Eddie Izzard at UCSB’s Campbell Hall
British Stand-Up Emphasizes Spontaneity on November 17
He may have cut back on wearing women’s clothing, but that’s not because Eddie Izzard isn’t a proudly self-proclaimed transvestite, even if these days it only manifests in a coat of nail polish. The elements of Izzard’s one-tranny show haven’t changed either — he’s still stuck on God, who got a thorough dressing down in this performance, mostly for not being there for humanity — and he still loves to digress. In fact, Izzard’s single most common rhetorical mode may accurately be termed “stream of self-consciousness.” His routine overflows with moments in which he asks himself, “Where was I?” and “What was the point I was trying to make again?” But rather than slowing things down, all this recursion just adds to the hilarity.
Izzard is very, very funny. Whether he’s suggesting a version of the Tour de France in which performance-enhancing drugs would be required and non-dopers would be banned or reimagining the sport of dressage as a rehearsal for horses to become house burglars, Izzard’s invention and energy never flag throughout his hour-and-40-minute set. He’s particularly good at mining the nonverbal for laughs, or more properly the near-verbal, as several of his bits depend on his uncanny knack for turning grunts into dialogue. He’s also got a great cast of characters, including a friendly shark that is not to be trusted and unexpected versions of both God and Darth Vader. The comedian himself is the first to recognize when things don’t go over, as when he stopped everything to write on his hand as though it were a pad, “Note to self: Opera jokes do not work in Santa Barbara.”