In hys­ter­ics at the Bowl

His time-trav­el­ing, noth­ing-is-sa­cred hu­mor is di­rect and well-honed.

Los Angeles Times - - CALENDAR - RANDALL ROBERTS POP MU­SIC CRITIC randall.roberts@la­ Twit­ter: @liledit

Ed­die Iz­zard, above, is a true force ma­jeure in Hol­ly­wood.

Through­out the washes of guf­faws, chuck­les and hys­ter­ics that ac­com­pa­nied Ed­die Iz­zard’s set on Satur­day night at the Hol­ly­wood Bowl, the Bri­tish co­me­dian, ac­tor, lo­gi­cian and mimic per­formed gym­nas­tic non­se­quitur se­quences and nu­anced phys­i­cal com­edy.

Ap­pear­ing as part of the wind-down of his long-run­ning Force Ma­jeure Tour, the self-de­scribed “ac­tion trans­ves­tite” won­dered on the ef­fec­tive­ness of a high­pitched God, ex­plored the in­tri­ca­cies of his ado­les­cent sex­ual con­fu­sion af­ter get­ting busted for shoplift­ing makeup, time-trav­eled to the mo­ment when poly­the­ism gave way to monothe­ism — and imag­ined it as an ad pitch:

“Do you spend many hours ev­ery day pray­ing to Jeff, the god of sand­wiches, Roger, the god of baked pota­toes, Ken­neth, the god of he­li­copters, and Chavaugh, the god of danger­ous spell­ing?” Iz­zard said. “For one easy prayer ev­ery day, you can pray for he­li­copters, sand­wiches, baked pota­toes and danger­ous spell­ing. Don’t get let down piece­meal by mul­ti­ple gods not an­swer­ing your prayers one by one. Why not get let down in one big go by the Chris­tian god not an­swer­ing your prayers?”

The ver­sa­tile English­man, who is known to film­go­ers for roles in “Vel­vet Gold­mine,” Steven Soder­bergh’s se­ries of “Oceans” heist films and Julie Tay­mor’s “Across the Uni­verse,” made Bowl his­tory in 2011 when he per­formed his ac­claimed show “Stripped.” Iz­zard was the first co­me­dian to present a one-man show af­ter break­ing out of Lon­don in the mid-1990s with a se­ries of per­for­mances with ti­tles that in­cluded “Dress to Kill,” “Cir­cle” and “Sexie.”

Like a long-dis­tance run­ner who takes a few miles to get into his groove, Iz­zard’s brain needed some warm­ing up Satur­day. He started slowly, pac­ing him­self un­til he forged a vir­tual su­per­high­way from his frontal cor­tex to his voice box. What raced out was a rush of un­fil­tered, fully formed para­graphs that hummed with keen author­ity and in­sight.

As with all of his sets, Force Ma­jeure has evolved over the years. The jokes have got­ten sharper, the tim­ing more pre­cise, the pre­sen­ta­tion honed. The com­bi­na­tion has given Iz­zard the power to time-travel.

Wear­ing a well-tai­lored black suit, white shirt, red ker­chief and match­ing nail pol­ish and black heels, Iz­zard adeptly jumped back to the death of Julius Cae­sar as wit­nessed by col­leagues “Cas­sius, Lu­cius, Fab­u­lous, Ve­su­vius, Te­na­cious, Tibia and Fibula, Spat­ula.”

Iz­zard’s not a co­me­dian for those with short at­ten­tion spans. Let your mind wan­der, for ex­am­ple, from his first few thoughts on the be­head­ing of King Charles I in 1649 and you’re prone to be lost for the next few min­utes af­ter he de­scends into a riff on royal ca­nine hair­styles of the time. While you are pon­der­ing the Bowl’s stacked park­ing sys­tem and the night­mare of ex­it­ing, Iz­zard is ex­press­ing frus­tra­tion with his god: “You built a world, you made it round — and you told no one. Your sense of hu­mor is so dry.”

He moved into lin­guis­tics to dis­cuss the def­i­ni­tion of the word “hallelujah.” Iz­zard’s con­clu­sion: It means “yabba dabba do,” and he sug­gested that churchgoers dis­creetly in­tro­duce the phrase into hymns. Delv­ing into the evo­lu­tion of reli­gion, Iz­zard imag­ined the sce­nario sur­round­ing his­tory’s first hu­man sac­ri­fice, one he de­scribed as “log­i­cal be­hav­ior by scared hu­man be­ings try- ing to im­press in­vis­i­ble peo­ple who are be­hav­ing as if they’re not there.”

Iz­zard’s ques­tion: Who was the per­son who came up with the idea? “Look, the crops have failed, the weather is bad. The gods ob­vi­ously hate us. So, yes — let’s kill Steve.” Iz­zard then imag­ined the coitus that would in­evitably oc­cur the first time a priest sug­gested sac­ri­fic­ing vir­gins. “Don’t worry, I’ve got an­other hun­dred out­side, they’re all vir­gins so we can — hey, stop that!”

In­hab­it­ing the brains of li­ons, moles, trouser-thiev- ing “wild dogs who live on the prairie,” and horses as they com­pete in dres­sage com­pe­ti­tions, Iz­zard danced with an easy grace. “Is that horse look­ing for a con­tact lens? Is the horse on drugs? Am I on drugs?”

He set about prov­ing a straight­for­ward ar­gu­ment about moles.

“Gold ex­ists in the ground, yes or no?” The crowd as­sented. “Moles dig in the ground, yes or no?” “Yes!” “There­fore, in the en­tire his­tory of eter­nity, one mole must have at some point struck gold. That must be true.” The crowd clapped at the solid logic, as Iz­zard acted out a mole find­ing a nugget in the ground.

“‘Gold! We’ve struck gold! High-threes, we’re rich!’ The moles would come around, dig their gold out and be­come rich, and buy houses in Bev­erly Hills, and they’d all have chauf­feurs.”

The more so­phis­ti­cated moles might have even di­rected their driv­ers down Mulholland to their Bowl box seats for Force Ma­jeure.

Rick Loomis Los An­ge­les Times

Rick Loomis Los An­ge­les Times

ED­DIE IZ­ZARD per­forms a set that has evolved over the years — jokes sharper, tim­ing more pre­cise.

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