Buy it on Amazon.
Eddie Izzard is on tour. If you know his work, you are about to click. If you don’t know his work, I will try to convince you not to stay home the night he’s playing your town. In the United States, that’s now through August 13. Then he’s performing in Europe until November 16. For information and tickets, click here.
In the old days, Eddie Izzard would stroll onstage in black vinyl pants and high-heeled wedgies, his mouth a slash of red. He’d have lashes to die for. And you’d think whatever you happen to think about cross-dressing, and then he’d say a word or three about cross-dressing — he sometimes described himself as an “executive transvestite,” which gets a laugh — and after that the way Eddie Izzard looked just disappeared as a topic.
But let’s not minimize the man-in-woman’s clothes thing. It’s not shtick. It is who Eddie Izzard is. And because he has confronted something deep and scary, he gets to be who he really is. Which is to say: a very smart, verbal, outrageously funny guy who would — obviously — never think of holding anything back.
Eddie Izzard’s shows seem random, a set of associations particular to that time and place. You get the sense that you are seeing material no other audience will ever be exposed to, and, to an extent, that is true. But the randomness is also a brilliant trick — it’s how Eddie brings you inside his head, the better to watch his synapses flash.
What that means: In this 110-minute show, you will watch Eddie cover more ground than you thought possible.
Like: Squirrels. “They eat with both hands, and then they look up” — here he mimes the look on the squirrel’s face — “wondering if they left the gas on.”
Europe: “That’s where the history comes from.” (But then he retells the story of the movie “Speed” — in French.)
The World Series: “Impressive in a world event that America always wins.”
Gun control: “They say ‘Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.’ Yes, but guns help.”
But this is hopeless. No reviewer — even a rabid enthusiast like me — can do justice to an Eddie Izzard show. So much happens, and the big laughs obscure stuff that’s small and subtle and maybe even better than the big laughs. [To buy the DVD of ‘Dress to Kill’ from Amazon, click here].
A little background. He is English (though he was born in Yemen). His father was an accountant, his mother doting. When he was six, she died. And that changed everything — he’s the first to say he’s never gotten over his mother’s death: “She is always with me. Always. There can be no explanation. If there is a God, then what the f*ck is that all about? Why take my mother?”
He became “a male tomboy” — “Running. Jumping, Climbing trees. Then putting on makeup when I was up there.” (Which is how he leads into the squirrel bit.) At 23, he “came out” — as a transvestite. “It scared the sh*t out of me,” he told an interviewer. “Way off the scale. I kept thinking, Why am I doing this? What is driving it? I had to lie in darkened rooms with the curtains closed and spend time getting into my head where my head didn’t want to go. Your mind builds up brick walls. And I had to tear them down.”
Once they were down, he was free. It’s freedom that his show celebrates — the freedom to think and say, as he would put it, “f*ck all.” It’s dangerous stuff. Intoxicating. Liberating. “Incredibly funny” is the least of it.
This article originally appeared on The Head Butler.
If you believe in the work we are doing here at The Good Men Project, please join like-minded individuals in The Good Men Project Premium Community.