A version of this column appears in Friday’s Weekend Life section of The Oklahoman.
Eddie Izzard proves a ‘Force’ to be reckoned with in Oklahoma tour stop
British comedian Eddie Izzard brought his brainy, oddball humor to the Sooner State on his worldwide “Force Majeure” tour, which is wrapping its U.S. trek through all 50 states in Texas after packed Midwest City and Tulsa shows.
Whether he is cracking wise about the Magna Carta or reimagining Marc Antony as a chicken with robotic legs, Eddie Izzard has found that his brainy, oddball humor is nonetheless universal.
“My show stays exactly the same. Well, I try to make it the exactly same. It’s pretty much exactly the same, so Moscow was laughing at the same jokes as Oklahoma City,” Izzard said in a question-and-answer session Saturday night after his sold-out show at the Rose State Performing Arts Theater in Midwest City
After playing packed shows last weekend in Midwest City and at Tulsa’s Brady Theater, the British actor/comedian is wrapping the U.S. leg of his worldwide “Force Majeure” standup tour with a series of Texas dates, culminating Wednesday with a show at the Majestic Theatre in San Antonio.
His “Force Majeure” is billed as the most extensive comedy tour ever. Launched in March of 2013, it has taken the Emmy winner to 25 countries on five continents, through Europe, Africa, Russia, the U.K., Canada, India, Nepal, The Far East, Australia and all 50 of the United States.
The last time Izzard, 52, came to the Southwest U.S., for 2008’s hilarious “Stripped” tour, my husband and I had to go to Austin, Texas, to catch the show. It was much more fun to just hop across I-40 for “Force Majeure” (which means “force of nature” or “act of God”), especially since it’s arguably Izzard’s best standup show since his 2000 breakout “Dress to Kill.”
In his signature canny but rambling style, he wonders aloud about the origins of dressage, makes an unlikely connection between King Charles I and King Charles Spaniels and demonstrates the similarities between the Welsh and Indian accents. No comedian does callbacks like Eddie, and his “Force Majeure” show doesn’t just uproariously revisit jokes (especially that surreal Marc Antony the chicken gag), he also provides a side-splitting highlight with his sequel to his “Death Star Canteen” bit from his 2002 comedy DVD “Circle.”
From human sacrifices and gold-digging moles to Richard the Lionheart and “Lord of the Rings,” Izzard, who was born in Yemen, raised in the U.K. and now makes his home in London, reaffirms that no one is better at finding the absurdist humor in history, mythology, popular culture and just plain random observations. You don’t have to agree with all his conclusions — I certainly don’t — to laugh until your face hurts. One of the central and most encouraging themes of Izzard’s humor is that extremists may be loud, but they are a minority in this world.
To his credit, Izzard seems determined to use his gift for global comedy for good: On June 6, he staged back-to-back-to-back performances — one in English, another in French and another in German — in Normandy to mark the 70th anniversary of D-Day, with proceeds going to charity. Already well-known for translating his comedy to French when in France, he also performed entirely in German during his tour stops in Germany.
In his Midwest City Q&A, Izzard said he is beginning to add Spanish to his repertoire and wants to learn Russian and Arabic next. He revealed he uses his standup routines to help him learn each new language; as he did with his Emmy-winning HBO “Dress to Kill” special, he starts out doing the end of the show in a different language — in that case, it was French — and eventually coverts the entire performance.
Izzard isn’t just racking up languages and tour stops: He has steadily expanded his acting career to include television, theater and film. On TV, he recently guest-starred in the NBC series “Hannibal,” starred in and served as a producer on the gone-too-soon FX show “The Riches” and appeared in the final season of Showtime’s “United States of Tara.” He earned a 2003 Tony nomination for best actor in his Broadway debut in the revival of “A Day in the Death of Joe Egg” and starred in a BBC TV adaptation of the drama.
To add to his growing big-screen credits, the lifelong movie buff recently finished filming the drama “Boychoir,” opposite Dustin Hoffman and Kathy Bates; he is lending his voice to the animated picture “Rock Dog”; and his British World War II biopic “Castles in the Sky,” in which he stars as pioneering radar scientist Robert Watson Watt, is playing this week at the Edinburgh International Film Festival in Scotland.
Despite his burgeoning career as an entertainer, Izzard reaffirmed in his Oklahoma City-area Q&A that he plans to go into politics.
“I am going to run for either mayor of London or a member of Parliament in 2020,” he told his cheering Oklahoma fans. “So I figure I’ve got about six years of this left. Well, five years; I’m not sure how that last year’s going to go.”
Better catch him while you can.