by Jeff Niesel
There might not be a comic currently working the circuit who has more international appeal than Eddie Izzard. The history-obsessed Brit is currently on a tour that will take him to some 25 countries. He’s in the midst of playing 51 shows in 32 cities in 63 days and performs tonight at the Palace Theatre.
“I want to play all 50 states,” he says via phone from a Boston tour stop. “If you’re doing anything creative, you’re trying to create a bit of noise and excitement. That’s why I do gigs in multiple languages and run the marathons. It all adds to making it a circus coming to town. I’m always trying to move forward and go to different places.”
So what about the show translates so well to such different audiences?
“The trick that I’ve done is make all the comedy universal,” he says. “All you have to do is drop your national references. You can use them but you have to explain them. If I’m talking about human sacrifice and medieval kings and dinosaurs and Darth Vader and God arguing, people in New York get this and in Moscow they get it. In Auckland, New Zealand and Istanbul, Turkey they get it. You just use universal themes or ideas and it will work all around the world. Force Majeure is a French phrase that means force of nature. I want all people to be their own force of nature to drive themselves through this life we’ve been given.”
He initially tested the show in L.A., San Francisco and New York by doing two shows a night.
“I improvised around my work in progress shows,” he says. “I hit upon the human sacrifice thing because it is a weird thing. Why on earth did we ever decide to kill a human to please god? God has obviously created the human beings. It doesn’t make any sense. I think it was the birth of fascism. That is my argument. I can make a point, talk about it in a silly way but also have a serious underlining thing. Its perfect for my humor.”
One of the smartest comics on the circuit, Izzard is also in the process of prepping for one of his biggest shows ever. On the 70th anniversary of D-Day (6-6-14), he’ll stage a landmark version of Force Majeure in Normandy, France, performing the entire show in German, French, and then English. He previewed that show at Yale’s Whitney Humanities Center Auditorium performing in German, French and English.
“Yes, it’s three shows in three languages in three hours,” he says. “It’s the 70th anniversary of D-Day. It went well. Whatever the host country is I must finish in that language. I was swearing a bit in German in the French hour. It was a little confusing. They dug it and it was cool and groundbreaking, I think. A small handful went to all three show. It will be great when I do it in Normandy. I’m doing it for everyone who fought for democracy since that day and in that war and for everything Germany has done to maintain democracy since then.”
He’s done theater, TV, drama and stand-up comedy. So is there anything left on his bucket list?
“Well, yeah,” he says. “Bucket list — that sounds like you’re about to die. Running marathons has been great. I’d like to do Ironman. I’ve almost done a half Ironman. Politics is coming in 2020 so that’s on the list. It’s not a random list. These are things I really want to do. I’m not going to go and eat a whole bag of spoons or go to the moon on a balloon. I would be like to do a gig in space at the international space station. I could do an English gig and a Russian gig. I thought they all lived together but I guess they don’t, so it’d be nice to make sure everything is happening in a big international way.”