The lost Python ready to wind up T.O.

Ac­claimed Bri­tish co­me­dian in­cludes four nights at Massey Hall as part of mas­sive in­ter­na­tional tour

Richmond Hill Post - - Comedy Profile - by David Pater­son

The ti­tle of Bri­tish co­me­dian Ed­die Iz­zard’s globe-trot­ting tour, Force Ma­jeure, trans­lates from French into some­thing like “su­pe­rior force” or “act of God.” It’s a ref­er­ence to the two or three mil­len­nia’s worth of deities that Iz­zard draws upon as inspiratio­n for his show. But when he gets on­stage at Massey Hall later this month, the sur­re­al­ist stand-up may find it’s his jokes about more worldly mat­ters that strike a chord with au­di­ences in this city. Iz­zard is a well-known co­me­dian, ac­tor and writer who has ap­peared on­stage and on screen in the United King­dom since the early ’80s. He has ap­peared in such movies as Ocean’s Twelve, Ocean’s Thir­teen and Mys­tery Men, among oth­ers.

I meet Iz­zard in the carefully crafted rus­tic el­e­gance of Soho House on Ade­laide Street. He is dressed in a dark suit, and the only hint of his fa­mous transvesti­sm are his fin­ger­nails, which are painted deep red ex­cept for one on each hand that bears the flags of Great Bri­tain and the Euro­pean Union.

Tak­ing in 25 coun­tries, Iz­zard’s global trek is be­ing billed as the most ex­ten­sive com­edy tour ever. Not that any­one has ac­tu­ally fact-checked that claim. “I go around claim­ing things un­til some­one dis­proves me,” he says.

Iz­zard’s com­edy has been com­pared to that of the 1970s Bri­tish troupe Monty Python, which he ad­mits has been help­ful in con­nect­ing with au­di­ences in places such as the United States where he toured in 2011 and played the 17,000-seat Hol­ly­wood Bowl. John Cleese once re­ferred to him as the “lost Python,” and Iz­zard says Python had a ma­jor in­flu­ence on his com­edy.

“I’m as­sum­ing an in­tel­li­gence, which is what Python did. So I just stole ev­ery­thing that Python gave to me and I turned that into my standup. I’m re­ally just do­ing Monty Python.”

In per­son, Iz­zard’s man­ner of speaking is sim­i­lar to his ram­bling on­stage de­liv­ery. He seems to pile words and ideas into sen­tences un­til they can take no more, burst at the seams and pro­pel him off on a de­light­ful tan­gent. He also has a habit of break­ing off into French, when the mood takes him, a hang­over from his three-month res­i­dency at a theatre in Paris, France.

In mat­ters un­re­lated to gram­mar, how­ever, Iz­zard demon­strates an al­most ter­ri­fy­ing de­ter­mi­na­tion to see things through. In 2009, de­spite his pre­vi­ous sport­ing ex­pe­ri­ence be­ing largely limited to a pas­sion for Lon­don’s Crys­tal Palace soc­cer club, he de­cided to run 43 marathons in 51 days to raise money for Sport Re­lief, a char­ity run by the Bri­tish Broad­cast­ing Cor­po­ra­tion. He raised £200,000 (about $330,000) but lost more than a few toe­nails along the way. His Force Ma­jeure tour ap­pears to be another gi­ant slog. So why do it?

“Ego. Fun. Ad­ven­ture. Cash, to a cer­tain ex­tent,” he says.

In re­cent years, Iz­zard has be­come in­creas­ingly out­spo­ken on pol­i­tics. A long­time sup­porter of Bri­tain’s left­lean­ing Labour party, in Septem­ber he told the party’s an­nual con­fer­ence that he wants to run for mayor of Lon­don in 2020.

Al­though he is cur­rently in what he calls “boy mode,” Iz­zard is fa­mously open about his transvesti­sm, and suc­cess at the bal­lot box would raise the al­lur­ingly sur­real pos­si­bil­ity of a dude in a dress run­ning one of the world’s great­est cities.

“I feel I have en­ergy. I feel I think in dif­fer­ent ways,” he says.

“I did tell ev­ery­one I was a trans­ves­tite way be­fore it be­came this very cool thing — ac­tu­ally, it still hasn’t be­come a cool thing — but, you know, I told ev­ery­one be­cause I thought this is the right thing.”

Per­haps, when he is in town, Iz­zard should con­sider stop­ping by City Hall for some cam­paign­ing tips from our own con­ven­tion-de­fy­ing mayor. It would cer­tainly make for an in­ter­est­ing con­ver­sa­tion.

Iz­zard plays Massey Hall Nov. 13 to 16. Tick­ets $44.25 to $73.50.

Co­me­dian Ed­die Iz­zard, the fu­ture mayor of Lon­don?

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