57 Theater, Boston, MA • March 12th, 2000
If a comparison between the British Whose Line is it Anyway? and its pathetic and lugubrious American doppleganger hasn’t significantly hammered home the overwhelmingly obvious conclusion that England produces far better comedy than America, then seeing Eddie Izzard seals the deal. A British transvestite and star of stage and screen, Izzard has returned from his internationally acclaimed show, Dressed to Kill, with Circle, his new touring stand-up show with all the brilliance and oddities that make him a comic genius.
When Monty Python’s John Cleese said Izzard is “the funniest man in England,” he really wasn’t kidding. Using a headset instead of a microphone stand, he freed himself to use as much of the stage as he cared to swagger around, brilliantly stumbling through a ridiculously funny stream-of-consciousness streamline of thoughts that shot off on more tangents than an anal-retentive geometry class. He discussed humpback whale lounge singers and Darth Vader’s interactions with the Death Star’s pasta, and often launched into acted-out renditions of his subject matter that took on so many characters that he occasionally lost track. Yet his quick and witty recovery only added to the entertainment of his regular routine, as Izzard could do no wrong; he held his hysterical audience by their funny bones from the get go.
Such a good time did Izzard have with his audience that he occasionally stopped to talk to them, and it was hard to tell what part of the show was rehearsed and what part was just falling out of his ass like an improvised fail-proof joke book. Either way, almost every sentence that came streaming out of his mouth was met with an unavoidable collective guffaw from his audience. His humor is somewhat political – he truly hates Margaret Thatcher – and overwhelmingly silly. Still, he could have thrown anything at his crowd and they would have loved it. He never missed.
The two hours of his stand up comedy extravaganza flew by depressingly fast, yet Izzard is never one to disappoint – as silly as an encore for a comedian seems, he came back out for one last joke. Standing there on the simplistic stage of the 57 Theater wearing a largely toned-down outfit when compared with his normal, flashy attire, he explained the differences between the American and British dream. He then paused and said, “And in the words of General George S. Patton, ‘That’s a very large hat.’ Goodnight.” A strange notion to end on, but judging by the audience’s standing ovation, Eddie Izzard’s strangeness in comedy is just what they came for. ◼