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 |

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