20 Nov 2013

[Review] - Eddie Izzard: Force Majeure

It's always nice to hear intelligent people speak on absurd topics, and Eddie Izzard is pretty much the king of that particular mountain. While the pseudo-titles - the lost Python, action transvestite, Jeff -  are liberally applied, the long and the short of it is, here is a man at the peak of his game, at the top of his field, speaking to sell out arena audiences about deep, philosophical ideas and the occasional lightsaber battle between Darth Vader and God. In French.

With his intentions to run for Lord Mayor of London in 2020, Force Majeure maybe be one of the last comedy tours he makes for some time, and happily he has marked this occasion by not at all changing. Hit the jump for the (very) brief review, which has a coat rack on it's head, and it's hunky-dory.

I would love to see two of Izzard's shows in a row, just to compare his talking points. Where the show is structured, and where his stream of consciousness takes over and enacts the run-on scenarios that have become one of his many trademarks. Watching, you can usually get a pretty good idea, and in all honesty it's probably best to catch a show towards the end of the tour, after he's tested his various tangents and knows what works best. Of course, he's old hat at this, so when a bit about a mole striking gold falls a little flat, he knows how to bring the audience back to the bit.

Force Majeure has a theme, and it's simple: there is no God. An inflammatory concept, though one you probably would expect going in (which he draws attention to at some point). But straight from go, he's discussing the bizarreness of human sacrifice, the Divine rule of Charles I, the crimes and brutality done in the name of higher beings, and Liam Neeson as Zeus. And plenty of unlucky blokes called Steve. More than enough room to also work in thoughts about drug use in sport, remembrances about childhood days at school and the best damned adaptation of Lord of the Rings I've ever heard. It's the spaghetti method of comedy, and damned if everything doesn't stick.

And it's always a good sign when the comedian can surprise themselves, finding themselves on a path they didn't expect and bring the show to a brief halt as they laugh along with us. In the case of the show I saw, it was a song and dance number about spider's legs that came at Izzard from behind, and took him on a bit of a trip, resulting in his having to consult the audience about when he lost the track. Despite a portion of the show musing on the concept of the ego and pride, Izzard seems only to be a humble and thankful man. After this show, at an unexpected Q&A, he sat, legs hung over the edge of the stage, fielding questions from the gallery, with an intimacy and earnestness and thankfulness that you don't usually see in an arena-calibre performer.

There isn't much more to say. Izzard was his reliable self, providing the audience with a solid and nearly unrelenting two hours of comedy gold, the sort that can't be adequately described to anyone who wasn't also there. Izzard doesn't traffic in jokes, he traffics in concept. In absurdities, and information. He plays with our perceptions and assumes a level of knowledge going in (otherwise, a running joke about the word autodidact wouldn't have landed every time). The sort of performance that can carry on in great stretches in French or German and never miss a beat, or can fumble over a brain fart and have everything unfold better than if he stuck to the ever changing script in his head. And the only man who can get away with as many Nazi jokes per hour as he does. And, hopefully, you learn just enough during the show to go home and fact check what he said on Wikipedia afterwards.

1 comment:

  1. Wendy18 May 2014 at 23:20

    We just came out of his final NYC gig at the Beacon Theater, totally packed. Lucky to have up close seats it was amazing to be in the presence of such pure genius!


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