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Name: Adam Bernard
Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States
About Me: Entertainment journalist with 15+ years of experience. Supporter of indie music. Lover of day baseball, fringe movies, & chicken shawarma. Part time ninja. Nerdy, but awesome.
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Eddie Izzard Plays God
Wednesday, July 02, 2008

It is rare that you can say an entire audience was shocked to see a man appear on stage dressed in men’s clothing, but that was the reaction of the capacity crowd that filled Radio City Music Hall in NYC on Sunday, June 29th, when Eddie Izzard greeted his fans wearing not a dress, but jeans, a button down shirt and blazer. It was a notable diversion from his usual wear made even more interesting by the show’s title – Stripped. Izzard would later assure the crowd that he is still a “card carrying transvestite.” It was a fact he found a way to sneak in during a ninety minute set of high energy history lessons, a little bit of linguistics, and his vision of a crack smoking, universe creating, God.

“If God really wrote The Bible shouldn’t the first three words in it be ‘It is flat,’” Izzard opined, giving the audience a second to realize he was, of course, speaking of the planet. The start of the universe was also the start of the show as Izzard, who was both quick witted and quick tongued as he bounced around like a maniac who had a few too many Red Bulls (yeah, we’re sticking with Red Bulls for this analogy), would go through the entire history of time in about an hour and a half.

Clearly up on his biblical studies, Izzard’s crack smoking God did things such as create a huge dinosaur, put two horns on the top if its head, one on its nose and say “let’s make it only eat plants!” And triceratops was born. He also noted that only a crack smoking God could possibly think frogs would be an adequate plague.

The majority of Izzard’s jokes, as always, had very long buildups with many jokes within the main joke that one had to take the time to follow. Most of the audience was pretty good at keeping up, although at one time Izzard himself became a little lost after going off on a tangent and turned to someone in the front row and asked “what the fuck was I talking about before?” He quickly remembered and launched into the next section of his act.

Some of the best moments from the show were when Izzard, who seems to know he’s a smart man but is very kind about it, looked to put one over on the crowd. One moment in particular was during a scene he was creating of Noah building his arc, which Izzard rightly pointed out was not half of a circle, but in fact a boat. He had the giant squids in separate places and started to write a diary as one of them. He licked his finger and began writing in the air. A good third of the crowd started laughing, completely getting what he was doing. Izzard played with this realization, adding to the diary entry “New York gets the ink joke.”

On the flipside there was at least one time that I was disappointed in the majority of the people in my section. Izzard was doing a bit about the appendix wanting a new gig because no grass was coming down for it to process (“asparagus is just big grass, c’mon!”) and he was listing off new possible jobs for it, none of which appealed to the appendix. He then got to “back of book.” “Wait, hold up, go back to that one… back of book? Yeah, sounds good, we’ll take that.” VERY few people got the reference until he explained it. I’m sure he has a lot of gentle explanations for all of his jokes that he can break out when he sees they’re necessary.

A few other highlights from the night included when Izzard started talking about his Mac computer, noting that all of the Mac operating systems - Tiger, Panther, Leopard - are also names of Nazi tanks, and the numerous side references he threw in that you either caught or you didn’t. He referenced back to his “cake or death” bit and his “I have a stick” joke from previous acts, but my personal favorite reference was when he was talking about teaching a monkey to play the piano so a man could dance to it and said “you played it for her, Sam, you can play it for me.” (Five points to the first reader who gets that one!)

Finally, I am man enough to admit that even I was totally lost at one point during the show when Izzard did an entire bit playing with Latin tenses (I have an old high school teacher that would have LOVED this) eventually going from Latin to, of all things, German. I think getting a little bit lost at some point during the show is par for the course for an Eddie Izzard performance, though. You have to go in knowing that you’ll be lost at some point in time and that some of the references might not be fully understood for a few hours, or even a few days. That’s part of the fun of it all.

Eddie Izzard is one of the most brilliant comedians alive today, and I know that this is one performance I’ll be talking about for years to come.

Related Links

Website: eddieizzard.com
posted by Adam Bernard @ 7:52 AM  
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