Eddie Izzard is a force of nature. He cannonballed onto the American comedy scene in 1998’s Dress to Kill. He was quick and funny, and he talked about history and language with incredible speed and precision, boiling the salient talking points about war and human cruelty into biting moments of hilarity. He also did it all in heels and makeup and partly in French.
He came out as a cross-dresser, using such characterizing phrases as “executive transvestite” and “male tomboy.” A film and history buff, he explains a great amount of history, warning American audiences, “I’m from Europe, where the history comes from.”
Fast-forward 10 years and Izzard is an international film and television star and a regular political pundit in England. For his next trick, he’s taking his show on the road and doing it in several languages. Force Majeure is the most extensive world comedy tour ever, and Izzard will perform in the native language of each audience.
“I’m very interested in the history of World War I and World War II — particularly World War II — and what everyone went through,” he said. “I’m of the mind that we could stop that kind of thing from ever happening again, and I think that doing gigs in other languages is a very open-handed kind of way of achieving that.”
In conversation, Izzard is much like his stage persona, zigging and zagging to his point but ultimately arriving at a razor-sharp conclusion distilled to its essence. He has never shied away from politics, whether as a commentator or a future politician. He plans to run for mayor of London in 2020.
Coming out as a cross-dresser was a bold move in 1998 America, when the prospect of a Time Magazine cover with a transgender woman on the cover was a twinkle in equal-rights activists’ eyes.
Izzard wanted to make them comfortable, get them talking. And talk they did.
“You have to be an activist in politics before you can be a politician,” he said.
He was also paving the way for a dialogue about LGBT issues by coming out, clearing the air and then cracking jokes about it.
“I had to come out and kind of get loose and groovy with it,” he said.
He then went on to do a bunch of other things: his marathons for charity; his fervent advocacy for the European Union; and, most recently, three back-to-back shows — one each in English, French and German — in Normandy for the 70th anniversary of D-Day.
“LGBT have to be boring, and I don’t mean that they have to be boring as people but that their sexuality has to be the most boring part about them,” he said. “We have to get to that point [that], ‘I’m gay,’ is met with an, ‘Oh yeah? Heard it before. What do you do with your life?’ We’re getting to that point that they’re just now turning that corner to being accepted.”