James Helsby

LRE #37: Eddie Izzard Live from Madison Square Garden

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Little Red Envelope

In my mailbox this week:
Eddie Izzard, Live at Madison Square Garden

Release Year: 2010

Staring: Eddie Izzard

Perhaps the funniest man alive finally gets his shot at the Garden.

If you are unaware of who Eddie Izzard is, then perhaps I should start at the basic level. Izzard, if a world famous British comedian, who has been performing for over 20 years now. Originally born in Yemen, Izzard rose to notoriety because of his flamboyant nature. Much of his time performing have been in a continual state of cross-dressing. As the years went by Izzard, we could watch Izzard evolve in his drag persona. At first, just a casual suit. Then some make-up, and leather. Then a dress. Eventually reaching the point of wearing false-breasts. He describes himself quite accurately as, ‘A Lesbian trapped in a man’s body.’

But don’t let that fool you. You might think that his performance is based around his drag, but it has hardly anything to do with his stage act. If nothing else, Izzard is perhaps one of the most insightful comedians I have ever seen perform. He has an unnatural ability to remember exactly where he was in a joke, even if he goes off on a tangent; that may last for an entire hour. He is amazing at his ability to bring it all back around and keep his entire show on target.

Don’t be fooled by his British humor either. As a former Brit, I can say without a doubt that much of the ‘British Humor’ is as dry as sandpaper. For many British comedians, jokes tend to revolve around dialog, and not so much around situations. Otherwise, it can be the opposite; situations with almost no dialog.  But Izzard deals with his joke in a perfectly natural way. He Mocks them to the point of satire, and then takes it one step beyond. No one liners here, the joke is the punchline. And you can’t help but find yourself holding your side laughing until the pain takes you away.

Izzard isn’t just a comedian though, he is a very recognizable voice and screen actor. He appeared as Torrence in the recent BBC adaptation of ‘The Day of the Triffids,’ was General Erich Fellgiebel in ‘Valkyrie’, was Wayne Malloy in ‘The Riches’, Roman Nagel in the Oceans movies, and my personal favorite, Jerry Devine in ‘Velvet Goldmine.’ He is unmistakable, and even now I have no difficulties in recognizing his uneque voice.

Live at Madison Square Garden, is a stage filming of his most recent ‘Stripped’ tour. The first feature performance of new material since his Sexie tour in 2003. Izzard has dropped his drag persona, perhaps with realization that a man of 50 doesn’t have the figure that he did when he was 40. But the wit and banter is still there. Unfortunately, James Mason didn’t show up during the filming of this special… But Mrs Badcrumble at least get’s an honorable mention.

Truth be told, God is the target for his performance this time around. Izzard starts the show off on a strong note, requesting that if God exists please come down and have a seat. Furthering the punch with his arguments of the proof that God isn’t out there. 1) He would have showed up just then. 2) He would have flicked the head off of Hitler. There is nothing like a side splitter right out of the gate, and Izzard continues to give them.

Unfortunately, Live at Madison Square Garden / Stripped doesn’t really flow as well as some of his earlier work. Dressed to Kill (in San Fransisco) or Glorious (Hammer-smith Apollo) where the two best instances of his recorded stand up material. Don’t let that stand it your way. If you know Izzard, and love his work, this is another great one to add to your collection, But if you are new to him, start with one of those two I just mentioned. I played Dressed to Kill to a group of friends who had never even heard of Izzard before, and by the end of the show they were all rabid fans.

He is just perfectly quotable…. Running Jumping Climbing trees, and putting on make-up when you are up there… or perhaps the most know joke…. Cake or Death?

How painful was it:  Not as good as Glorious or Dressed to Kill, but still pretty damn funny

Rating: 7/10. If you like Izzard, it is definitely worth your time to watch it. If you haven’t seen an Eddie Izzard, start with some of the older work.

The Wife’s Retort: It was great, but I still fell asleep.

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