Nov
06
2009

Eddie Izzard: ‘I beg America to believe I’m a transvestite’

[from Wales Online.co.uk]

Eddie Izzard is giving Hollywood stardom a rest while he returns to touring his stand-up. He talks to Gavin Allen about strategic transvestitism and the potential of arena comedy.

EDDIE Izzard has been in ‘boy mode’ so long that America can hardly believe he’s a transvestite.

While cultivating his film and TV career in Los Angeles he made the decision to tone down his wardrobe, and the strategy has served him well.

He landed the lead role in HBO series The Riches, as well as film roles alongside the likes of Tom Cruise in Valkyrie.

“I believed that if I had turned up for the auditions for The Riches or Valkyrie in make- up and a dress, I would not get the roles,” he says.

But as a result, the flip side of this approach is that the Eddie Izzard America knows is perhaps a less colourful character than the one we cherish here, although he certainly isn’t hiding himself.

“I tell everyone I’m a transvestite over and over again,” he says, baffled by the flipped logic of the situation.

“I insist and I beg people to believe it on TV (interviews) and I never thought that I would be on TV begging people to believe I’m a transvestite.

“But I am being strategic about this. I’ve been in boy mode for the last few years, but I know I can be in girl mode if I want to.

“If I wanted to, I could throw on a dress right now and if I went out in the street and people insulted me, then I would insult them back.

“ I would know what to do. It’s all still there. It’s in my toolbox. I am a card-carrying transvestite. Always have been, always will be.

“The thing is, if you are a straight transvestite like me, you have all this boy stuff going on – mainly boy stuff in fact – as well as the girly stuff.

I like football.

“I was going to join the Army when I was younger.

“And I just ran 43 marathons, which is not a terribly girlie thing to do.”

Oh yes, the marathons.

His marathon of marathons in fact. Izzard recently completed 43 marathons in 51 days for Sport Relief on a route which took him back to parts of Wales where he grew up; Neath, Porthcawl and Swansea.

How long did it take him to recover from the feat?

“It wasn’t as bad as I thought it might be,” he says. I didn’t really run for about eight days. But that was it. I was fine.”

Tonight he finds himself back in Wales for the first of three dates at Cardiff International Arena with his Stripped tour.

We now have a steady production line of arena comedy shows, but it was Izzard who started the trend, and while some rail that comedy gets lost in such cavernous rooms, he argues performers simply aren’t doing it right yet.

“Six years ago, I did the first arena tour of the UK and that was a little scary because I didn’t know what I would be dealing with,” he says.

“People will say it’s not intimate, but I’m doing smaller shows too on this tour and if people don’t want to watch it there, then don’t watch it there.

“But I definitely think it’s a good thing. It makes it more of an event. And why should rock and roll get all the arena shows?

“The only way to get good at arena gigs is to do loads of them.

“If you think of the first ever arena gig, when The Beatles did Shea Stadium in 1965, it was a crap gig. Great band, great event but a crap gig because you couldn’t hear anything.

But look at what U2 are doing in stadiums now.

“People have had to learn how to play stadium gigs in music.

“And comedy has to go through the same thing, we just have to work out how to play arenas.

“No-one bats an eyelid when bands play arenas and if it’s a good thing for bands it’s a good thing for comedy.”

Eddie Izzard is at the CIA tonight and on November 19 and 20. Tickets cost £30 from 029 2022 4488.

Written by Momo in: Interview |

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