Big things are happening on TV Tropes! New admins, new designs, fewer ads, mobile versions, beta testing opportunities, thematic discovery engine, fun trope tools and toys, and much more - Learn how to help here and discuss here.
"Je suis un travesti executif... un travesti d'action!"
"So... uh... I'd better explain the tits. Um... didn't have those at school. Wanted to, but not in the school curriculum, even though I asked."
So, uh... yeah. So! Eddie Izzard! He's a British stand-up comedian and actor, notable for his style of rambling, free-associating monologues with pantomimic sketches, with Conversational Troping by the fistful should he veer onto the subjects of TV and cinema (which he will). He is known for being an Action!Transvestite (or, if you prefer, Executive Transvestite). He uses Wikipedia to do his research.He's one of the few comedians who can perform in multiple languages,note Starting as bit parts about learning European languages (like Latin), he has went on to do entire gigs in French and German. and has even done Labour Party gigs. As for his acting career, Izzard has appeared in several movies and theatre productions, and has covered a wide range of both serious and eccentric roles (several of which are supervillains). As with most comedians, you can expect to spot him here and there — some of his most notable roles in the past decade cover master thief, Nazi defector, serial killer, and talkingcar.On 27 July 2009, Izzard began a seven week mega-marathon run around the UK to raise money for Sport Relief. He ran six days a week for 51 days, covering at least 27 miles per day, carrying a flag for each county in which he ran, from London to Cardiff to Belfast to Edinburgh and back to London. He completed his 1,110 mile run on 15 September 2009 at Potters Bay and rescued a kitten along the way. Izzard was 47 years old at the time, and had completed his first marathon just three months before.He had intended to do a similar feat in 2012, by running 27 marathons in 27 days, in tribute to Nelson Mandela (one marathon for each of his years in prison) but had to stop after the fourth, due to unforeseen complications due to prescription drugs he'd been taking.This man is so highly thought of as a comedian and performer that Thy Lord the Comedy God Himself, John Cleese, described him as the "Lost Python" (Izzard hosted a documentary and appeared with the remaining members of the troupe on BBC Two for their 30th anniversary).Eddie's most recent show Force Majeure was successful enough to continue across five continents - despite starting in 2013, and having the show released on home video while still touring, he still continued to sell out venues, playing dates in the USA up until July of the following year.He has also expressed an interest in running for Mayor of London in the 2020 city elections. Well, the current Mayor used to host Have I Got News for You on occasion...
"Wo ist das Trope, mein Herr? Wo ist das Trope?"
20% More Awesome: In one show he promised to be 10% funnier than usual since the show was being recorded. Then he mused on how impossible that was to verify "unless you brought a sort of laughometer".
Acting for Two: Many routines involve a duologues, and he will move from spot to spot as he plays both of them, answering to empty places he jumps between. Due to a great deal of improv in dialogue and mimes, expect characters sharing invisible props and trying to out-do each other like Groucho Marx:
Character 1: They wrote a song about it. Character 2: (beat) Go on then, sing it.
The Protestant faith was different. That was about Martin Luther, this German guy who pinned a note on a door saying, "'Ang on a minute!" But in German, so, "Ein minuten bitte! Ich haben eine kleine problemo... avec diese religioné." (beat) He was from everywhere."
Back for the Finale: Weird characters mentioned throughout the show tend to come back at the end for a last comment, especially Mrs. Badcrumble. Lampshaded in "Stripped".
Bilingual Bonus: In his most recent tour incarnation, there's a sketch that involves two Roman soldiers speaking in Latin to each other; the "Latin" quickly devolves into a weird mosh of Latin, German, French, and English. In order to prove the superiority of English as a way of avoiding Poor Communication Kills. "Mit Elephanten." "Quod. The. Fuck."
[During the conclusion of Definite Article] Mother Nature: Pavlov, what are you doing here? Pavlov: Well, I've been trying to do things and (mumbles) ...banjo. (bell rings) Ooh, I’m hungry now! Mother Nature: Next we have... sheep! Good haircut, by the way [...] You wearing Blakeys? Mouse, what are you doing here? Mouse: [As Robert Burns (with a Sean Connery accent)] Well, I've got a space rocket out of jam... It won’t work, but... it’s not my best laid plan. I could go aglay... but Mrs. Badcrumble is coming, and Caesar, and the Australian guy...
Especially so in Force Majeure, where he ends up calling back to a few gags from several years ago. Granted, it works without prior knowledge, but it will be confusing if you don't know the Death Star catering bit from his previous tour.
Chekhov's Gun: Literally! In Dress To Kill early on he talks about how a kid grabbed a bunch of his grandfather's "arsenal" of weapons and went and shot up his school. Later on he's talking about how much he hates Scooby Doo characters other than Scooby and Shaggy.
Scrappy Doo, a magnum... [pretends to shoot a gun] ...thank you Grandad.
Continuity Nod: His shows always feature little scenes with imaginary characters, who later start to appear in each other's scenes, eventually coming all together in the finale.
Also, his latest show Stripped contains references to his earlier shows.
Half of you are now laughing, and the other half is going "What the hell is he talking about?"
Specifically, as of a gig in April 2010, after a Call Back:
[after half the audience's insane reaction to "covered with bees"] "If you don't get why they are laughing, I'm not going to explain it to you. Some people are just bee enthusiasts... I'm a bee enthusiast!"
Also, his documentary, "Believe" falls into this. It is unbelievable how hungry he was to make it big, even at times when he was competing against the likes of Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie.
Dissimile: From the documentary following his multi-marathon run around the UK:
Week 2: base camp. It's like Everest but if Everest was really flat...if you took Everest and put it down. So there's none of that up... and there's the snow... no snow... but you're running... Oh forget it.
Dude Looks Like a Lady: Averted. He wears women's clothing, but doesn't really attempt to "pass". He's just a bloke who happens to be wearing a dress.
[Discussing his transvestism] They're not women's clothes. They're my clothes, I bought them.
Everything's Better with Monkeys: "Le singe est sur la branche!" Originally this was "le singe est dans l'arbre", until someone pointed out that it meant the monkey is inside the tree.note Actually, both are grammatically correct, but 100% of French speakers will say "le singe est dans l'arbre" and never "sur la branche".
"'Raargh! Wuurgh! Larrgh!' Said Jesus, trying to blend in."
Everyone Looks Sexier If French: Mentioned in one of his sketches in Dress To Kill. According to him, French actors play more "esoteric" characters in American movies: "Hello, my name is Pierre. I come from Paris. I have come to have sex with your family." "Help yourself!"
Later he does a strange version of Breaking the Fourth Wall; he says that the people in those movies should listen to the music. Normally, he says, people would hear the music and turn back. He mimes going in various directions while humming ominous music. He chooses another direction and starts humming happy music. He chooses that path. Whereas, he says, the people in the movies are just idiots! They're just going along, saying "Fuck off, you cellists!"
Genre Savvy: In the video linked above, he points out that no vampire would be a threat in real life as we're all too genre savvy, and we'd all do sign of the cross, stake through the heart, and then garlic bread.
Harpo Does Something Funny: His material is pretty fixed for each tour, but he will approach it differently from night to night. This has some hazards - the DVD for the Circle tour was shot at a (comparatively) weak performance. The high level of improvisation tends to result in a markedly different show deeper into a tour; e.g. the later Sexie performances were rather superior to the comparatively weak DVD, shot at an early show.
Idiot Ball: Not by Eddie himself, but from the Watchdog report, courtesy of Anne Robinson and her cronies, that helped basically cripple his career as a stand-up comedian for a few years. The basis for their report that he was supposedly recycling jokes from one tour to the next, when Eddie had actually just used similar jokes from his Dressed to Kill tour in his Circle tour, and the former of which hadn't been a UK tour but had seen a DVD release. Never mind the fact that some comedians recycle one joke to make up their entire career, or that musicians have a catalogue of greatest hits, but Circle had tons of cool stuff that wasn't in DTK, including the debut of Jeff Vader - runs the Death Star?.
I Like My X Like I Like My Y: Eddie likes his women like he likes his coffee: Hot and strong, and with a spoon in them; or in a plastic cup; or covered in BEES!
Mussolini said, "Right, we're all fascists," but most Italian people are always on scooters going, "Ciao!" ...And they're into football!, and life!, and they're not fascists. He said, "We're all fascists!" "Uh... All right, ciao!" No helmet on. All those 50's films like Roman Holiday''. Everyone's just cool and hangs out.
Then there's his Darth Vader. "I am not Mr Stevens! I could kill you with a thought!"
Dracula and other "low-powered" Vampires. Particularly post chainsaw.
The Spanish Inquisition as done by the Church of England, which segued into his eventual "Cake or Death?" routine:
Eddie: The Spanish Inquisition would've never worked with the Church of England! "Talk, will you! Talk!" "But itnote being tortured really hurts!" "Right, well loosen it up a bit for him..."
Inherently Funny Words: a staple technique. He's particularly fond of the name Jeff.note (Which does seem to be spelled that way, despite the spelling 'Geoff' being more common in the UK, thanks to his pronouncing an audible J somehow.)
Jeff, the Roman God of Biscuits!
Insane Troll Logic: His show occasionally descends into this. At one point, he "proved" the story of Noah's Ark was false by having giant squid complain about the lack of hand towels. He also claimed that anything which could swim or fly would have gotten away scot-free, and that the world should have been overrun by evil ducks and pilot fish as a result (the pilot fish with the huge teeth and the little light on their forehead. Yes).
Dr. Heimlich: No! My name is going to be famous in restaurants!
Lame Pun Reaction: He once jokes, "I was a very driven boy scout. Driven everywhere, I was." Ironically, the audience laughs, and he then groans at the fact that they actually laughed.
And then there was King Menelaos, who was a sponge cake.
And there's the Ottoman Empire, full of furniture for some reason...
From abshow in Dallas:
And so God created all these animals, but there's no food, so eventually they're all following Him around, saying 'We're hungry!' so God says 'Err ... badgers eat bok choi!' 'No we don't. And it's pak choi.' 'No, it's bok choi! Mandarin!' 'Cantonese.' 'Fine, you eat ... sprouting broccoli.' 'Eww.' 'I see badgers can be choosers!'" Cue massive audience groan. "What? You've heard too many pak choi, bok choi, sprouting broccoli, badger creationist jokes this week? Oh yeah, up to here. We're wading through them this Christmas. That old chestnut. Fuck off."
From his Dress to Kill show:
Swindon here. We're monitoring you on our instruments. We've got you on a tuba. More quiet laughter — "That should be a bigger laugh for that joke, I think".
One of his earliest jokes, and the origin of his 'jam' catchphrase:
"I went out last night had a few jars, then I went to another pub and had a few jars, then I went home and had another few jars. God I've got to stop eating so much jam.”
Lampshade Hanging: He does this a lot when the jokes don't get as much laughter as he had expected. This usually gets a much better round of laughter.
"Oh ho, you fucked up there, mate! No one laughed at that!"
"Why are Sean Connery and James Mason playing cows? And why does Izzard have to announce his impressions before he does them?"
"Oh, I've got your scythe! Very sorry...it was a mime problem, I think."
"Sporadic laugh, that was! It's like I've gone in and removed some of your entrails!"
[mimes taking note on hand] "Should be funnier."
[small amount of laughter] "Please, don't laugh too much."
"And as the audience worked that joke out..."
"Good comedy situation, I thought!"
Left It In: This trope is practically a catchphrase of his, saying "We'll cut that out" usually once per show.
"Sack of charcoal?" "They've always got them at petrol stations. Yes, very funny gag, in England and France. Not in America, it goes down like a lead balloon." "What, don't they have sacks of charcoal at late-night-" "No, they don't have it, it's a different thing." "So did you cut it out of the show?" "No, kept it in, couldn't be buggered."
"Guns don't kill people, people kill people. But monkeys do too (if they've got a gun)."
"Guns don't kill people, people do. But you know, I think the gun helps, you know?"
"No, bullets kill people, actually."
"It's the bullet ripping through the body! That's what kills them! Huh!"
"Like the National Rifle Association says, 'It's not guns that kill people - it's maneouvres.'"
"It's just that certain noise they make."
Metaphor Is My Middle Name: From the introduction bit to his Glorious concert DVD "Danger could be my middle name... But it's John."
A Million Is a Statistic: He talks about this in regards to all the people killed by mass murderers, and how the public tends to be less affected by higher death tolls (this eventually segues into his "Cake or Death?" monologue)
Eddie: Someone's killed 100,000 people. We're almost going..."Well done! You killed 100,000 people? You must get up very early in the morning!"
Omniglot: It's not uncommon for his routines to stray into foreign languages. Especially of note as, not only can Eddie speak Latin, but he is fluent enough in French and German that he performs non-English routines when touring Europe.
Rearrange the Song: The intro music to his Dress to Kill special is a remixed version of that of Glorious. In addition, Glorious' theme appears on the Dress to Kill CD.
Recursive Reality: Apparently Jesus' birth involved Christmas presents and even had a nativity set up.
Red Shirt When Steve from the accounts department beams down with Captain Kirk, he's probably not coming back.
Running Gag: Izzard's Scottish clarinet teacher Mrs. Badcrumble, James Mason and Sean Connery playing various historical figures because they're the only voices he can do (Mason is almost always God), and jam is always mentioned in some shape or form. Extras will almost always be named either Steve or Jeff.
Rule of Three: Izzard himself has stated in an interview that he often draws humor this way.
Sometimes you're hoovering away and it makes that funny noise. "A-jig-a-jig-a-jig-a-jig-a." And you carry on hoovering, thinking "Was that a bit of grit? Was that a piece of money? Or was that the treasure of the Sierra Madre?"
"I didn't have the power to say, "Susan, I saw you in class today, as the sun shone with a brilliant light that caught your hair. It was haloed. You turned, your eyes flashed fire into my soul. I immediately read the words of Dostoevsky and Karl Marx, and in the words of Albert Schweitzer: "I FANCY YOU!""
Also described Adolf Hitler as "a Nazi shithead... as many eminent historians have pointed out".
Tape: Ou est la plume de mon oncle? [Where is my uncle's pen?]
Izzard: La plume de mon oncle est bingy bongy boogy bongy.
Tape: Non! Pas de tout! Je ne me connais pas bingy bongy boogy bongy! Qu'est-ce que vous dites?! Vous est un putain! [No! Not at all! I don't know bingy bongy boogy bongy! What are you saying?! You are a whore!]
Izzard: Je suis pas un putain. Je n'avais pas le sexe pour l'argent. Que c'est vous dites, vous cassette? [I am not a whore. I don't take sex for money. What are you saying, you cassette?]
Tape: Oh, oh pardon. Je suis désolé. Vous avez raison. [singing] Je suis seulement pauvre cassette. Et je, je n'avais pas le pantalon. [Oh, oh pardon me. I'm sorry. You're right. I am only a poor cassette. And I, I have no trousers.]
Tape: Wo ist das Kind, mein Herr? Wo ist das Kind? [Where is the child, sir? Where is the child?] Izzard: Das Kind ist in dem Flughafen. [The child is at the airport.] As well you know. Tape: Ja, das Kind ist in dem Flughaben. Aber warum? [Yes, the child is at the airport. But why?] Izzard: Well, I’m not really sure. Perhaps he likes the airplanes.
Throw It In: Not only is at least 50% of his material improvised, sometimes he turn an on-the-spot slipup into a joke of is own.
In Definite Article, his Russian accent when mimicking Pavlov somehow came out Welsh-sounding, so he made up a few lines about Pavlov being a Welsh immigrant.
Day two. Being well accepted here in Russia. Changed my name from Evans to Pavlov. I am now called Gareth Pavlov, and fitting in well.
Also from Definite Article: [suddenly in Australian accent] "Well, I don't know, Mrs. Badcrumble, I mean, y'know, I'm just, uh... why am I Australian, by the way? ... My country hasn't even been invented yet... except by the indigenous race that lives there!"
"We should do an archaijeowfajsical dig!" "We should do a what?" "An archaeological dig. My tongue got stuck in my back tooth. Checking for stuff.
From Stripped: "There's still wishful thinkment — wishful thinkment? Wishful thinkment. Wish fulfillment, wishful... thinking! Wishful thinking and wish fulfillment is wishful thinkment. They've combined."
In a show in Toronto he'd forgotten the name of something he was going to include in the show, so he went backstage to get his phone to look it up.
He just happens to rescue a lot of one-legged kids: what of it? They were one-legged when he found them. Really.
Tom Hanks Syndrome: His acting chops have in recent years moved him toward more serious roles. Notable examples include his dead-straight role as Robert Watson-Watt in Castles in the Sky, a drama about the invention of radar; his portrayal of an actual Nazi (though a cowardly one) in Valkyrie; and playing Long John Silver himself in a TV movie adaptation of Treasure Island, with, as he put it, "none of that 'Ooh arr, Jim lad' nonsense." It's not that Eddie has preferred comedic roles in the past and has now turned to more dramatic roles; rather, he was pigeonholed as a comedian.
Trans Equals Gay: He's had to deal with the fact that many people assume he's gay because of his crossdressing, when in fact he identifies as heterosexual. One routine had him pointing out that even though people like to equate gay men and drag queens, there is "a crowbar separation" between the two.
Translation By Volume: He did a bit about this trope (talking loudly and/or slowly to foreigners), where Brits in France would try to order the same foods from home, but speak with greater volume and enunciation.
Turbine Blender: When a bird gets sucked into an engine they call it "birdstrike". It's not birdstrike, it's "enginesuck"!
Notably averted. He does curse a lot in his act fairly liberally, but he seldom - if ever - does any truly vulgar material. And even with the cursing "fuck" is never in reference to sex (which he calls "shagging"), and "shit" is never a reference to excrement (which he calls "poo"). The end result is that he swears a lot, but the act as a whole comes off childlike and charming, and his DVDs are easily rendered family-friendly by applying the bleeped audio option which is always included.
Wholesome Crossdresser: Izzard himself, though he prefers the term "Executive Transvestite" or "Action Transvestive". He's also straight, which is not that unusual in Real Life.
During his Stripped Tour, he claimed to be a Retired Transvestite now. He's stated it's ironic now that, because of the Stripped tour, he has to go on TV insisting that he's still a transvestite, when he spent much of his life trying to hide it.