Renowned comedian Eddie Izzard visits UC Davis on Book Tour
Eddie Izzard brought his international book tour to Jackson Hall of the Mondavi Center on Feb. 28. Izzard, a famed British comedian and actor, is on tour promoting his New York Times-bestselling memoir, “Believe Me: A Memoir of Love, Death and Jazz Chickens.” The California Aggie joined the crowd Wednesday night to see Izzard in his element.
As the lights dimmed and the crowd hushed, a tall man emerged from backstage. It only took a moment to realize, much to the delight of the whistling crowd, that he was actually anything but tall, as his height could be attributed to his massive knee-high leather platform boots. Further inspection revealed that he sported a turquoise blouse, a power suit jacket, brightly painted red nails and makeup. Eddie Izzard had arrived.
A self-described “straight transvestite, or male lesbian,” Izzard came out at the age of 23 while trying to get his comedy career off the ground. He addressed this occasion and many more seminal life moments throughout his show.
Izzard’s book is autobiographical in nature, and his book tour follows suit. He spent the show recounting his turbulent childhood and adolescence with an interactive grouping of Google Maps, personal photos and excerpts from the 2009 Emmy-nominated film “Believe: The Eddie Izzard Story.”
From the moment he took the stage, Izzard dove right into his set, beginning with his birth in Yemen, where his father was working for British Petroleum. Soon after, the Izzards moved to Belfast in Northern Ireland, where Izzard spent much of his youth. His nomadic life continued, with stops in Wales and Britain.
Izzard had no outright stand-up comedy in his act; instead, he simply told the story of his life on his own terms, which unsurprisingly involved various acts of humor. Throughout the show, Izzard charmed the adoring crowd with different voices, mannerisms and stories all rooted in his comedic nature. He described in detail how he got from point A to point B concerning his career, sexuality and family life.
The show was incredibly unique in this sense, providing constant humour in a less overt comedic tradition. With that being said, the production was unapologetically unpolished. The photos and excerpts shown throughout were essentially a slideshow on a projector behind Izzard. Oftentimes there was lag or a wrong photo showed, leading Izzard to poke fun at his crew controlling the projections. While this wasn’t a huge drawback, it did foster a feeling as though one was at a family reunion and not a $60 comedy show.
And perhaps that was Izzard’s goal. On his personal website, the tour is described as “an intimate, unique experience” — it was just that, and more.
Izzard interrupted such storytelling for a Q&A with the audience, with questions ranging from advice for the LGBTQIA community to his opinion on the rudest animal. It truly became an opportunity for the audience to dig deeper in their understanding of Izzard in both serious and comedic ways.
Izzard ended his show by discussing both his marathons and his theory about the world. He believes this is our last century on earth and, because of that, he hopes and believes it will be the century with the most equality.
On the subject of equality, Izzard professed his admiration for the former South African President Nelson Mandela. In Mandela’s honor, Izzard provided videos and photographs of his “27 marathons in 27 days” challenge, in which he ran 27 marathons in a 27-day period. He chose the number 27 to represent the number of years Mandela was imprisoned during apartheid.
Lastly, Izzard shared his theory: we are always at the center of the Earth because if you go in any direction, and stay that course, you will someday return to the same spot where you began. He also mentioned continuously his disbelief in God and how we are the master of our own destinies.
As a key aspect of his book, this theory was unlikely to be omitted from his show. However, Izzard’s beliefs were a hollow end to the show. Instead of providing unifying or inclusive statements, Izzard ended with divisive comments that surely ruffled feathers in the audience. The ending provided the audience with Izzard’s perspective, and much like the show’s production, this was also unapologetically unpolished.
Written by: Rowan O’Connell-Gates — firstname.lastname@example.org