After performing three sold-out shows at Radio City Music Hall (that’s 18,000 comedy fans), Eddie Izzard had a hotel rooftop party to celebrate with both his U.K. and U.S. representatives Sunday night and into Monday morning (including a birthday cake for his U.K. manager, Chiggy!). Izzard flew back to London afterward for a brief holiday before his Stripped tour resumes July 11 in Seattle and continues through August on the West Coast. Buy tickets here.
Izzard gives an energetic two-hour performance without opener or intermission. He bounces up and down throughout. Is this a holdover from his workshopping, which took place on an actual bouncy floor? No. More likely it’s a matter of Izzard’s actual stage presence. The backdrop presents a massive cave with sketches in ancient languages and a window with two bars that looks out onto a changing view — first, blue sky, then a sun rises from left to right, then a giant eyeball, later stars burst from the eye, which changes colors several times, then a moon and stars. Izzard never addresses it or refers to the backdrop in any way. Afterward, he told me that he liked how the set could be interpreted in different ways, referring to it as "a prison of the mind" and wondering who the eyeball belongs to, anyhow? Is it you? Me? God?
Of course, Izzard lets the audience knows how he feels about God, Creationism, and the Bible. Going after Noah and the ark and Moses and the Ten Commandments may feel like easy marks for a comedian, but Izzard saves the former bit with a story about a giant squid providing commentary from the ark’s bathroom.
Oh, in case you’re wondering, still no dress or heels for Izzard onstage, though he does wear makeup and talk about giving makeup advice, and clowns. He addresses the transvestite issue fairly clearly. And his coat does have tails, so that counts for something. Moving on.
He suggests the first line of the Bible, if God wants us to know what’s going on, should really be: "It’s round." That line, which returns later in the show, allows Izzard to deftly weave in his jokes about our football and your football. The show continues to trace the Earth’s history from 4.5 billion years ago through the dinosaurs to the Stone Age to the new Stone Age, with funny act-outs proving that dinosaurs could never have gone to church and how hunting buffalo must have been much more difficult without hunting tools. Izzard clearly loves gibberish and noises. He puts both to great impact in two major set-pieces that have been mainstays of this routine for the past year — giraffes trying to warn each other of a tiger attack by coughing, and Romans trying to warn each other of an attack by Hannibal using their tricky sense of Latin tenses. Izzard plays with language, whether it’s in these scenes he depicts, the mocking of the Vikings for bringing us words such as "yacht" or the idea of hashashinations. It’s all quite silly and playful. Perhaps that’s indeed the message.
And you don’t see this every day: After a brief encore, Izzard ran up and down the sides of the stage at Radio City Music Hall to thank the audience.