Increasingly, after years of fandom, the thing that most impresses me about Eddie is not his wit. It’s the single bloody mindedness with which he approaches everything. He’s taught himself comedy on the streets of Camden to become a fracking phenomenon. He’s a stocky trans person who’s forced Hollywood to accept him. He ran 43 marathons in 50 days on six weeks of training (translation: no training.) He can do anything he believes he can do, and he believes he can do anything.
Postscript: I was glad to get to see this movie in NYC while we were there. It contains some amazing footage of his early act and peers, street performances, and standup, information about his comedy club in the West End, and also some recent backstage footage of his prep and method (and lots of loving shots of sponsor M.A.C. cosmetics). What again impresses me about Eddie is the many times he tried, and failed, to be the world’s best standup comedian, until the time he succeeded. People call him a genius, and maybe he is, but he’s a genius covered in scars and bruises from the many times he threw himself at the wall and didn’t stick. He’s my goddamned hero.
I am happy to report I got to see my hero, Eddie Izzard, do a show in Seattle last weekend. I was surprised that the ever-helpful Seattle Stranger curiously promoted the (sold-out) show as being titled “Work in Progress”, as it actually was a work in progress. No merch, no tour, no makeup or Uma Thurman breasts (which Wikipedia claims his Sexie rack was modeled from). This set had ramblings about history, language, war, 300, sharks, Wikipedia, Alien, and a fly that hit him in the face onstage. If it sounds like established Eddie, it is, but with new directions, ideas and punchlines, and further honing of his own Eddie-ness.
He got a little upset at the PNW tendency of the crowd to scream “WHOO!” at random times, “stemming his flow”, but I hope that he understood on some level that we are just so filled with love for him that it occasionally escapes our bodies with a high-pitched “woo” noise. I was so excited that I didn’t have to fly to El Lay to see one of these, I didn’t mind driving from Portland and back in 24 hours.
I had to get back to town to do a comedy workshop with the guy who books for Letterman, veteran comedy scenester Eddie Brill. It was super-great and educational, and he told me about visiting a comedy club that Eddie Izzard ran in London, which may be called Screaming Blue Murder, and I didn’t know ever existed. After spending the day working on my act with him, I now feel free to drop his name at every opportunity. Example: “Well, as my good personal friend Eddie Brill, Letterman’s comedy booker, says: I’d love a Grande Soy Latte.”
Update: A couple of years later, Eddie Brill lost his job booking for Letterman because when asked why there had only been 8 female comics in the history of the show, he said that those were the only women who were funny. He did hundreds of these comedy workshops, and none of those comics ever got booked on Letterman. Later, Letterman retired, one day we will all be dead, etc.