Eddie Izzard proves there’s method in his comic madness

[from the Vancouver Sun]

Eddie Izzard is many things: actor, marathon runner, charity fund-raiser and, yes, self-proclaimed transvestite.

He’s also a first-rate comedian. Now more than halfway through the Canadian leg of his Stripped Tour — he’s not in drag for this one — Izzard brought his sharp brand of comedy to Vancouver Friday night for the first of two shows at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre.

The British comic isn’t everybody’s cup of tea. Often absurd and tangential, Izzard’s stream-of-consciousness approach doesn’t follow a traditional comic trajectory. It’s observational, to be sure, but it’s far removed from the material of an everyman’s comic such as Jerry Seinfeld or the oft-hilarious and occasionally offensive Chris Rock.

Izzard instead takes his audience on a nonsensical adventure where the journey is the destination. It’s easy to get lost in his mumbled minefield, which offers plenty of explosive material along the way.

Wearing a black tuxedo jacket with tails, black T-shirt and jeans– with a healthy dose of eyeshadow on his heavily made-up face — Izzard localized things immediately with a quip about Captain Vancouver, “Canada’s first superhero.”

Religion provided a rather large target for Izzard in the early proceedings. It’s not mean-spirited stuff, though; Izzard prefers to comment on things like gods living up in the clouds, where visibility is poor. “Who would live there?” he asked rhetorically.

There’s no fog when it comes to his overall view on religion, though his description of himself as a “spiritual atheist” might confound some in the holier set.

Where Izzard shines, though, is in his ability to make a polished act seem completely spontaneous in its delivery, even pretending to get lost occasionally. He’s so good at it, in fact, that when he wondered aloud where he was, a few folks in the audience felt compelled to shout out verbal cues to help jog his memory. “Thank you, script supervisor,” he said after one gentleman offered some unwanted assistance.

All this, of course, just provided more laughs.

Some of Izzard’s material veers into the realm of Monty Python. Quite silly, really. “Why weren’t there any dinosaur poets?” got a good laugh, though often it seems to be his frenetic delivery that drives the crowd’s positive reaction to the jokes.

But that’s comedy, isn’t it? “Ten per cent content, 90 per cent yelling,” Seinfeld told talk-show host Jimmy Fallon this week, the point being that the method is often as important as the madness behind it.

Izzard’s method is madness, of course, but there’s certainly a good dose of incisive intelligence in the mix.

Some jokes are too long, which can diminish the payoff: His Noah’s Ark bit felt like it floated aimlessly for 40 days and 40 nights.

Then again, comedy is a subjective enterprise. Izzard is rarely gutwrenchingly funny, but he’s genuinely entertaining to watch.

Although, to be perfectly honest, he’s sexier in heels.

Written by Momo in: Tour,Tour Reviews |

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