The biggest surprise at Eddie Izzard’s standing-room-only show Saturday night, a “work in progress” that had him performing at the Seattle Repertory Theatre for two nights, came at the start: the hilarious British comedian was not dressed in drag. Izzard appeared in transvestite get-ups in past solo shows (which can be seen on video) and liked to explain during performances that, as he fancied women, he was kind of like a “male lesbian.” The Seattle Times even billed his act this weekend as a “one-woman” show. He strode on stage, however, in jeans, an untucked blue button-down shirt and blazer, his heretofore dyed blonde hair now a more natural looking dark brown, and he sported a moustache to boot. Turns out he’s got conventional male good looks, which you could always see anyway beneath the hair, heels and black leather.
Perhaps it’s only a temporary thing while he’s in the experimental stage of his act. But his straight-as-can-be appearance only underscored the fact that Izzard’s transvestite schitck has always been tangential to his act. Sure, he got a few laughs out of the “male lesbian” line. The real comedy, however, was always in his madcap retelling of history. If Jerry Seinfeld’s humor is about nothing, Izzard is the anti-Seinfeld, plumbing the entire story of civilization for laughs. His new show is no exception. There’s a focus on religion in the act, or rather on undermining religion. (My husband labeled him the Christopher Hitchens of comedy after the Brit author of God is Not Great). He starts off with the premise that if only one of the religions of the world is right, then the billions of people worshiping other religions are in fact worshiping—nothing. He gets mileage from the spiritual practices of the Druids, the Greeks, the Romans. He imitates God talking to his wayward son Jesus. And while there’s plenty of substance there, he’s always willing to go off on a tangent about something trivial, to improbably entertaining effects. In the middle of his monologue, a fly zoomed right into his nose and he spent the next five or 10 minutes following the insect around the stage. Looks like the show is shaping up to be better than his last, which while good, was not quite as much fun as his breakthrough show Dressed to Kill.