A chat with Eddie Izzard

Culture Events Theatre

Eddie Izzard will be returning to the Royal Theatre with his show “Force Majeure” Nov. 29 and 30. The tour brings Izzard to Victoria for the first time since he last performed here in 2010 for his “Stripped” tour.

Izzard describes the world tour as a sort of mental marathon, or a marathon of planning, but he says it’s great to be in the position where he can say he wishes to do something and it comes to fruition. Izzard says he’s returning to Victoria because he likes to get somewhere and he likes to go “wherever there’s a decent comedy audience, a comedy audience that gives a damn and has a brain and that is you guys, cause we’ve been there before. It won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, my stuff. But Monty Python wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea and not everyone is cool. Only cool people come. If the cool people come that’s it.”

In 2020, Izzard is running to be mayor of London and, naturally, he has taken notice of Toronto’s mayor. Izzard says, “I think basically Rob Ford’s doing a ‘what not to do’ in politics. Try not to smoke crack, not to threaten to kill people, try not to do everything he’s done.” Izzard says he was always headed in a political direction and just struggled with how to mix his comedy and acting career with politics. “I’ve realized you’ve got to close one down and open the other one up. At least 10 years I’ll give to politics and see what happens. But I do love this thing and I’m going to really regret leaving comedy and drama, especially my drama’s getting really good now. I feel I’m getting decent gigs and doing decent work, and it hasn’t necessarily been before that. So I’ve got six more years and by the time I pull out, I could be right at the good place, and it might be really annoying to have to go off, but I think I have to go off.”

Izzard knows that there will be people who will say they are underwhelmed or that he’s a letdown in his political career. “And I’m just going to have to take that on the chin and move on, because that will happen I can assure that will happen, and if I do get elected, a transvestite getting elected, wow. It’s going to be a lot. It’s going to change everything, and it won’t change everything, it will change some things, hopefully for the better, and I’ll try, but I’ll make mistakes, and it will go wrong in certain places, but I’ll try.”

Izzard displays a confidence he has been invested in over his lifetime, by doing things and reinvesting in them and then building them up again in a continuous cycle. He says, “I suppose when I first walked out the door saying I was a transvestite, that was a very scary thing to do. You know everyone gets genetic cards when they’re born and some of them are this and some of them are that and some of them are tougher than the ones I’ve got, so. It’s just being open and being forthright and trying to have a bit of humour in there and have a mission in life and try. I worked out where I wanted to go and I stuck to it and I pushed for it. The same when I started running marathons. I pushed for that and I started putting marathon runner in there as my thing. So I do have a vision for where I could go in the world and where the world could go, so that’s why I’m going into politics I suppose.”

It is easy to wonder if Izzard sets limits for himself, but he says he doesn’t think in terms of limits. He says, “I try and do one thing that does two things. That’s what I really like doing, like touring in the French language is amazing. I could be in Bordeaux and drinking Bordeaux wine and going ‘this is bloody amazing.’ I can earn money from it which is great. I can encourage other people to earn money so they can learn the language and come and do it. Get you to see the whole of France, get people to see me, and it could inspire some kid to say ‘I can do that.’ And it also causes politically a bit of extra peace, the French and the Brits working together.”

Eddie, who calls himself a spiritual atheist, believes in people. “I believe in humanity—and if there is a God, it is the collective link between us—in humanity, more good will than ill will in the world. I was practising for my marathons and I saw a bumper sticker, ‘One life, live it.’ I thought, ‘yeah, that’s what you’ve got to do.’ And with a good heart, with a positive, ethical heart, because some people live a full life and they just do it with a lot of murder, like Hitler, and that’s no bloody good. There could be an afterlife and I might not be up for it because I’ve said I don’t believe in God, and so that’s fine. But here there’s stuff to do, there’s people to help, if you can get yourself to a good place, and try and look behind and see if there’s anyone else you can give a hand up. I think that’s really positive and that’s the way we should all live our lives, and I think a lot of us do. So live life, go for it, and try and help someone else,” Izzard says. “We’ve definitely got this life. So do live it to the fullest extent and see what you can do. And watch the film It’s a Wonderful Life at Christmas and that will put you in the right space.”