Two things Americans probably guess they know, but they don’t know about comedian/actor Eddie Izzard:
ahhh, right, he’s that English guy who used to wear a dress. I know that much. So, but, ummm, is he, like… (Stop it. Those things used to matter. )
Self described “international minor celebrity Eddie Izzard” is both well-known and under the radar in the States. Tough to pull off that kind of conundrum, and most agents wouldn’t advise it nor get paid for it. However, if you’re reading this, you’re most likely a fan of comedy, so you know Eddie Izzard. We all do, right? Although I am now London-based, my first exposure was almost 20 years ago from a college friend of mine who was always quoting lines (“Do you have flag…?”) from his hilarious “Dress to Kill” live show, which, while taped in San Francisco for cable broadcasts, was an excerpt from a successful world tour. Izzard performed in drag, which in 1998, was a thing, but his material mostly addressed history – British, American, world nonsense, hence the riff on conquering nations and their penchant for flags.
I first really clocked Eddie in the underrated tv show, “The Riches”, broadcast on Fox from 2007-9. I had seen “Dress to Kill” many times by that point, as one does with a roommate who likes partying and guaranteed laughs at 2 am. However, Izzard’s starring turn, opposite Minnie Driver, as a faux-Southern grifter family man taking on a false identity was fantastic. It seemed worlds apart from his weary devastatingly British standup. He could, and can, act.
So looking into it, Eddie Izzard has had a career one would kill to have but possibly no one could plan. Besides the stand up, there are roles in Oceans “12” and “13”, in the Tom Cruise eyepatch blockbuster “Valkyrie”, a recent recurring role on the series “Hannibal”, Tony-award nominated theater stuff and lots of major studio voice-over work.
But he may be slipping into that area where his good, dramatic acting blurs his identity as a brilliant stand up. Like a Gary Oldman chameleon quality, slipping into character, but if Oldman was funny, and, so, err, no. But now, more live comedy for Izzard. As well-rounded as he is, this is what the people have been waiting for, based on the massive sales and added dates for his huge run at The Palace Theatre in London’s West End. The Force Majeure Tour has been three years strong; allegedly Izzard is about to celebrate an unofficial comedy world record of performing in 28 countries (and in four languages) – from Moscow to the Hollywood Bowl, ending in London, his home. Ish. A professional home, perhaps, as a sort of Yemen-born, Welsh raised… it’s complicated. He’s complicated, so I’ll let him explain.
His show is the one to see in London, and it runs through February 20th, get tickets here.
oh, and as far as those questions go, easy peasy. Eddie has said multiple times over the years to interviewers that he is a “straight transvestite”, and on a similar note, when I asked his PR rep how to definitively pronounce his last name, they told me, “just the way it looks”. So there you go.
A former ABC National, Dallas and Atlanta radio personality, Martina O'Boyle is now making movies and covering culture in London, Dublin, and as far in Europe as the cheapie flights will take her, for Pop Culture Beast.