Eddie Izzard finds his way

[from the Mercurynews.com]

When Eddie Izzard was at a career crossroads in his early 20s, the then-upstart British comedian found immediate inspiration from something less associated with one-liners than with graphical user interfaces: Apple Computer.

Apple inspired the college dropout to consider launching his own computer company, even though he lacked a clear understanding of the business. There was also the bit about his inability to raise capital.

“I couldn’t work out how to do it,” Izzard, now 49, says by phone as he sits in a cafe in Paris’ Place Pigalle section, where he is performing his “Stripped” stand-up show in French. “I chose the other thing.”

The “other thing” will be in full effect — appropriately enough, in Izzard’s beloved Silicon Valley — when he performs “Stripped” at the Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View on Saturday. One of his two U.S. appearances this summer, the Shoreline concert reflects the comedian’s affinity with the Bay Area, which stretches back to his West Coast debut in his “Dressed to Kill” show in San Francisco in 1998.

Since his 1991 breakout performance at a London benefit coproduced by future “House” star Hugh Laurie, Izzard has built a reputation as a fiercely original comedian. His ability to riff on everything from Steve McQueen to Gregorian chants to Greek mythology, to raft down assorted streams of consciousness, led to his being called the human search engine of comedy.

But the hilarity of Izzard’s observations is in the details. He re-imagines God, as voiced by James Mason, or Darth Vader grumbling in the cafeteria line of the Death Star.

All that normally would be enough to cement a comedian’s reputation, but Izzard has never made it easy for himself.

From his time as an aspiring sketch performer to his jump to stand-up to his move into serious acting, Izzard has almost stretched himself to absurd lengths rather than follow the obvious or easy path. When he took up running two years ago, he completed the equivalent of 43 marathons in 51 days. When he wanted to connect with an audience in Paris, he began performing his routine in French.

Though he immediately proved his marathon mettle, Izzard’s first foray into performing in French in the ’90s, though charmingly earnest, initially fizzled. He has since mastered the language and completed a self-financed 71-show run of “Stripped” — which, yes, included the bit about giraffes performing charades. His next goals as a performance polyglot: doing his shows in German and Russian. He ultimately would like to perform in Arabic in his birthplace of Aden, Yemen.

“I think I have a determination gene,” Izzard says. “It has something to with the death of my mother (when he was 6). And I quite consciously wanted to act since the age of 7. I’m putting together military tactics, determination, hopefully a good heart, and trying to set a positive image, so it’s all swirling into one thing.”

Izzard is regarded as one of the finest comedians of his generation, but he has yet to match that success as an actor. He’s landed plenty of plum jobs, such as the role of Sir Miles Axelrod in Pixar’s “Cars 2.” Izzard also has shown up in Hollywood hits (“Oceans Twelve,” “Oceans Thirteen”), starred in his own acclaimed TV series (“The Riches”), appeared in fanboy faves (the “Day of the Triffids” miniseries) and scored a Tony Award nomination (“A Day in the Death of Joe Egg”). Yet the breakout role has eluded him.

“The clock is ticking and I think I try too hard sometimes, which doesn’t always work,” he says. “My stand-up is based on having fun onstage, and when it works, it really works well.”

Izzard’s self-determined performance window closes in 2020 when he plans to enter politics. With the experience of campaigning for former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and fundraising for the Democratic Party in the U.S., Izzard is eyeing a run for the mayor of London, or perhaps a seat in the European or British parliaments.

“I’ve lived a life,” he says. “I’ve been talking about politics for 10 years, trying to establish myself as someone who’s paying attention and can maybe articulate on some things. But there are things I need to do for this career before I put it into deep hibernation. I want to get my drama at the right level. I feel like I’m getting close.”

What’s remarkable about his rise and ability to sustain his career is that it all could have ended abruptly in the early ’90s when he came out as a transvestite. Though perceived by some as a publicity stunt, if not career suicide, his fondness for performing in mandarin smocks and high heels is now nearly a nonissue.

“I think that it has become that,” he says. “In interviews, it is mentioned less, but the people who are fascinated by it go on and on and on. I say, ‘Hold on! I don’t want to be a professional transvestite. I just am a transvestite. It shouldn’t be the thing.’ ”

With a career that seems to keep building momentum, Izzard has just completed the filming of the British TV movie version of “Treasure Island,” in which he plays Long John Silver; has signed on to play a dwarf in “Snow White and the Huntsman”; and is now developing a political drama for FX network — all from a guy who at 24 considered himself a failure, unlike Orson Welles at that age, because he hadn’t yet directed his “Citizen Kane.”

“I’m kind of happy with the career,” he says. “It’s kind of bonkers, but it works for me.”

Eddie Izzard
When: 8 p.m. Saturday
Where: Shoreline
Mountain View
Tickets: $20-$81,

Written by Momo in: Interview,Tour |

Frost completes the dwarf line-up

[from belfasttelegraph.co.uk]

It appears Nick’s casting takes the place of Eddie Izzard, who had previously been linked to one of the roles.


Written by Momo in: Movies |

Eddie Izzard: Live At The Ambassadors (1993)

A great retrospective of Eddie’s first stand up video. Thanks, Ken!

“I’ve mixed bollocks with bollocks, and it levels out to complete rubbish.” – Eddie Izzard

If you were ever interested in seeing how Eddie Izzard evolved his act into the refined bits of loosely scripted material that were his shows Definite Article, Glorious, and Dress To Kill, track down a copy of his first show ever put on home video, Live At The Ambassadors. Filmed during March of 1993 in London’s West End theater district, it’s kind of like watching a rough cut of a movie, or listening to a demo tape of a band just before they figure out what they really need to make it work.


Written by Momo in: Tour Reviews |

The Global Domination of Eddie Izzard

[from nbcmiami.com]

Eddie Izzard doesn’t just give voice to an international tycoon in “Cars 2,” he IS one. Or at least he’s getting there.
Izzard, who provides the voice of uber-wealthy motorized magnate Sir Miles Axelrood in the Pixar sequel, tells PopcornBiz that he’s an admirer of the colorful, visionary, larger-than-life style of globetrotting billionaires like Sir Richard Branson. “I do like Richard Branson’s style, which is also, I’d say, Ben and Jerry’s style, the Pixar style, the Google style, the Apple style: positive and fun things, design, thinking out of the box. I love all that.”

And, after a long, ongoing stint as one of the most popular standup comedy draws on the planet, Izzard’s getting a whiff of that rarefied air himself. “I think I’m living the European dream which is similar, but slightly different, than the American Dream,” he says. “It has more people on mopeds amid the sound of the Mediterranean coast saying ‘Ciao’ to each other. If I was just a pure businessman – which I could’ve done because I did accounting and financial management in college – I think it’d be quite similar to what [my career] is now, because I do sell my comedy around the world.”
Already one of the most quoted-back-to-himself comics (nary a day goes by without him receiving a “cake or death” reference), Izzard’s now getting his punchlines parroted back to him in unexpected accents. “I had a French guy doing it to me in English and he said to me, ‘You did this bit.’ I said, ‘Oh, yes, yes. That’s a fun bit, that bit,’ and he was doing the whole thing and he’d learned it all in English. I thought, ‘F**king hell!’”
Izzard calls his global brand expansion just prep work for achieving a singular goal: “It’s a warm up for the Hollywood Bowl on the 20th of July,” he says. “No comedian has done it as a solo act. Richard Pryor has played there, [Monty] Python did three nights as a group, but no soloist, we think – we’re checking on it.”

Izzard’s certainly doing things his way: despite a plethora of offers to translate his specific style of comedy into on-screen parts, he continues to save it for the stage and focus on roles that define him as a dramatic actor instead – his next role will see him tackling a “realistic” take on the Snow White fairy tale “Snow White and the Huntsman” (Izzard plays one of the seven dwarfs).

“Part of my reason of not doing comedy on television very much and not doing any comedy series or hardly any comedy films, really, is because I wanted to do dramatic roles,” he says. “I like doing dramas, and drama is what I wanted to do in the first place, when I was seven. So it’s this schizophrenic thing with surreal comedy, drama and I keep pushing them up. The comedy is going nice and the drama is getting better and better.”

Written by Momo in: Interview |

Just for Laughs 2011: Will Montreal pardon Eddie Izzard’s French?

[from the montrealgazette.com]

MONTREAL – “Can we do the interview in French?” Eddie Izzard asked on the phone from London recently. “How about a bit of both?” I answered. “It’s for Montreal’s English newspaper, so I’d like some English quotes as well.” Izzard obliged, but by the tone in his voice, I’d say somewhat reluctantly.

The brilliant Brit stand-up comedian and actor, best known for his transvestism, rambling monologues and Monty Python-esque style, is on a bit of a French kick these days.

Having just completed 71 gigs in Paris, he was looking forward to Monday’s shows in Montreal at the Gesù – the first at 7 p.m. in English, the second at 9:30 in French. (He performs again at the same venue Tuesday and Wednesday at 7 p.m.)

For a comedian who fills stadiums in Britain, a show in a 425-seat venue seems a step back. So why the challenge? “The world is a melting pot and I try to mix things up,” Izzard said.

The show he’s performing, Stripped, debuted in 2009, so fans have probably already caught the best bits on YouTube. Yet Izzard keeps it fresh by ad-libbing as much as possible – a talent no doubt diminished in French, which he speaks well but sometimes too quickly, and with an accent reminiscent of the Brit tourist holidaying in Normandy.

Izzard has been quoted as saying he’d like to eventually perform his stand-up in three languages he does not speak: German, Russian and Arabic. Considering the challenge he faces in French, a language he learned in high school and is still trying to master, that seems a tall order.

“The shows are exactly the same in French and English,” Izzard said. “For the first 10 in Paris, I was sticking closely to the script. But as I got on, I developed more ‘abilité,’ though some nights I was only half as good as my best gag. But by the end of the run, I was improvising five or six times during the show. The better my language skills, the more I can talk rubbish like I do in English.”

Izzard makes a huge effort to avoid slipping into English during his French performances – save for the occasional “absof—inglument” – which is a far cry from his early French performances back in the late ’90s in Paris, when laughter was sparse and he had a tendency to slide in sentences like “Tout le monde est très pissed off,” and “Je ne apologize pas.”

One assumes French audiences laugh at a different style of joke, with a more deadpan delivery or Jerry Lewis-like gestures. Not so, says Izzard. “If your French is good enough, you don’t have to be more physical.” As for the culture-crossing laughs, Izzard points to The Simpsons. “That show is shown all around the world in different languages and it appeals to a variety of different senses of humour.”

Izzard’s French show is different, though, in that it’s a half-hour shorter. “It’s all the same stuff English and French speakers can deal with,” said Izzard, who takes on universal topics like God, atheism, Wikipedia, dyslexia, dinosaurs and PC vs. Mac computers. Having seen many of the same clips in both languages, there’s no denying the English set is funnier, yet the French performances of today are far superior to the nervous sets of the ’90s.

The Izzard style of today is also far less flamboyant than in past shows like Dress to Kill and Sexie. Gone is the man with Shelley Winters hair, kohl-lined eyes, nail polish and chunky heels. He’s playing down what he refers to as his “girl mode,” in favour of jeans, leather jacket and well-groomed goatee. Izzard 2011 is a cool guest on Chelsea Lately, a Hollywood actor in such movies as Ocean’s Twelve and Thirteen, and an activist who has made no secret of his political aspirations and strong support of Britain’s Labour Party.

He’s even become something of an athlete, having run 43 marathons in 51 days last year to support Sport Relief, a charity in the U.K. One of his goals during his Montreal stay is to run to the top of Mount Royal.

Watching the evolution of this comic, whose inspiration comes from the likes of Python as well as Richard Pryor and Billy Connolly, you see several contrasting personalities: male/female, English/French and most recently comedian/politician. Yet for Izzard, all these facets of himself are one and the same.

“I don’t have different personalities,” he said. “Yes, the politics are more serious, and the dramatic acting is more serious. But in the end, it’s all just me trying to be creative.”

Eddie Izzard: Stripped is at the Gesù, 1200 Bleury St., Monday to Wednesday at 7 p.m. in English and Monday at 9:30 p.m. in French. For tickets and more information, visit hahaha.com or call 514-845-2322.

Written by Momo in: Interview |

Eddie Izzard talks to the Herts Advertiser

[from hertsad.co.uk]

The second giggle-fest that is Laughs in the Park is due to take place later this month and this week Eddie Izzard shared with the Herts Advertiser’s reporter Laura Roberts just what it is that makes St Albans the location of choice for the comedy festival of the year.

THE KING of comedy, Eddie Izzard, is returning to St Albans this month for three nights to headline the unique outdoor comedy festival that is Laughs in the Park.

It’s the second year for the St Albans-based festival and in an interview with the Herts Advertiser, the internationally renowned comedian said he was looking forward to repeating the success of last year’s event.

He said: “We liked it and it seemed like St Albans enjoyed it but we’ve moved it to a more normal time for a festival, July rather than September.”

The crowds, the stands, the atmosphere normally associated with music festivals are all part of the fun for Eddie who says the biggest thrill of last year’s event was being able to participate in it as well as perform.

He said: “In theatres and arenas, it’s just a bit too obvious. But last year there were other acts on and this time the BBC are bringing a whole load of up-and-coming acts as well so there will be another tent to visit. I really enjoyed wandering around before I was on, watching great comedy because I used to love and still love going down to the Comedy Store and watching people do their stuff.”

Eddie, who will perform at the Hollywood Bowl – a 17,000 seater – just two days before he comes to St Albans, believes last year’s open-air inaugural festival was the first in the world and hopes comedy festivals will become as synonymous with summer as music festivals currently are.

“People don’t want to go inside rooms and watch gigs in the summer. This is a massive outdoor area. Nobody ever seems to think putting comedy outside would be a good idea but it is a great idea. We’ve been the poor relation to music festivals and I just thought, ‘stuff that’ and here we are. It was the same with the arena tours – I was the first to do it and now there are about 10 comedians doing it.”

St Albans holds particular significance to Eddie whose father was evacuated to the city when he was a child. “When Mick Perrin, who set the whole thing up and promotes all my shows, came up with the idea I was right behind it. I said, let’s do it around my father’s 82nd birthday. It was wonderful. My dad was up enjoying it all until three in the morning at 82 years old. Amazing.”

The award-winning comedian and actor is currently performing his stand-up routine in French and will go to Montreal to perform in English and French for his 13-week stint in Paris. He says it’s the perfect preparation for the festival. “Of course, there will be a few adjustments before I come to St Albans. I probably won’t come back and do it in French. I’ll be adding things to my set, but it will be the usual insane weird stuff that I usually do.”

Ross Noble and Tommy Tiernan will share the billing with Eddie and he is full of admiration for them. “They both do phenomenal stuff. Ross improvises more than anyone I’ve ever known. His comedy is on fire. And Tommy and I, our styles cross over. We’re both surreal and bonkers.”

Laughs in the Park will take place from Friday, July 22, to Sunday, July 24. A spectacular firework display is planned for the end of each evening at around 10.30pm.

Gates open at 4pm and BBC Comedy presents will have its own stage each day. The main stage show will start at 7pm.

Tickets can be purchased via the HMV ticket hotline on 0843 221 0977 and start at £20 (plus booking fee).

Written by Momo in: Interview,video |


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