Comedy

Eddie Izzard’s road-sculpted ‘scenes’ set him apart

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Jason Harris

Three and a half stars

Eddie Izzard June 13, the Pearl.

During one of his bits—he calls them scenes—Eddie Izzard talked about his dream as a teenager of joining British Special Forces. That might have worked for the world-famous English comedian, because it would have been a challenge. And when you see Izzard, you realize his main intention is to challenge both himself and his audience.

Izzard claims to be a disciple of Monty Python. He’s in such good standing with the seminal comedy troupe that John Cleese has referred to him as “the lost Python.” But watching him live, you get the feeling he’s a kindred spirit to Robin Williams, or perhaps Scotsman Billy Connolly. Izzard’s mind works so fast, he references so many things, from both pop culture and history, and he’s able to connect his topics and come back to previous ones with ease.

Williams and Connolly were known for going onstage with nothing, improvising an entire set. With Izzard, it’s a bit different—he finds subjects he thinks are funny, then spends months playing small venues talking out those topics onstage. Those improvs and long act-outs eventually become the base of his act, though I’d bet he’s still tweaking things every show.

His current tour, Force Majeure, is, as the redheaded 53-year-old puts it, “the most extensive comedy tour the world has ever seen.” That means 27 countries so far on a road trip that started in April 2013. On upcoming trips to France, Germany and Spain, he’ll do his entire act in French, German and Spanish. In other words, the tour is appropriately titled.

Izzard started Saturday’s show at the Pearl with the peculiarity of human sacrifice. “No one back in the day was going, ‘Oh, I like spoons. I’d like to get more spoons. I’d like to get a collection of spoons. Maybe if I sacrifice Steve.”

After that, he dissected items like the divine right claim of King Charles I: “Charles I said he was appointed by God. We executed him. Nothing happened. So no.” And Julius Caesar: “Did Caesar ever think he’d end up as a salad?” And how he describes himself as an “action transvestite”: “What we know are action movies and makeup commercials. Yippee-ki-yay motherf*cker, or maybe it’s Maybelline.” And the difficulty for ancient cross-dressers: “What did transvestites do back in Judea? Say, ‘I want to wear what Mary Magdalene is wearing.’ ‘You are wearing what she’s wearing.’”

From there he brought it back to where it started: “Human sacrifice is always with virgins. ‘My God, the crops have failed. They’re going to be sacrificing virgins again.’ People like us we’d ... try and stop this from happening. What would be the first thing we did? Well, we’d probably f*ck each other. F*ck a friend, save a life ... It is a loophole in the human sacrifice story. ‘We may have to sacrifice virgins, or people who’ve done it once.’”

He said all that, and then he took an intermission and did the second half of his show and then an encore.

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