warm-up he digs weakly at the Royal Family — an easy target in the colonies — and moves on to God before delving into creationism and Darwinism.

He got into his stride and seemed more comfortable after the intermission. He was at his funniest and smartest during a 15-minute or so ramble about the evolution of language, replete with pidgin Latin –pidgin everything really.

The capacity crowd greeted him with a rapturous standing ovation and bid him farewell with equal enthusiasm.

That’s gold for any performer and Eddie’s earned it.

Written by Momo in: Tour Reviews |

Eddie Izzard rocks the Queen


I can’t say I’ve ever been to a performance where the standing ovation happened at the beginning of the show before a single word had been uttered, but that’s exactly what happened Friday night when Eddie Izzard stepped onto the stage at the Queen Elizabeth theatre. Now that’s what I call an entrance.

His reputation obviously precedes him and Mr. Izzard does not disappoint.

Strutting onto the stage in red satin lined tails and stilettos for his newest show Stripped, he was in top form, his natural wit and intelligence undeniable.

The crowd roared as Mr. Izzard crossed the stage telling his version of the history of evolution.

His timing was impeccable, bantering with the audience as he moved through his routine, some of it rehearsed, some not, all the while intertwining the stories as he went along.

It wasn’t until I turned to my left to catch my date sliding down his seat in a fit of laughter that I noticed the audience around us. People leaning forward in their seats, hanging on every word, hankies dabbing at their eyes, the whole room was alive with laughter.

It was a remarkable night. The amount of joy this one man was giving all these people was tantamount to his talent and expertise, and a lesson to anyone wishing to unite an entire group of people regardless of age, sex, race, or religion.

Humour is an extraordinary gift. A gift that can bring a room of strangers together in an instance and hold it there ’til it pees its pants before it’ll miss a word it has to say.

Funny, we could change the world with that.

Written by Momo in: Tour Reviews |

Eddie Nominated for VH1 “Do Something Awards”

[thanks Jean]

“Glee” star Jane Lynch has been tapped to host the 2010 Do Something Awards for VH1.The awards honor five nominees for their commitment to social change.

Each nominee is honored for their commitment to service with a community grant of $10,000. Of these five nominees, a grand prize winner will receive a $100,000 grant for their cause during the live broadcast from the Hollywood Palladium in Los Angeles. also announced the 2010 celebrity categories, honoring the entertainment industry for its continued dedication to activism and charity projects. All voting for these categories, including influential celebrities, musicians, comedians, and athletes, inspiring films and television shows, and social media initiatives can be done by the public at

The 2010 Do Something Awards air live on VH1 July 19 at 9 p.m. ET.

• Eddie Izzard
• Ellen Degeneres
• Ben Stiller
• Stephen Colbert
• Kathy Griffin


Written by Momo in: News,Politics & Causes |

Eddie Izzard proves there’s method in his comic madness

[from the Vancouver Sun]

Eddie Izzard is many things: actor, marathon runner, charity fund-raiser and, yes, self-proclaimed transvestite.

He’s also a first-rate comedian. Now more than halfway through the Canadian leg of his Stripped Tour — he’s not in drag for this one — Izzard brought his sharp brand of comedy to Vancouver Friday night for the first of two shows at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre.

The British comic isn’t everybody’s cup of tea. Often absurd and tangential, Izzard’s stream-of-consciousness approach doesn’t follow a traditional comic trajectory. It’s observational, to be sure, but it’s far removed from the material of an everyman’s comic such as Jerry Seinfeld or the oft-hilarious and occasionally offensive Chris Rock.

Izzard instead takes his audience on a nonsensical adventure where the journey is the destination. It’s easy to get lost in his mumbled minefield, which offers plenty of explosive material along the way.

Wearing a black tuxedo jacket with tails, black T-shirt and jeans– with a healthy dose of eyeshadow on his heavily made-up face — Izzard localized things immediately with a quip about Captain Vancouver, “Canada’s first superhero.”

Religion provided a rather large target for Izzard in the early proceedings. It’s not mean-spirited stuff, though; Izzard prefers to comment on things like gods living up in the clouds, where visibility is poor. “Who would live there?” he asked rhetorically.

There’s no fog when it comes to his overall view on religion, though his description of himself as a “spiritual atheist” might confound some in the holier set.

Where Izzard shines, though, is in his ability to make a polished act seem completely spontaneous in its delivery, even pretending to get lost occasionally. He’s so good at it, in fact, that when he wondered aloud where he was, a few folks in the audience felt compelled to shout out verbal cues to help jog his memory. “Thank you, script supervisor,” he said after one gentleman offered some unwanted assistance.

All this, of course, just provided more laughs.

Some of Izzard’s material veers into the realm of Monty Python. Quite silly, really. “Why weren’t there any dinosaur poets?” got a good laugh, though often it seems to be his frenetic delivery that drives the crowd’s positive reaction to the jokes.

But that’s comedy, isn’t it? “Ten per cent content, 90 per cent yelling,” Seinfeld told talk-show host Jimmy Fallon this week, the point being that the method is often as important as the madness behind it.

Izzard’s method is madness, of course, but there’s certainly a good dose of incisive intelligence in the mix.

Some jokes are too long, which can diminish the payoff: His Noah’s Ark bit felt like it floated aimlessly for 40 days and 40 nights.

Then again, comedy is a subjective enterprise. Izzard is rarely gutwrenchingly funny, but he’s genuinely entertaining to watch.

Although, to be perfectly honest, he’s sexier in heels.

Written by Momo in: Tour,Tour Reviews |

Listen closely to Izzard’s clever patter and you’ll enjoy great payoffs


What: Eddie Izzard

Where: Royal Theatre

When: Last night

Rating: **** 1/2 stars (out of five)

Seconds after stepping on the Royal Theatre’s stage, Eddie Izzard announced he was confounded by our city’s name.

The popular British comedian had done usual “hello Victoria” greeting before stopping himself. “I shouted out the name of a queen from the 1800s,” he said slyly. “ That’s a bit weird.”

The Canadian leg of Izzard’s Stripped tour brought him here after stops in Toronto, Winnipeg, Regina and Calgary (tonight he embarks on a two-night stint at Vancouver’s Queen Elizabeth Theatre). As promised the comic, a self-proclaimed transvestite, was in “boy mode.” So… no dress. Still, for Izzard, dressing as a guy apparently means accessorizing ones tailcoat and jeans with high heels, eye-shadow and rouge.

For the first hour, Izzard — one of the globe’s sharpest comics — talked about God and the evolution of religion. This may not sound a laugh riot; and to be sure, one had to pay close attention to his clever patter. Yet payoffs were there in abundance.

Much of Izzard’s shtick revolved around the inherent absurdities of Christian lore. For instance, how could someone like God tolerant a nasty chap like Adolph Hitler?

“If there was a God, he would have flipped Hitler’s head off,” Izzard said. He then did a funny little routine about der Führer’s troops who, pleased about their leader’s ability to pop off his noggin, chant “Nazis… number one!”

What makes Izzard (who’s also a TV and film actor) different from other stand-up comics is the dizzying speed of his wit, his utter comfortableness on stage and, above all, his deliciously-honed sense of the absurd. The latter somehow seems a distinctly British sensibility — Izzard eschews the raw brashness of a Chris Rock, for instance, in favour of that loopy sense of surreal embraced by Monty Python.

Throughout, there’s a gentleness to what he does. One observer has called this approach “the velvet razor.” Put another way, the equally brilliant Billy Connolly slaps us on the back like a high-IQ pub companion on an absolute roll. Izzard is also energetic, yet there’s more of an eye-winking, subtle sense of style to his delivery; he’s like the Oxford undergrad shifting into high gear at a martini party.

Last night’s show included a potted history of the world, based on information Izzard cheerfully admitted he’d culled from Google and DVDs. Take dinosaurs roaming the earth for 200 million years. What sort of deity would allow this? “That’s got to be God on crack,” Izzard declared.

When following his idiosyncratic logic threatened to become wearisome, Izzard took care to pepper his act with crowd-pleasing bits. We were, for instance, treated to an impersonation of self-important dinosaur poets. Then he pretended to be a Raptor pulled over for speeding.

Later, Izzard pondered the precise moment when humans officially entered the Stone Age. He imitated a prehistoric man who, encountering a bison stuck in a swamp, suddenly decides to bonk his prey with a stone.

“Why have I never thought of this before? It’s so f—ing obvious,” Izzard said with a grin.

(Note: Due to deadline restraints, the reviewer left before the two-hour-plus performance ended.)

Written by Momo in: Tour,Tour Reviews |

The surreal life


There’s something quite fetching about Eddie Izzard when he applies ruby-red lipstick, mascara and black eyeliner and wears hosiery, sequins and pumps.

Just don’t call him a drag queen.

“It’s not drag!” Izzard says. “It’s a costume! For me, I’m just wearing a dress. Women don’t say, ‘I’m wearing drag today.'”

Then, the British comedian John Cleese once dubbed the “Lost Python” and who mainstream American audiences think is just a little bit queer said, “Whether you are gay, bisexual, trans – you don’t choose it. Me, I’m a straight girl-boy. I realized the girly thing when I was four years old. And that’s my gift.”

Izzard may be famed for his transvestism on and off the stage, but you won’t find him dolled up and working the boards on his current month-long cross-Canada Stripped Too tour that brings the stream-of-consciousness surrealist to Montreal next week.

“This tour is all about going back to basics,” Izzard says. “I’m not playing Madison Square Garden.”

And thank God for that. But if you still really want to see Izzard on a video screen, then check out his acting chops in the FX television series The Riches (in which he and Minnie Driver head a travelling family of con artists and thieves) or in such big-budget Hollywood flicks as Ocean’s Twelve and Ocean’s Thirteen.

Personally, with his mug, I always thought Izzard looked more like a manager for a ’60s British rock group, kind of like an Andrew Loog Oldham, or Runaways’ svengali Kim Fowley.
Of course, Izzard’s played one too, the manipulative Jerry Divine in Todd Haynes’ magnificent glittery 1998 film Velvet Goldmine with the drop-dead gorgeous Jonathan Rhys-Meyers.

“I always wanted to act,” says Izzard, who made his West End drama debut as the lead in the world premiere of David Mamet’s The Cryptogram in 1994.

Still, Izzard, now 48, remains best known for his stand-up act in which he really rambles and segues and doubles back again. It’s pretty surreal stuff. Much like the man, whose life has also just been captured – warts and all – in the new documentary film Believe: The Eddie Izzard Story.

“Nothing was off-limits,” Izzard says. “I didn’t want a puff piece. Though there were times I said, ‘I would like that to be shown.’ But that’s pure vanity. I look like a complete mess in some scenes.”

Kind of like the day back in 1990 when a then-mostly unknown Izzard (he was a street performer in Europe in the 1980s and honed his act in the comedy clubs of Britain in the early-1990s) was hired to warm up a TV audience at a London studio taping. “I wanted to be on TV. And warm-up looks like hosting a show and I was used to doing that. But my material is too surreal. I just died on stage.”

Not that he regrets it.

So I tell Izzard the only thing I regret about my past is the length of it.

He laughs. “Good point! Regret is a useless emotion. You can’t change anything. I have learned from mistakes but I have no regrets.”

Still, there is one thing more that Izzard would love to do in Montreal one day.

“I’d really like to do a show up there in French,” Izzard says. “But I think I’d have to be sober.”

Eddie Izzard headlines Théâtre St-Denis on May 25.

Written by Momo in: Tour |

Eddie Izzard on the run


If Eddie Izzard ever wants to quit standup comedy and acting, he could make a handsome living as a motivational speaker. The podgy Brit doesn’t quit. And he obviously has never heard the old saw about teaching old dogs new tricks. The 48-year-old comedy icon should be an inspiration to slothful middle-aged men and women everywhere.

He speaks conversational French and functional German, and wants to learn Russian and Arabic, too. “It’s good to have things to do, so I know which way I’m going,” he tells the Straight by phone from Toronto, where he started his nine-city, 13-show Stripped tour of Canada, reaching Vancouver’s Queen Elizabeth Theatre on Friday and Saturday (May 21 and 22).

And when not exercising the agile mind he’s known for, he has become a born-again jock. Last July, with only five weeks’ training, Izzard took off on the experience of a lifetime, running north from London through to Scotland, then through Northern Ireland, then back over to Scotland and south through England and Wales back to London all in the space of 53 days. That’s over 1,100 miles, or to put it another way, 43 marathons. Wrap your head around that.

“You’re not supposed to be able to do that at 47,” he says. “I do think that we put our own restrictions on ourselves.” His goal is to be at the peak of everything by the age of 100. And he’s not being facetious. He really believes it. “I think as soon as you start thinking you’re slowing down, you start slowing down. I think there’s a psychological thing to it. I just think you’ve got to be on an adventure. I saw a guy who’s 80 doing the Hawaiian Iron Man. And that’s the way to live. One life, live it. Keep planning things. When you’re 90 you should think, ‘Now I’ve got to do this and that and the other.’ If you keep forging your way upwards, then I think everything will stay alert.”

Izzard ran for the charity Sport Relief, but one gets the impression he’d have done it anyway, just because. He claims he didn’t even get any material for his famously rambling act on the long, lone journeys.

“There’s nothing particularly about the run that has got into my material,” he says. “I like talking about the world and how it fits together. I think at some point it will come up as a diagonal. It will feed into the thing as a diagonal, the fact of how I discovered how people were and what they were like and how they behaved and how people are all the same in a good way. That I think will come out of it. But I haven’t noticed anything in particular that’s jumped into the material.”

Rather, he just soaked it all in.

“When you’re running on an adventure, a big sort of Lord of the Rings without any hawks, you really get at one with the landscape, with the road, with the towns, with some people asking you what you’re doing or waving to people that know what you’re doing,” he says. “I never got bored. And in fact, I really liked it when I was on my own. If you meet someone, that’s great, because they come running with you and you can talk with them and the miles do zip by. It takes your mind off things. But if not, if you’ve got a good vista to look out at, if you got to a place where you’d look down over the countryside—I like that because of the thousands or millions of years the countryside’s been developing. I ran past the place where the Battle of Naseby happened, which was this English Civil War battle site. I was imagining Cromwell and Roundheads clip-clopping up that street with the cavalry and cavaliers coming down the other way. I like history. I’m interested and fascinated, so it all fed my imagination. It was like running through a documentary about the country that is mine, the United Kingdom.”

So if we can’t expect tales from the trek on this Stripped tour, what then? A bit of everything else, it turns out. “It’s God and Darwin and the Romans and Greeks, ancient Egyptians, and Moses and giraffes and tigers and everything in between,” he says. Trying to weigh in on meatier subjects, Izzard has made his musings on religion a major chunk of the act. “I’ve decided I don’t think God exists. I was an agnostic. I think a lot of people are agnostics but they don’t go to atheist just in case God does turn up and go, ‘It was me all the time and now you can’t come.’ So I’ve decided, no, I’m fed up with this. I don’t think there’s anyone there. So I thought, let’s talk about it, let’s look at it.…I’m happy for there to be a God, but I’ve just decided there isn’t. So that’s, like, a heavier subject to go into. And that’s what I should do. I should talk about that, about human politics, about where the world has come from. That’s what I do, hopefully, just to try to up my game and make it better.”

Written by Momo in: Interview,Politics & Causes,Tour |

Eddie Izzard Joining Cast of ‘Race’


Apparently the theater gods and goddesses were listening when we noted earlier today that there was still one more gavel yet to fall in the re-casting of the Broadway play “Race”: When James Spader leaves that David Mamet drama after June 20, he will be replaced by Eddie Izzard, its producers said. Mr. Izzard, the comedian and actor who will take over in the role of the lawyer Jack Lawson, made his Broadway debut in the 2003 revival of “A Day in the Death of Joe Egg,” the Peter Nichols comedy; he’s also an Emmy Award winner for his comedy special “Eddie Izzard: Dress to Kill,” and looks smashing in drag (which he won’t be doing for “Race,” alas). “Race” is slated to run through Aug. 21 at the Ethel Barrymore Theater with a cast that will include Dennis Haysbert and Afton C. Williamson, as well as Richard Thomas, who has been in the play since its opening.

Written by Momo in: News |

Eddie Izzard: Stripped to the funny bone


Will he perform in girl mode? Or will it be boy mode?

“For the tour, Stripped, I’m doing it in boy mode,” Eddie Izzard said from Toronto. “The Sexy tour was very much in girl mode. I’m going to keep changing it around now.”

If you’re a fan, you know exactly what he’s on about. For the uninitiated, Izzard is a celebrated U.K. comic and actor who happens to be a transvestite. So the 48-year-old sometimes dresses onstage as a woman: skirts, heels, lipstick … the whole she-bang.

This might seem more British eccentricity than anything else, although Izzard (who identifies himself as straight) says transvestism is an urge he has harboured since the age of four. In any case, his outfits – be they masculine or feminine – are almost forgotten after he starts speaking.

The New York Times deems Izzard the most brilliant standup comedian of his generation. John Cleese calls him the “Lost Python.” No surprise: Izzard’s whimsical, sophisticated and often bizarre monologues do delve deeply into Monty-Python-like absurdity.

In one routine, Izzard pretends to be a smooth-talking bee-keeper who makes advances on women – unsuccessfully, as it turns out, because, “I’m covered in bees!” In another, he postulates Britain did well as a colonizing country, simply because of its “cunning use of flags.” And elsewhere: “They went to the moon and they brought back rock. Trouble is, we’ve got rock. That was the one thing we didn’t need, wasn’t it?”

During his current Stripped tour, taking him across Canada, Izzard promises to cover the waterfront.

“I talk about everything that ever happened, with gaps,” he said in a phone interview. “Everything in the world, from God to Darwin to the Romans to the Greeks to the Egyptians to Moses to giraffes and cave men.”

Izzard is less known in Canada than in the U.S., where he sold out Madison Square Garden in January. If you’re unfamiliar with his standup, you might know him from the TV series The Riches, about a couple of con artists who assume the identities of an affluent American family. Izzard has also acted in such films as Ocean’s Twelve, Ocean’s Thirteen and Valkyrie (in the latter, he’s a German officer running Hitler’s communications network). His best role was starring as Charlie Chaplin in the 2001 movie, The Cat’s Meow.

If they ever decide on a remake of Marathon Man, Izzard might be a good choice – or, at least, a literal-minded one. In September 2009, he ran 43 marathons (1,770 kilometres) in 51 days. This remarkable feat raised more than $2.8 million for the charity, Sports Relief. Izzard trained only five weeks before undertaking the runs in Britain.

Not surprisingly, Izzard identified tenacity as one of his defining characteristics – something that has stood him in good stead over his showbiz trajectory. It took a decade of woodshedding, from 1981 to 1991, before his career truly began to take off. Izzard honed his skills in comedy clubs, live sketch shows and busking the streets of London.

“I don’t think I have the gift of anything creative.” he said. “But I did want to do creative stuff. I do have the gift of determination. If there’s anything I’ve been given, it’s that.”

Born in Yemen, Izzard spent his early years in Northern Ireland and Wales.

He recalls being thrilled as a 12-year-old when, during a class skit, he made someone laugh. “I thought, ‘Oh, that sounds pretty good.’ ”

Izzard became a class clown at age 16. A chemistry teacher used to write on the blackboard, then, after a long pause, repeat aloud what he had just written. Young Izzard would fill these silences with funny quips.

“I just used, quite consciously, two years of chemistry lessons to increase my ability to ad lib into these gaps.”

As a young man, he dreamt of stardom. And he wanted it fast. Izzard’s early goal was to land a recurring role in a Monty Python-style television series by the time he was 25 years old. When this didn’t happen, he re-thought his priorities.

“I realized speed wasn’t important. No one’s ever going to say, ‘This guy, his creative stuff was rubbish. But look how fast he did it.’ ”

Complicating the issue was Izzard’s transvestism. Relatively early on, after becoming a performer in Britain, he leaked his secret to the press. Although there has been the occasional ugly incident (he was once beaten by thugs in Cambridge), Izzard’s proclivity is mostly accepted by audiences.

Whether it’s understood is another matter. For instance, some believed he was dressing “in drag” as comedy shtick. Others wondered if Izzard was gay, bisexual or transsexual. He said he’s none of those. And the women’s clothing is no gimmick. It’s just who he is.

“It has nothing to do with comedy,” Izzard said. “It’s like a woman turning up wearing a dress or wearing trousers. No one would bat a eyelid over that.”

For the neophyte, the notion of a straight transvestite might be confusing. Izzard counters by suggesting heterosexuality can be equally complex and befuddling. For instance, what about the woman with a preference for the “bad boy” who’s “a bit of a bastard?”

“It does get very confusing. So I think that all sexuality is confusing,” he said. “I’ve got all the boy stuff. Plus this extra girlie bit. I don’t know why. I’ve just been given those genetics.”

Written by Momo in: Interview,Tour |

Photos from Toronto

Thanks Just Jean for the latest batch of fan photos from Toronto.

If you have any photos of Eddie you’d like to share, send them here!

Written by Momo in: Fan Photos |


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