In the 1970s, Monty Python was something new. They introduced sketches to a televised audience, but their comedy was a dry kind, that had a keen sensibility. Just like Lenny Bruce did for standup in the 1960s, Monty Python effectively set standards that American comedians would try catch up to for the next couple of decades.
Thankfully for Eddie Izzard, he's British, so he had a front row seat to the revolution - metaphorically speaking, of course. That exposure served as a primary influence for what has become a huge, and richly colorful, career.
Comedy wasn't Eddie's original career choice, though. We recently had a chance to chat with the actor slash comedian slash outspoken political activist about his beginnings.
"I actually wanted to be a dramatic actor, but I thought that I was too short," he explained in our phone conversation.
Standing at around 5'7" Izzard felt his stature was better suited for the comedic arts. So he kept moving forward, taking concepts from influence and experience, loaded with naturally sharp wit, and forged a career that would see him conquer the realm of comedy, on the world stage.
It didn't come easy.
"I started performing in the streets, and then I went on to stages, in front of paying audiences," he recalls. Many comedians sharpen their skills with amateur nights, but Eddie came up putting himself in a proverbial trial by fire kind of situation, stating that he always had to be "on" or he would've been eaten alive. In the end, he says, he was better for it.
Since he began, back in the 1980s, Eddie Izzard has managed to create quite a fortuitous career. He's excelled in the world of comedy, on stage and screen, both small and large. His talents have landed him in films like "Velvet Goldmine," "Across The Universe," and "Valkyrie," to just scratch the surface. And his performances on television shows like "The Riches" and, most recently, NBC's "Hannibal," have proven that he does, in fact, have some damn fine dramatic chops, after all.
Eddie's experiences throughout his professional life, as well as in his personal life, have given him a unique perspective on the world.
With extraordinary achievements - he recently completed 27 marathons in 27 days in South Africa in temperatures exceeding 105 degrees, raising more than $3.4 million for charity and activism - also come extraordinary heartbreaks - a run of 31 UK appearances in 31 days tried to urge the citizens to vote to keep Britain in the European Union. Sadly, the vote didn't go the way Izzard had hoped. While the wish to remain with the EU was a strong stance with entertainers such as Izzard, J.K.?Rowling, Daniel Craig, Elton John and other Brits, Eddie and his pal, Python's John?Cleese, didn't see eye to eye on this one.
So there is probably no doubt Eddie will inject something timely and topical into his set when he heads stateside to deliver his inimitable brand of astute humor. On July 20, Izzard's "Force Majeure" tour will be making a stop here in West Virginia, at the Clay Center, in Charleston.
"You'll laugh," Eddie guarantees. "It'll be funny, it'll be intelligent, you'll enjoy the show."
For tickets, visit tickets.theclaycenter.org/