Eddie Izzard’s Force Majeure is being billed as “the most extensive comedy tour ever.” Izzard will play in 25 countries on 5 continents. Thankfully, Izzard says the show translates “exactly” between cultures. “Human sacrifice is pretty much the same in Albany and Germany,” says Izzard. “No one has looked at the logic of human sacrifice, and I do that in this show. We have these people saying to their great gods: ‘We dismantled your toy! Want it back now?’ I believe it was an early form of fascism, and everyone understands that it’s ridiculous.”
Izzard has already performed Force Majeure in France and Germany, and in three different languages—depending on which audience he is playing to. Don’t worry Albanians, it’s a safe bet that Izzard will be performing in English when he hits Albany on May 12. But as he is a man of many talents and myriad interests, it’s also a safe bet that Izzard will be speaking Albany’s language—politics.
Metroland scored a few minutes of Izzard’s time last week, and we chatted about his show and his interest in politics—both American and British. At each stop of his tour, Izzard is asking fans to submit videos on Twitter noting quirky and interesting historical facts about their hometowns; Izzard will respond to the most compelling anecdotes. It seems unlikely anyone will have trouble finding a quirky or seedy story about Albany.
We asked Izzard if he was aware of Albany’s status as the Empire State’s cesspool of political corruption. “I do know New York state politics but I’m not so encyclopedic about it; I do know more about the overarching national politics,” says Izzard, before mentioning Tammany Hall and running through a thorough breakdown of the current deadlock in Congress and the rise of the Tea Party.
Izzard says part of Force Majeure is about looking at how history repeats itself. “Rome had 500 years of democracy, followed by 400 years of dictatorship—they didn’t call it that because the Romans were obsessed with the idea that: ‘You can’t be king!’ but they kept putting one man in complete control.”
That isn’t to say Izzard is dismissing politics—in fact he confirms that he is considering a run for mayor of London or Parliament in 2020. Izzard says he feels compelled to run because of England’s “version of the Tea Party.”
“I don’t know what I can do but I have to try. It’s amazing to look at how Lincoln and LBJ walked a tightrope and created such good out of the system. I don’t have someone trying to actively destroy my comedy and my work as I do it. But if we don’t do something to fight the stupidity, the world is not going to make it.”
Izzard has been able to balance his stand-up with an acting career, which has included films like Velvet Goldmine, Ocean’s Twelve, Valkyrie and even Cars 2, plus TV shows such as The Riches and Hannibal. Izzard says he isn’t sure how many people know the total body of his work. “I think some of them do, but I can’t tell how it all breaks up. Some people have seen me on The Riches or Hannibal and they don’t realize I do stand up and the other way around. People like Patton Oswalt and Bill Murray are very good at pulling this sort of thing off.”
Izzard may not have total notoriety in the states, but in Britain he is comedy royalty.
John Cleese of Monty Python declared that Izzard is “the lost Python,” and Izzard will be filming Terry Jones’ new film along with Python members Cleese, Michael Palin, and Terry Gilliam, plus Simon Pegg and Robin Williams. When we bring up Cleese’s quote, Izzard’s blush becomes almost palpable over the phone. “I think it means I’m the Python who got there too late. They’ve made me what I am—a mixture of intelligence and silliness—if I’m at all part [of] any legacy they have.”
Eddie Izzard will storm the Palace Theater (19 Clinton Ave., Albany) on Monday (May 12) at 7:30 PM. Tickets are $42 to $67. For more info, visit palacealbany.com or call 465-3334.