Eddie Izzard is 56 years old, and wears six-inch red bottom-heeled, knee-high leather boots better than I could ever hope or dream to. Surprisingly, I can still sleep at night knowing this. What I really wish I could do, however, is be even a fraction of the immense story-telling comedic powerhouse that Izzard is, and has been, for the last 36 years of his incredibly expansive career.
The U.K. comedian is currently on his Believe Me Tour, which performed at the Altria Theater on Saturday night. The tour is the stand-up comedy version of his memoir, Believe Me, which was released in June of last year. And undeniably, he remains one of the most fascinating and talented comics of our era.
Izzard, who was born in Yemen, starts from the beginning by explaining how his parents met and how he was conceived. Through the beauty of a PowerPoint projector, Google Maps, and a super savvy (and above all else, patient) tech guy named Greg, the audience went back in time: not only to see where Izzard was born, but also learning fun anecdotes about his illustrious childhood, getting his start in stand-up, and how he broke into Monty Python.
Yes. He became an unofficial member of Monty Python because he broke in. He broke into their studio.
Before the show started, guests were given the option to tweet questions to Izzard, or fill out cards in the lobby so he could answer them during a portion of the show. Even though I may never know the answer to my question: “What is the best lipstick to wear as your car breaks down on the side of the highway?” Answer: Definitely MAC’s Russian Red — trust me. Nevertheless, he did cover a bevy of other topics: learning what a jazz chicken was, how badass a tea cozy can be, and whether he actually knew why James Bond was codenamed 007.
Unsurprisingly, a big focus of the show was Izzard covering gender and sexual identity politics, and how they have changed since the eighties when he first came out. Which is significant, since Izzard is widely regarded as one of the most well known and successful gender-fluid comedians of all time.
Knowing since he was young that he identified as transgender, he struggled on how he could come out in 1980s Wales. During the show, this was discussed and reminded the audience just how lucky we are that we live in 2018. This was a powerful reminder that it is easy to glaze over the obvious daily struggles the LGBTQ community endures, but doing so in 2018 rather than the early 1980s makes us fortunate.
Another anecdote that is core to Izzard’s personal and comedic identity was the first time he wore a dress in public. He recanted how great it felt to walk around in it, but acknowledged the panic which came when he realized that he had to change before coming back home (where he had roommates). He thought he was safe to do so in a women’s washroom, until he realized that there was a group of bad girls — thirteen year old girls in heavy black eyeliner, smoking cigarettes, and every latch was broken.
He ended the show by saying he hopes that, in his lifetime, we will eventually come together so everyone can have the exact same opportunities as their peers.
Izzard is undoubtedly a gifted comedian. Yet something he doesn’t get enough credit for is how much of a humanitarian and political activist he is, no less than making genuine plans to run for mayor of London in 2020.
“I’m trying to do an Al Franken,” Izzard told George Stroumboulopoulos in an interview. “I want to bring all the energy of doing gigs in different languages, of touring around and playing lots of crazy places, of doing marathon running, of all this stuff. I’m going to bring that energy into it and hopefully do something positive. I can think in a different way, I can see things in a slightly different light.”
Izzard’s stream of conscious comedy always makes for an amazing show, but it’s really when he gets raw and vulnerable that it makes for an honest performance. He’ll always be known for his comedy, but what he should be known even more for his is heart.
Eddie Izzard is currently on tour for his Believe Me Tour. He can next be seen on October 9th at the Gaillard Center in Charleston, SC.