Eddie Izzard

Izzard was born in Aden, Yemen, the youngest son of British parents Dorothy Ella, a midwife and nurse, and Harold John Izzard, an accountant who was working in Aden with British Petroleum.[3][4] A year after his birth, Izzard's family moved to Bangor in Northern Ireland[5] and lived there until Eddie was five. His mother died of cancer in March 1968, when Izzard was only 6 and his brother Mark was 8. After an education at St Bede's Preparatory School and at Eastbourne College, he began to toy with stand-up at the University of Sheffield and, after being ingloriously kicked off his accountancy degree course, he took his act into the streets. Having spent a great deal of the 1980s working as a street performer in Europe and the United States, Izzard moved his act into the stand-up comedy venues of Britain, first appearing at The Comedy Store in London in 1987. He refined his material throughout the '80s, and in the early '90s he finally began earning some measure of recognition, though not in the guise in which he would later become famous.

Success as a comedian

His stand-up work brought him British Comedy Awards in 1993 (for Live at the Ambassadors) and 1996 (for Definite Article). After the British leg of the tour, he took Definite Article to major cities outside the UK including a successful stint in New York City. However, his U.S. breakthrough did not really come until 1999, when Dress to Kill was shown on the American television channel HBO, about a year or so after he performed the show on tour in the U.S., the U.K. and France (that same year, he played a supporting role in the movie Mystery Men). Suddenly, America was aware of Izzard, and the show went on to earn him two Emmy Awards in 2000 (for performance and writing). However, he only rarely performs his stand-up act on television, as he says it uses up material at too high a rate whereas stage material can be continually re-used in front of different audiences for several months.

In 2005, Izzard provided the voiceover (again, in his unique 'rambling' style) for the British government's series of television advertisements promoting recycling. The tagline of the ads was "Recycle. The possibilities are endless!"

In January 2006, the U.S. television network FX announced the production of a new drama series co-written by Izzard called The Riches (formerly Low Life). Izzard and British actress Minnie Driver star as a married couple, Wayne and Dahlia Malloy, who have been part of a caravan of con-artist Irish travellers swindling their way across the U.S. with their children. After finding another family killed in a car accident, the Malloys assume their identities and start a new life as law-abiding suburbanites in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The youngest son has shown a preference for wearing girls' clothing, leading to some speculation that the role was based upon Izzard's experiences. Izzard has stated in several interviews that the character of Sam had been given transvestite tendencies long before he was cast as Wayne Malloy, but he has contributed his perspective to keep the character believable.

Izzard also performed with Scottish musician Midge Ure at Live8 in Edinburgh, Scotland. He played the piano accompaniment for the song "Vienna".

Theatrical appearances

In 1994, Izzard made his West End drama debut as the lead in the world premiere of David Mamet's The Cryptogram with Lindsay Duncan, in the production at London's Comedy Theatre. The success of that role led to his second starring role in David Beaird's black comedy 900 Oneonta. In 1995, he portrayed the title character in Christopher Marlowe's Edward II."

Izzard portrayed comedian Lenny Bruce in the 1999 production of Julian Barry's 1971 play Lenny. In 2001, he replaced Clive Owen in Peter Nichols' 1967 play A Day in the Death of Joe Egg at the Comedy Theatre. Izzard and Victoria Hamilton then repeated their lead roles when the show was brought to Broadway in 2003, with The Roundabout Theatre Company production. The revival received four Tony Award nominations including Best Revival of a Play, Best Leading Actor and Actress for its stars Izzard and Hamilton in their Broadway debuts, and Best Direction for Laurence Boswell.

Film appearances
The Avengers (1998) as Bailey
Velvet Goldmine (1998) as Jerry Devine
Mystery Men (1999) as Tony P.
Shadow of the Vampire (2000) as Gustav von Wangenheim
Circus (2000) as Troy
The Cat's Meow (2001) as Charlie Chaplin
All the Queen's Men (2001)
Revengers Tragedy (2002) as Lussurioso
Ocean's Twelve (2004) as Roman Nagel
My Super Ex-Girlfriend (2006) as Professor Bedlam
Ocean's Thirteen (2007) as Roman Nagel
Across the Universe (2007) as Mr. Kite
Valkyrie (2008) as General Erich Fellgiebel

His voice-acting performances include the Narnian mouse knight Reepicheep in The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, the voice of "It", a mythical sand fairy, in the film Five Children and It, and Dr. Schadenfreude in Igor.

Comic style

Izzard's style is heavily influenced by Monty Python, especially in his use of a stream-of-consciousness delivery that jumps between topics as he free associates on stage. He does not generally work from a script, owing to his dyslexia. Instead, he interrupts himself with new joke ideas, the characters he portrays turn into other characters, and he nonchalantly leaps from historical analysis to musings about household appliances. This often results in brief pauses in the routine which he fills with 'so, yeah,' and other verbal tics that have become his trademarks. Thinking aloud is also part of Izzard's ongoing attempt to make the process of writing the show itself part of the humour. As he put it in a 2004 interview with The Guardian, "It's the oral tradition. Human beings have been doing it for thousands of years".[6] He frequently notes the reaction to a joke midstream by miming writing on his hand ("should be funnier" or "lost them there"), asks the audience questions, and verbally engages with hecklers.

Among Izzard's comic talents are mimicry and mime. He portrays God as a bumbling authority figure using the voice of James Mason, and John F. Kennedy and Noah as Sean Connery, impersonations of whom appear in all of his performances. Izzard also imitates activities such as sawing wood, vacuuming, and mowing the lawn, anthropomorphizing the machines with accents and personalities. Successful impressions, such as his Scottish clarinet teacher, Mrs. Badcrumble, become running gags which recur in different shows. He tackles topics both contemporary and historic, including frequent re-imaginings of historical events which result in scenes like 'Cake or Death: Church of England runs the Inquisition,' or 'Jesus Ministers to the Dinosaurs.' When asked about his comedy style by George Stroumboulopoulos, host of CBC Television's talk show, The Hour, Izzard described his use of history by saying,

"I just talk complete bullshit. The history, the politics, I noticed that no one was using history, so there's a lot of history lying about the place, and it's all free, and it's on Wikipedia! You know, I use Wikipedia like a crazy idiot, now. Then I take all this stuff, and I regurgitate it into a weird angle".[7]

In 2008, in his Stripped tour, Izzard began using Wikipedia itself as part of his stand-up act, reading from a live copy of an article (via an iPhone) and mocking Wikipedia's self-referential editorial style. To date, he has read from a variety of different articles.

Although much of his humour deals with sensitive issues, with special emphasis on religion, it has generally not been intended as mean-spirited or rude. Izzard, however, took a different tone in 2008's "Stripped" tour. Professing that he had learned he was an atheist, he explains that he doesn't like the word "worship" because he doesn't see why anyone would want to worship someone who had "fucked the whole thing up from the beginning." The show's theme was an apologetic, humorous presentation on how one can see that there's no God.

Traditionally, Izzard has focused on the creative possibilities of thinking through absurd situations in real time. He also turns much of the attention on himself and his personality, including his cross-dressing ("it is my manifest destiny to wear a dress on all seven continents"). Contemporary pop culture (Harry Potter, Star Wars, etc.), is also a frequent subject, brought up both to critique its weaknesses and to enhance his anecdotes.

His bent towards the surreal even went so far as to produce a sitcom called Cows in 1997 for Channel 4, a live action comedy with actors dressed in cowsuits.[8]


Eddie Izzard performing Sexie

Izzard describes himself as an "executive", "action" and "underground" transvestite, as "a male tomboy" or "male lesbian" rather than a "weirdo" transvestite (he cites J. Edgar Hoover as an example of the latter) or drag queen. He regularly cross-dresses both on and off stage and makes it clear that cross-dressing is, for him, neither a part of his performance nor a sexual thing — he simply enjoys wearing make-up and clothing that is traditionally perceived in the West as female-only. He remarks in one of his shows, "Women wear what they want and so do I." According to Izzard, "Most transvestites fancy women." He dismisses claims that he is a male homosexual, saying he is either a straight transvestite or a "male lesbian." He has also described himself as "a lesbian trapped in a man's body,"[9] transgender,[10] and "a complete boy plus half a girl."[11]

Often describing his "breast envy," Izzard, after shooting the film The Avengers, occasionally wears a pair of false breasts, reputedly[citation needed] modelled on co-star Uma Thurman's own breasts. These were intended for Thurman's body double to use.


Izzard has engaged in campaigning work. He is especially well-known as a pro-European Union campaigner supporting the further integration of the UK into the EU. In May 2005 he appeared on the BBC's political debate show Question Time, describing himself as a 'British-European', comparing this with other cultural identities such as 'African-American'. As part of his integration campaigning, he was one of the first people to spend a euro in London. This pan-European approach has influenced his work: he regularly performs in French, an acquired language, and occasionally in German, in addition to English.

In July 2003, Izzard received an honorary Doctor of Letters by the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England for "pro-Europe campaigning", "his contribution to promoting modern languages and tolerance of other cultures and lifestyles" and for having "transcended national barriers" with his humour.[12]

He has also campaigned unsuccessfully against the closure of the departments of Drama and Languages, Linguistics and Translation at the University of East Anglia.

He appeared in a 2005 party political broadcast for the UK Labour Party in the run up to the 2005 general election. He donated nearly £10,000 to the party in 2008.[13]

On 20 July 2006, he received an honorary doctorate in Letters from the Faculty of Arts at the University of Sheffield,[14] where he spent one year on an Accounting and Financial Management course in the early 80s. During his time at the University he established the now-defunct Alternative Productions Society in the Union of Students with the aim of promoting fringe-based arts.

On 7 July 2007, Izzard was one of the presenters from the London leg of Live Earth.

During an interview for the 2008 Stripped tour, Izzard spoke about becoming more active in European politics as well as running for political office in Europe within the next decade.

During his 2008 Stripped tour, Izzard added a stop in New Orleans. All proceeds from the June 23rd, 2008 performance were donated to Neighborhood Housing Services of New Orleans.[15]

Critical reception

On 18 March 2007, Izzard was listed as number 3 of the 100 Greatest Comedians (just behind Peter Kay at number 2 and Billy Connolly at number 1) as part of Channel 4's ongoing 100 Greatest... series.[16] In a 2005 poll to find The Comedian's Comedian, Izzard was voted amongst the top 20 greatest comedy acts ever by fellow comedians and comedy insiders. He was number 75 in Comedy Central's 100 Greatest Stand-ups of All Time. During the 1999 television special It's... the Monty Python Story,[17] which Izzard hosted, John Cleese said Izzard was the "Lost Python"; Izzard furthered that idea via his substitution for Graham Chapman in public performance of Python material with the rest of the original members of the troupe. In 2008, Izzard received the James Joyce Award of the Literary and Historical Society.

Discography and appearances[edit]
Live at the Ambassadors (1993)
Unrepeatable (1994)
Definite Article (1996)
Glorious (1997)
Dress to Kill (1998)
Circle (2000)
Sexie (2003)
Stripped (2008/2009)
900 Oneonta (1994)
Edward II (1995)
Lenny (1999)
The Cryptogram (1994)
A Day in the Death of Joe Egg (2001-2002, 2003)
Trumbo (2003)
The Secret Agent (1996) as Vladimir
Velvet Goldmine (1998) as Jerry Devine
The Avengers (1998) as Bailey
Mystery Men (1999) as Tony P
The Criminal (1999) as Peter Hume
Circus (2000) as Troy
Shadow of the Vampire (2000) as Gustav von Wangenheim
The Cat's Meow (2001) as Charlie Chaplin
All the Queen's Men (2001) as Tony Parker
Revengers Tragedy (2002) as Lussurioso
Blueberry aka Renegade (2004) as Prosit
Five Children and It (2004) as It (voice)
Romance & Cigarettes (2004) as Gene Vincent
Ocean's Twelve (2004) as Roman Nagel
The Aristocrats (2005) as Himself
The Wild (2006) as (voice) Nigel
My Super Ex-Girlfriend (2006) as Professor Bedlam
Ocean's Thirteen (2007) as Roman Nagel
Across the Universe (2007) as Mr. Kite
The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian (2008) as Reepicheep (voice)
Igor (2008) as Dr. Schadenfreude (voice)
Valkyrie (2008) as Erich Fellgiebel [edit]
Upcoming films
Every Day (2009) as Garrett
The Other Side (2009) as Dean Bellamy
Rage (2009) as Tiny Diamonds
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (2010) as Reepicheep (voice)
TV appearances
Barf Bites Back (Amnesty International Gala) (1991) - ITV
Open Fire (1994)
Have I Got News for You (1994, 1995 and 1996) - BBC Two
Aristophanes: The Gods are Laughing (1995)
Whose Line Is It Anyway? (1995)
Tales from the Crypt (1996) - HBO
Clive Anderson Talks Back (1996)
Inspector Derrick (1997)
Roseanne Barr Show (1998)
Rex the Runt (1998) - BBC
Shooting Stars (1998) - BBC
Parkinson (3 times)
Dennis Miller Live (1999) - HBO
Pythonland (1999) - BBC
Python Night (1999) - BBC
Mongrel Nation (2002) - Discovery Channel
The Caroline Rhea Show (2002)
The Tonight Show with Jay Leno (2002, 2004 and 2007)
40 (2003) - Channel 4
Conan O'Brien (2003, 2008) NBC
QI (Unaired pilot- 2002 or 2003)
Top Gear (2004) - BBC Two
Last Call with Carson Daly (2005)
The Sharon Osbourne Show (2006)
Late Show with David Letterman (6 times)
Late Late show with Craig Kilborn (4 times)
The Late Late Show (CBS TV series) with Craig Ferguson (2006, 2008, 2009)
The Henry Rollins Show (2006)
The Paul O'Grady Show (2009)
The Secret Policeman's Ball (2006)
Kitchen (2007) - five
Comedy Cuts (interview) (2007)
The Hour (2007)
Friday Night with Jonathan Ross (2007 and 2009)
The Daily Show (2000, 2003 and 2007)
The Riches (2007-2008)
The Secret Policeman's Ball (2008)
Graham Norton: Uncut (2008)

Future Projects

Jason Priestley is BBC-bound with Vanessa Redgrave and Joely Richardson. They'll be joined by Dougray Scott, Brian Cox and Eddie Izzard in the BBC science fiction miniseries "The Day of the Triffids," based on the 1951 novel.[18]Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Alan Bates
for Fortune's Fool Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actor in a Play
for A Day in the Death of Joe Egg Succeeded by
Kevin Kline
for Henry IV

See also
Cross-dressing in film and television

^ "Eddie Izzard: 'We need Europe to be a melting-pot. We need to melt'". News.independent.co.uk. 2006-05-16. Retrieved on 2009-04-17.
^ Chris Roberts, Heavy Words Lightly Thrown: The Reason Behind Rhyme, Thorndike Press,2006 (ISBN 0-7862-8517-6)
^ "Eddie Izzard Biography (1962-)". Filmreference.com. Retrieved on 2009-04-17.
^ James, Caryn (2008-03-16). "Eddie Izzard's Master Plan". New York Times (The New York Times Company). Retrieved on 2008-04-18.
^ "Biography / Eddie Izzard". Eddieizzard.com. Retrieved on 2009-04-17.
^ "'Mentally, I'm all boy - plus extra girl' | | guardian.co.uk Arts". Guardian. Retrieved on 2009-04-17.
^ The Hour [TV-Series]. Canada: CBC Television. Event occurs at 7m.
^ "cake or death: an eddie izzard site :: the biography". Auntiemomo.com. Retrieved on 2009-04-17.
^ Comic Izzard promoting life story, BBC News (May 17, 2004. Retrieved on November 22, 2008.
^ Garfield, Simon. Frock tactics, The Observer (May 27, 2001). Retrieved on November 22, 2008.
^ "Eddie Izzard: The tough transvestite who can take care of himself", The Independent, 23 May 2004, retrieved on 2008-11-22
^ "University of East Anglia: Events and News: Eddie Izzard". 2007. Retrieved on 2008-03-26.
^ "Feature: Political celebrities". Politics.co.uk. Retrieved on 2009-04-17.
^ "Latest News". Shef.ac.uk. Retrieved on 2009-04-17.
^ "Eddie Izzard Adds New Orleans to Tour; Show to Benefit Housing Services - St. Tammany Art Association - NorthShoreNOLA - NOLA.com". Blog.nola.com. 2008-06-10. Retrieved on 2009-04-17.
^ "100 Greatest Comedy Stand-ups vote from". channel4.com. Retrieved on 2009-04-17.
^ "It's... the Monty Python Story (1999) (TV)". Imdb.com. Retrieved on 2009-04-17.
^ Last Updated: 2:56PM GMT 11 Feb 2009 (2009-02-11). "Vanessa Redgrave to star in BBC's The Day of the Triffids". Telegraph. Retrieved on 2009-04-17.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eddie_Izzard