Eddie Izzard is a British actor/comedian who lives in West London but is based in Los Angeles, California, where he is working on his dramatic acting career. He’s been a popular standup comedian for over 10 years, working throughout Europe, the US, Australia and New Zealand. He was born in Yemen (where his father worked for BP), raised in Ireland, Wales and Bexhill-on-Sea.
He’s done his act successfully in Paris in French, as he is quatri-lingual, speaking English, French, German and Latin (product of a British boarding school). He’s a ball of energy and specializes in stream of consciousness blather, talking nonsense about history, mythology, animals, toasters and jam. His comedy is inspired by Monty Python and Richard Pryor, and he’s been called the “lost Python” and the “funniest man in England” by John Cleese. Famous lines from previous shows your Eddie loving friends might quote are:
I’m covered in bees!
Cake or death?
Guns don’t kill people, people kill people. And monkeys do too (if they have a gun).
He’s had roles in a dozen films and a starring role in 2 seasons of a US FX channel drama called The Riches (co-starring Minnie Driver). Right now he is in the middle of a sold out and critically acclaimed standup tour called Stripped, his first proper tour in 5 years.
Eddie is a straight transvestite (often previously decked out in Gaultier and stilettos), but he’s dressing blokey this tour in a swallowtail jacket, jeans and men’s boots. His long sideburns, goatee and eyeliner give him a dashing piratical look. I’ve had the privilege of seeing 2 shows on this tour, as well as a gig from his Work in Progress as he warmed up in NYC. I saw him on the first stop of Stripped in Boston in April, as well as in Tampa in June.
Here’s a review of the Tampa show which I attended with my sister and a friend, at the splendid Art Deco Tampa Theater. We sat in the 4th row, stage left. Eddie royally entertained us for 2 hours and 20 minutes, non-stop, not even drinking water.
It can be hard to remember his routine, as he talks so fast and has so many tangents. You’ve really got to pay attention. Eddie is a comedian for intellectuals and liberals. Fundies need not apply.
He did a lot of the material I’d seen in the previous 2 shows, but I was so happy he really mixed it up and added new twists and subtracted other stuff. I had plenty of new bits to laugh at. I was prepared just to gaze at his beauty (did I mention he’s gorgeous?), but he did not disappoint me or my newbie friends.
He did at least 10 minutes, if not 15, on Tampa alone. (He always tries to tailor each show to the city he’s in.) He looked Tampa up onhis iPhone on wiki (he’s been doing this as part of the act, using wiki onstage and extolling Macs as well). As he waited for it to load, he guessed the name meant something to do with a whale’s vagina (Tampax crossed with Anchorman?), but someone near me shouted out it meant sticks of fire. Finally his wiki came up and he read tampa meant huge lightning (Native American term). Eddie shows are so educational.
Next, he mimed playing spoons and tap dancing (Eddie is a brilliant mime), saying you didn’t really need spoons or taps on your shoes, just a halfway decent microphone. He danced all over the stage doing that bit. It was adorable and a good way to warm up the crowd. Later in the show he also mimed a lot of tennis, making the sounds of a ball being hit, or making the grunts that people make, and then adding nonsense syllables as well. Eddie calls himself an action transvestite, and like the Energizer Bunny, he never stops moving.
He said he had a hard time with the heat in Florida, but we all must be used to it. But people shouted out “No they weren’t”, which surprised him. Then they shouted out “AC!” and Eddie said if AC was a god he’d worship it. Then he modified it to say if it was a political candidate he’d back it. …After all this blather, and more, he said he hadn’t even really started the show yet.
He finally went into his prepared bit about how wiki is run by a family in a toilet, Mr and Mrs Wikipedia, and their kids Kev and Steve. He talked about no one ever used to know how anything was made… bread, jam. You just had no way of knowing before Wikipedia.
Then he mimed working in a jam factory and taking big licks of jam off his hands. Also testing the lids by tapping them with a spoon and making the noise and then chucking away the ones that sounded wrong.
He addressed how bathrooms in US restaurants do not have bathtubs, and so shouldn’t be called bathrooms, but toilets. Then he mimed bathing in a public restroom. He also scolded us and said how American football should be called throw ball, catch ball, run with ball. (He didnt say, “Throw ball, catch ball, hit man,” this time, like he had previously.)
Then he skipped into the meat of the show, religion and the Bible. This is a recurring theme in his act through the years. Now he is forthrightly addressing how there can’t be a god with a big beard who is creating and guiding the world. If so, how do you explain dinosaurs and all those millions of years with no religion? He spoke about about the beginning of the world and how he’d have to go with the science. Because in the Bible, it should’ve said right at the beginning, “It (the world) is round.” Dinosaurs didn’t go to church! He mimed a dinosaur in church, sidling down the pew to take a seat, singing a hymn, etc.
Eddie then addressed the Stone Age and hunter gatherers. The hunters were so sexy in their loin cloths, and ripped muscles, beating mammoths with their fists and finally chucking a stone at one, which ushered in the Stone Age. The gatherers — not so sexy (slowly picking berries, eating most of them). Farming, which came in later, was definitely not sexy. Farmers raise animals just to avoid the boredom of watching crops grow. (He did a whole mime thing about farmers chasing someone on a slow moving yak, and then they were in a speedboat and someone was filming from a parachute. This was all to make farming seem sexy, and it was very surreal and silly. …You had to be there.)
Then he segued into how religion wasn’t invented until language was. (You also can’t tell a kid a bedtime story without language [but he of course demonstrated trying]). Scrabble without language, just random grunts and consonants, you get a lot of points. 96, to be exact.
He then moved on to the ancient Egyptians and Greeks, who were called ancient because they were all born old. The Egyptians got the idea of pyramids off the back of a dollar bill, except they left the top bit on and used the eye for their written language. This was followed by a news and weather report by hieroglypics. “Big hat, big hat, eye, squiggly line, cat, rain.”
Back to the silliness of the Old Testament, he addressed Creation (God making creme brulee for the hungry and complaining badgers) and Noah’s Ark (a recurring theme for him). You could not have gotten pairs of all the animals in the world onto an ark. How does he know this? “Well, try it.” Also, the tigers would’ve eaten all the other animals, and all the evil ducks would’ve gotten out on a loophole.
Next he mimed a squid in a cupboard complaining about no towels and no good telly reception, then writing up an Expedia type review, “Can’t find Gerald (the other squid) because he’s lashed to the roof, will have to stream The Riches on hulu.com, etc.” When he mentions The Riches, the crowd always cheers. He was doing this, a whole review of the ark, when someone from the audience loudly shouted out, “Squidblog.com!” Then we got to see Eddie deal with a heckler. He goofed on the guy, finally asked if he was a squid, and just when you thought that was all over, a young woman’s voice sang out, “Five goooold rings!” (a quote from a previous show). Finally his exquisite manners wore out, he got a bit annoyed and told those two hecklers to get together after the show and “Do some crack cocaine.”
“Sooo…yeah.” Back to the show. He bounced in place as he reminded himself where he was. So cute.
After a bit of stuff about (un)Intelligent Design and appendixes, and some giraffe Charades, ending with the Eiffel Tower (don’t ask), and a centurion describing Hannibal coming to attack Rome (all in Latin and involving toasters and squirrels and infinatum soldata), he did a bunch of God and Jesus stuff, said Galadriel was Jesus’ mother, said Jesus was really called Yoshua and if he came back today, no one would recognize Yoshua as Jesus.
Finally, he did a whole 10 commandments thing– Moses being gone up the mountain so long the people had time to, “Smelt metal!” then coming down several times with a bunch of crap rules… being told they were crap and going back for different ones. (One set was, “Eat your nuts quietly, keep your tail clean, if something bad comes, run up a tree, etc.” Admitted those were squirrel rules.) Did the ox coveting routine– why is it wrong to covet someone’s ox? Surely that’s the basis of trade and economics? Perhaps it was meant to be, “Thou shalt not ‘cover’ thy neighbor’s ox.” Finally he addressed the golden rule (as it is comprehensive and all the other rules are in there), as the last part before the encore. Left the stage.
Came back after less than a minute and said, when we got to the moon, God should’ve been there. (Earlier he’d talked about how Mercury was too hot as well as too cold, a crap planet, and how there was a tiny window of the day to go out on the veranda and enjoy the view, between too hot and too cold. People on Mercury pray to go the the blue one [Planet Earth]. Also he had God spray painting Mars red). In the encore, he had God saying the moon was only primed, not painted yet. He also said God had been on the dark side of the moon previously, with Pink Floyd and Darth Vadar (yay Darth Vadar! another recurring character). He said Vadar played the harmonica all the time for God (mimed this for quite a while, then admitted he couldn’t mime harmonica so switched to a trumpet), and should’ve done more swirly stuff with his cape.
Then he danced around, did a bit more tennis and I think that was about it. Bowed, audience in ecstasy. But then, as usual, Eddie also came out into the lobby to do at least 15 patient and thoughtful minutes of Q&A for the faithful who waited (myself among them). Eddie just wound up 3 days at Radio City in NY and will now take his tour to the West Coast, ending in LA in August. Check youtube for dozens of Eddie bits and go to cakeordeath.com or eddieizzard.com for updates, news, articles, blogs and photos.