Review: The (r)Evolution of Eddie Izzard

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  • Edward Medina, Contributing Critic - New York City

New York, NY - Eddie Izzard is a revolutionary being. As a stand-up comedian, actor, writer and political activist change comes naturally to him. Constant evolution is a given in his world. Over the years, Izzard has become the international ambassador of jest and justice and while Great Britain, and most of Europe may claim him as their very own, the rest of the world has just as much claim to this comedic Renaissance polymath. The transvestite comedian, clothed in high heeled boots and a tartan skirt, is currently traveling the world on what may be his final tour and Wunderbar is not to be missed by either his devotees or those who are just now discovering his considerable skills.

With its opulent interior and open proscenium flanked on either side by thirty-foot-tall Greek goddesses, New York’s landmark Beacon Theatre was just the right setting for this rogue raconteur to deliver his carefully constructed yet seemingly casual stream of consciousness banter. Wunderbar began its life in Paris aboard the floating La Nouvelle Seine theatre as it traveled along the banks of the Seine in the shadow of Notre Dame cathedral. What began as French improvisation continued to be refined in German in Berlin then Spanish in Madrid. Creation, development, and presentation of this caliber is not unknown to this comedic auteur. His last comedy tour, Force Majeure, made history by having been performed in four different languages, in forty-five countries, and all fifty of the United States, making it the most extensive comedy show in history.

Reminiscent of Dressed to Kill, another epic performance of his which took live viewers and cable subscribers by storm, Wunderbar is Izzard’s very best work. This is all new hilarious and thought-provoking material, which expands on his career long continuing quest for existential meaning through his own very unique, totally surreal view of life, love, history, philosophy, science, and psychology. In typical style the first half of his show is a high speed grab bag spanning everything from evolution to world wars and his theory on the creation of the universe. After a brief intermission he returns with stories about his adventures in marathoning, his attempts at long distance ocean swimming, his quest for political ambitions, the secret life of dogs, and in a personally reflective revelatory layer his love for his father and family.

For the uninitiated, it might be easy to think that his comedy is scattershot. The thoughts arriving so fast and the sharp twists and turns appearing blindly. The truth is that this is material forged in a uniquely sophisticated kiln and it is well tempered. Eddie Izzard is an indomitable man in a dress that ran twenty-seven marathons in twenty-seven days. He’s a self-described radical moderate in a world where radical conservatives are currently dominant. He’s a human being exploring the world with an astute razor sharp wit to be reckoned with. What Izzard does best is to make us laugh, what he does next is to make us think, all while urging each and every one of us to be brave and curious, not fearful and reserved, and never to be suspicious of what is different.

The Wunderbar World Tour will continue the rest of this year with North American dates in various cities, some with multiple night runs, through July. Then it’s off to tour the rest of the globe until it ends mid-November in Dublin, Ireland. The world’s stages will be losing this made for our times prophet de rigueur for some time after that. Izzard has announced that he is once again entering the political arena and running for office in England. He has attempted this in various ways in the past with mixed results, but this time he is approaching the task with a renewed fervor. Sadly, we know him as a person that can succeed at whatever he puts his mind to, so he will be missed while he commits to making positive change in another medium but we also know that he’ll never really be far away. Perhaps all the people of the world should just go ahead and create the greatly feared New World Order everyone’s always talking about and declare Eddie Izzard its de facto leader. Now that would be wunderbar indeed.