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June 5, 2014

British comic uses historical humor for crowd-pleaser

By Aaron Cutteridge

Playouse Square was the sight of Eddie Izzard’s May 30 performance on his international, multi-lingual, side-splitting, thought-provoking ‘Force Majeure’ tour.

Izzard employs a method of humor where he will work off an actual historical event and then craft a humorous, and at times more accurate, depiction of that event.

In a whirlwind of movement, sound and flamboyant movements to add emphasis to a particular bit, Izzard had the near-capacity crowd at the Palace Theatre laughing for two one-hour performances with a 15-minute intermission.

Izzard’s connection to the audience was immediate when he opened his show talking about Cleveland and the sadness that there is only one taxi in Cleveland. He told of his journey to SHA-grin (Chagrin) to get his nails done before the show, yet couldn’t find a cab, until a fellow named ‘Calvin’ arrived to take him to the salon.

After having his nails done at the salon, which he praised highly for the wonderful work he was prepared to return to where he was staying and waited for another taxi, and waited, and waited, and when it finally arrived, it was ‘Calvin’ again, to Izzard’s surprise.

He did suggest that if anyone in the audience had any ties to the city of Cleveland they may want to suggest splurging on a second taxi, which brought a thunderous laugh.

The connection was secure between Izzard and the Cleveland audience who enjoy comical tales about their city, having a personal connection to many of those tales.

The art form of human sacrifice, God and Darth Vader dueling in a cantina over a plate of spaghetti carbonara, Caesar’s eventual downfall to becoming a famous salad and a ‘cigarette version’ of how “The Lord of the Rings” would have been portrayed were some of the many bits Izzard shared.

Izzard was discovered in the early 1990’s after appearing on the Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry variety show, popular in England. After that success, Izzard decided to attempt a one-man stand-up show and became a success. Izzard’s massive ‘Force Majeure’ tour will span 25 countries on five continents including a five month stretch in the United States.

The conversational but fast-paced nature of Izzard’s delivery was a welcome difference from many comedians in the industry. Izzard has never been the type of comedian who needs to yell his routine or scream at a particular part of a bit to emphasize a point for a punch line.

Izzard refers to himself as an ‘action-transvestite’. He is an enormous fan of action movies and is a straight-transvestite. He has often performed in drag but did not this evening.

Many of Izzard’s punch lines are delivered with an almost anti-climatic trailing-off of words and his set-up to the punch line and ensuing payoff to that set-up are how he brings the laughs from the audience.

The ridiculous nature of horse dressage in the Olympics was the bookend that closed the night as Izzard played off the silly nature in how the horses dance around and the incomprehensible scoring method and the fact that no one watching has any idea of what is going on.

Izzard’s answer to making dressage more interesting to make them do something like break in a house and open a safe during the routine and everyone would want to see that.

A standing ovation from the audience as Izzard bowed multiple times concluded the festivities as the energy in the crowd was still buzzing from being taken into Izzard’s audacious world for two hours and coming out on the other side smarter and a little sore in the side from laughing non-stop.

The international appeal of Izzard will be one display on June 6 in Normandy when he performs three separate times in English, German and French in honor of the three countries involved in the D-Day Invasion from World War II.