Thursday, 7 February 2008

Review: Eddie Izzard, New Material Night at the Arts Theatre

Eddie Izzard is growing old gracefully. For his new material night in the teeny tiny Arts Theatre, off Leicester Square, it’s out with the mini-skirts and slap and in with a smart gut-concealing jackets, expensive looking jeans and the early stages of a salt and pepper beard (“I’m an off duty Transvestite”). Eddie turns 46 today and he’s slipping comfortably into middle age. It suits him.

The act is more grown up too. Baring in mind this is try-out material we can’t expect too much, but there’s a definite shift in tone. Those mammoth leaps of imagination feel more controlled, there’s more of an agenda.

Eddie ‘08 is more concerned with themeing his material than previous shows. Perenial Izzard favourite God is back at the forefront, and this time we’re very defiantly, 100% absolutely sure he definitely probably doesn’t exist. Eddie weaves the evolution stuff showcased at last years Secret Policeman’s Ball, which has got a bit sharper and a bit funnier (“it goes Monkey, Monkey, Monkey, Monkey, Monkey, Monkey, YOU”) with the more obvious holes in creationism, biblical dogma and the Ten Commandments. It’s nothing new: Eddie Izzard shows have concerned themselves with evolution, Noah’s Arc, and what God had to do with Dinosaurs since the early 90’s. This time round though, there’s definitely more of an agenda. Maybe it’s his film and TV career and the fact he’s so often in the States, where Creationism and Intelligent Design are social and political hot potatoes. Maybe as he gets older his thoughts have got more profound. Maybe he just found he really had something to say this time around. Whatever the reason there are fleshes in tonight’s set that reveal a genuine anger at the silliness in modern religion.

The other major theme is technology and the IT society. Wikipedia gets a thorough going over, in what seems a love/hate relationship with the internet and access to information. Oh, and there’s Macs Vs PC's too. Eddie Izzard loves Macs. If this show was sponsored by Apple it wouldn’t be that big a surprise. Eddie loves his Mac, he especially loves his iPhone. One anecdote has him at a table reading with Tom Cruise when all he wants to do is show everyone his iPhone.

It nearly comes across as smug, but he pulls it off just about.

Oh, and there’s Jam. God has Jam, Wikipedia has Jam, there’s Jam on the iPhones, in the desert, it’s smeared everywhere. Jars of the stuff. Jam, jam, jam, jam, jam, jam, jam. Because some things never change, no matter how old you get.

There’s still some brushing up to do. There’s moments of brilliance –two hunters conversing in cod-latin is pure, distilled Izzard- but not yet any of those insane, quotable moments (“Cake or Death”, “death star canteen”) that even the weaker shows have had.

There are some holes here: the stream of consciousness errrrrrrrrrrrring isn’t as exciting as it once was, and his brain doesn’t seem to kick out the more bizarre stuff at quite the velocity it once did (Russell Howard and Bill Bailey both do it better now). But with the material shaping up to be smarter and sharper than before and with more work to do, 2008 could be a vintage Izzard year.


slaton said...

just saw him a few nights ago and there was a lot of the same material. really appreciated this recap, thanks.

Anonymous said...

still cant get over how bad he is now
talent is either used or lost