Saturday, April 19, 2008

Eddie Izzard: 'Every Gig Is a Rehearsal'

A cool interview with the funniest make-up wearing comedian alive, and quite possibly the funniest man alive.

Talking to Eddie Izzard feels a lot like watching him careen through one of his routines: he is free-associative, tangential and often brilliant. Americans who only know Izzard as Wayne Mollow, the con-artist family man who could suave the spots off a leopard, on FX's "The Riches" are about to see a lot more of him. This month he takes his new stand-up act on the road in his nationwide tour, "Stripped." He has also just finished shooting "Valkyrie," a biopic starring Tom Cruise as Claus von Stauffenberg, the Nazi officer who led a failed plot to kill HItler, and he is lending his voice to "Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian."

NEWSWEEK's Brian Braiker caught up with Izzard, the funniest transvestite alive, to discuss, in no particular order: his new act, Wikipedia, God, sharks, cross-dressing, Nazis and Tom Cruise. Excerpts:

NEWSWEEK: Why is your new tour called "Stripped?"
Eddie Izzard:
The heels got too high on the last two tours. Now I've just gone back to blokey mode, so I've got all this movement back which I couldn't do before. The set is leaner, what I'm wearing is leaner and just focusing on what I'm talking about. I keep talking about God and I come to all these different conclusions. I'm talking about the whole civilization, trying strip that back, as well. The last 5,000 years we did everything. I put out my idea what we're doing here. I think it's all random. If there is a God, his plan is very similar to someone not having a plan.

So no do drag at all this time?

I might be wearing a bit of eyeliner, but less than Keith Richards wears. I don't call it drag anyway; I'm not wearing a dress.

Do you see yourself more as an actor or a comedian these days?
hat I first wanted to do was to be an actor. I've had more time being a stand-up. It's a trial-and-error method with me. Some people are natural. I just bulldoze in and sometimes I nail things and sometimes I suck it up. My stand-up is quite good now, people say. It's just like a big conversation each time. Every gig is a rehearsal.

Is your style different at all on "Stripped?"
It's walking through my brain. I'm quite good at taking in information so I voraciously inhale Wikipedia—which may have some things wrong in it, but I think is generally more information than we had before. Last tour we didn't have Wikipedia. And then Discovery Channel and History Channel. I can take it in and retain what I think are the most important facts.

Read the rest.

Eddie Izzard: Definite Article
(full show)

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