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 |

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