DVD Review: Believe: The Eddie Izzard Story


Eddie Izzard stares at you from the back of his DVD case, strong, somewhat menacing in a black t-shirt, his look very don’t-f-with-me, and he’s… wait… what’s that… is that blue nail polish? Eddie Izzard, born in 1962 in Yemen to British parents, is the subject of Believe: The Eddie Izzard Story, a documentary that focuses on his return to comedy after a three-year hiatus. Cameras follow him as he works his way through workshops to a comeback tour, which was scheduled to culminate at Wembley Arena in London. The viewer sees the evolution of a show, from inception through production.

In one of the stupidest exposés ever, a British television program claimed that Izzard was committing fraud on the public by including older material in his latest stand-up show. It’s nearly impossible to believe that “the public” in question, who would have been stand-up comedy fans familiar with the practice of integrating new and old material, felt they were being defrauded. It was reported that many of the bits he did in his live show were available on the video of his previous show. So?

Watching a film of a live performance and catching the performance live do not provide the same experience. Fans may see a performer do the exact same act several times and find that there’s no such thing as “exact same”—the performer bringing different nuances and new material, constantly refreshing and refining. What seems like a molehill became a mountain in 2000, and Izzard stopped performing stand-up for three years. He continued acting in films (e.g., Ocean’s 12), television, and on stage, and was often seen on talk shows.

When Izzard was four years old, he would try on his mother’s dresses. When he was a young boy his mother died of cancer and he and his brother Mark were sent to boarding school. Believe: The Eddie Izzard Story is interwoven with old photographs and home movies, as well as videos of some of Izzard’s early performances. What we see in this documentary is an affecting story of a young man who worked incredibly hard to become a successful performer. From his early days as a street performer when he did an escape act, rode a unicycle, and did skits with a partner, through his triumphant return to the stage, we learn exactly how grueling a comic’s life can be. If you think that comedians do their time in small, local clubs and work their way up to comedy festivals, big venues, and The Tonight Show, you couldn’t be more mistaken. The amount of labor, time, and money expended to become successful is staggering. But, first, the talent has to be there.


Written by Momo in: Believe Reviews |

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