After paying only $5 to park near the Majestic Theatre last night, where Eddie Izzard was performing for the second time in three months, my sis and I strolled into a packed house of lines -- lines for the bar, lines for the restrooms, lines for merch. And lines, of course, ready to see the comic known for his incredible historical knowledge, charismatic roles in film and his penchant for drag. We found our seats in the mezzanine and relaxed to a soundtrack that, given the inclusion of the “1812 Festival Overture” (a personal favorite, I might add) and various Nutcracker tunes, proved said comic must also have a thing for the Tchaikovsky.
At around 8:15 p.m., a devastatingly handsome Izzard -- clad in boots, jeans, T-shirt and black jacket with tails -- bounded out on the Majestic’s stage to roaring applause from the sold-out crowd. (Not bragging, but I did purchase my tickets during the fan club pre-sale. It pays to adore.) In a matter of a minute he credited the audience with being the “smartest, most progressively thinking people in Dallas” and made short work of a few loudmouths in the audience -- he suggested that continuing shouts would force him to come down into the audience and punch the culprits, or force their fellow audience members to stab them. Something to that effect. It was a glorious moment; we knew then we were in good hands.
(Oh, and regarding his rather masculine choice of attire, Izzard noted: “People say, ‘He’s not wearing a dress right now.’ I’m like a Human Torch. Flame on. Flame off.”)
Izzard quickly addressed Obama, Clinton and McCain, as well as eight years of bad politics. With quick wit, he dismissed any belief in God, stating that he sides with the scientists when it comes to ye ol’ monotheist or organized religion debate. He exposed his love of Wikipedia (at one point he Wiki-ed Shirley Temple from the stage to make sure she was still alive) and Macs, both of which helped him research his material for his current Stripped tour. Then he dove headfirst into … a history of the world?
Peppered with animal pantomimes and “reenactments” of heavenly goings-on during the passing of ages (a favorite being Jesus telling his dad he can’t just keep hitting the “volcano” and “dragonfly” buttons for four billion years. “But I like volcanoes.”), Izzard started just after the formation of the Earth and careened right on through dinosaurs, the Stone Age, hunting and gathering, the agrarian period, ancient Egyptians, Noah’s Ark, the Romans and on through Moses with amazing amounts covered in between. (Of Noah's Ark, he insisted: It can’t be done.)
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The skill with which Izzard transforms his unceasing data into laugh-out-loud comedy is all the more astounding in person as it was the first time I saw Dress to Kill, Glorious or any of his stand-up specials (or the 20 repeat viewings after). And the audience was impressive as well. One patron provided the answer when Izzard’s memory of Einstein failed him -- the cosmological constant.
“Assume the intelligence of the audience,” Izzard replied and told us again we were the smartest people in Dallas
And he did make me feel like I’d gotten a 4.0 and six gold stars by the time I walked out of there. It’s rewarding to watch a master like Izzard at work, and, yet, he makes you feel like you’re the genius for laughing. While chatting with other audience members and fans, it was discussed how refreshing it is to see stand-up not dumb-downed, blue-collared or Dane Cook-ed. Because, based on the sell-out, Dallas has got a big, bad brainy section of people who appreciate intellectual humor with a few “fucks” thrown in for good measure … well, except for the two guys that walked out when the God jokes got a little heavy.
By the way: As Izzard informed the audience, his FX show, The Riches, is available for streaming on Hulu. But, frankly, I recommend Dress to Kill or Glorious if you’re unfamiliar with his stand-up, and Peter Bogdanovich’s Cat’s Meow for a look at his dramatic work before diving into Minnie Driver territory. --Merritt Martin