Eddie Izzard performed at Durham Performing Arts Center last Monday, May 13th and while waiting for to him take the stage I heard the same thing over and over: “I can’t believe there are so many people here!” Many fans worried that Izzard “might be too much for this area” or that the tide of bigotry sweeping this country might keep people away from the transgendered artist’s show. However, the shared joy at finding so many kindred souls in one place was palpable among the audience. “I didn’t realize there were so many chill people in this state,” said one fan.
At 57, Eddie Izzard is at the top of his game. He is the epitome of chill as he swaggers down the stage looking oddly tough in a black leather jacket, stiletto boots, and a form-fitting kilt-like skirt. The extreme marathoner, actor, and comedian looks as if he could conceivably deliver the most fabulous beatdown in history if he weren’t just the nicest guy in the room.
Izzard’s stream-of-consciousness comedy is sharp as ever; and in my opinion, Wunderbar is his best material since Dressed to Kill.
Eddie Izzard has a way of taking historical, philosophical, and scientific topics and going from cerebral to silly at the speed of light. If you haven’t seen him live, you should try. The experience is like a rocket ride for your brain. I spent most of the evening trying frantically to catch up to whatever insanely funny thing he just said, because I was still laughing at the insanely funny thing he said one second before. It’s a lot of fun…. You might need oxygen.
The only complaint that I have about this material is the amount of time that he spends on the whole “God does not exist thing.” I dislike people trying to convince me to adopt their faith, and I am equally uncomfortable when people try to convince me to adopt their lack of it. Some of the bit is very funny, but other parts felt like a thin veil covering up a lot of sadness.
The word “genius” is bandied about very haphazardly these days, but Izzard’s performance is an honest-to-goodness example of what intellectual rigor actually looks like. It isn’t just that he performs in three other languages or manages to teach you more about the Battle of Hastings in four minutes than your history teacher did in four years. It is that he thinks through everything so thoroughly. When he talks about the nature of time and the universe, something he says he “Just thinks about from time to time,” Izzard inadvertently does a fair job of describing the theory of Loop Quantum Gravity. When I say his material is smart, I mean it’s very smart.
Part comedy, part one-man-show, Wunderbar is a window into the soul of man who has spent a lifetime spreading a message of tolerance and authenticity. It isn’t just talk either. Izzard raised over £1 million by running 27 marathons in 27 days. He did it to honor the legacy of Nelson Mandela, but also because he wanted to do his part to make a positive change.
Eddie Izzard says that as a comedian, it would easy to go negative — to spend all his time bashing Trump and Brexit and all of the plethora of terrible things in the world right now — but that doing that would just feed the negativity. Like many philosophers before him, Izzard has again stumbled upon a universal truth: we are all connected to one another, and it is up to us to put the positive things we want into world. “That is what all the running and the languages are about.” I’m trying to put something good into the world.
Izzard will be on tour in America until the 14th of July, if you want to catch the something good that he is putting out there.
SECOND OPINION: May 14th Raleigh, NC Chatham Life & Style review by Dustin K. Britt (who awarded the show 4.5 of 5 stars): https://chathamlifeandstyle.com/reviews-and-features; and May 8th Durham, NC Indy Week mini-preview by Byron Woods: https://indyweek.com/events/eddie-izzard-wunderbar-dpac-may-13/.
EDDIE IZZARD: WUNDERBAR WORLD TOUR 2019 (Durham Performing Arts Center, May 13 in Durham, NC, in the American Tobacco Historic District).
SHOW: https://www.dpacnc.com/events/detail/eddie-izzard-2019 and https://www.facebook.com/events/1155887864536016/.
VIDEO PREVIEW: https://www.youtube.com/user/EddieIzzard.
THE TOUR: https://www.eddieizzard.com/en.
PRESENTER/VENUE: http://www.dpacnc.com/, https://www.facebook.com/DPACNC, https://twitter.com/DPAC, and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Durham_Performing_Arts_Center.
Eddie Izzard (transgender British stand-up comedian, actor, author, and political activist): https://www.eddieizzard.com/en (official website), https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-cast-staff/eddie-izzard-105047 (Internet Broadway Database), https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0412850/ (Internet Movie Database), https://www.facebook.com/eddieizzard/ (Facebook page), https://twitter.com/eddieizzard (Twitter page), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eddie_Izzard (Wikipedia), and https://www.youtube.com/user/EddieIzzard (YouTube).
[RUN HAS CONCLUDED.]
Nicole Noel is a former U.S. Army journalist-turned-Knowledge Manager. At age seven, she wrote her first story on the wall of her basement: “There once was a girl named Nicole who had a dog named Rat and they lived in this house.” These days Nicole lives with her daughter, and another great dog, in a house in Fuquay-Varina. Click here to read her reviews for Triangle Review and Triangle Arts and Entertainment.