Listen closely to Izzard’s clever patter and you’ll enjoy great payoffs


What: Eddie Izzard

Where: Royal Theatre

When: Last night

Rating: **** 1/2 stars (out of five)

Seconds after stepping on the Royal Theatre’s stage, Eddie Izzard announced he was confounded by our city’s name.

The popular British comedian had done usual “hello Victoria” greeting before stopping himself. “I shouted out the name of a queen from the 1800s,” he said slyly. “ That’s a bit weird.”

The Canadian leg of Izzard’s Stripped tour brought him here after stops in Toronto, Winnipeg, Regina and Calgary (tonight he embarks on a two-night stint at Vancouver’s Queen Elizabeth Theatre). As promised the comic, a self-proclaimed transvestite, was in “boy mode.” So… no dress. Still, for Izzard, dressing as a guy apparently means accessorizing ones tailcoat and jeans with high heels, eye-shadow and rouge.

For the first hour, Izzard — one of the globe’s sharpest comics — talked about God and the evolution of religion. This may not sound a laugh riot; and to be sure, one had to pay close attention to his clever patter. Yet payoffs were there in abundance.

Much of Izzard’s shtick revolved around the inherent absurdities of Christian lore. For instance, how could someone like God tolerant a nasty chap like Adolph Hitler?

“If there was a God, he would have flipped Hitler’s head off,” Izzard said. He then did a funny little routine about der Führer’s troops who, pleased about their leader’s ability to pop off his noggin, chant “Nazis… number one!”

What makes Izzard (who’s also a TV and film actor) different from other stand-up comics is the dizzying speed of his wit, his utter comfortableness on stage and, above all, his deliciously-honed sense of the absurd. The latter somehow seems a distinctly British sensibility — Izzard eschews the raw brashness of a Chris Rock, for instance, in favour of that loopy sense of surreal embraced by Monty Python.

Throughout, there’s a gentleness to what he does. One observer has called this approach “the velvet razor.” Put another way, the equally brilliant Billy Connolly slaps us on the back like a high-IQ pub companion on an absolute roll. Izzard is also energetic, yet there’s more of an eye-winking, subtle sense of style to his delivery; he’s like the Oxford undergrad shifting into high gear at a martini party.

Last night’s show included a potted history of the world, based on information Izzard cheerfully admitted he’d culled from Google and DVDs. Take dinosaurs roaming the earth for 200 million years. What sort of deity would allow this? “That’s got to be God on crack,” Izzard declared.

When following his idiosyncratic logic threatened to become wearisome, Izzard took care to pepper his act with crowd-pleasing bits. We were, for instance, treated to an impersonation of self-important dinosaur poets. Then he pretended to be a Raptor pulled over for speeding.

Later, Izzard pondered the precise moment when humans officially entered the Stone Age. He imitated a prehistoric man who, encountering a bison stuck in a swamp, suddenly decides to bonk his prey with a stone.

“Why have I never thought of this before? It’s so f—ing obvious,” Izzard said with a grin.

(Note: Due to deadline restraints, the reviewer left before the two-hour-plus performance ended.)

Written by Momo in: Tour,Tour Reviews |

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