Friday, June 13, 2008
The Fillmore Miami Beach at the Jackie Gleason Theatre
Better Than: All the Best Things Put into Shepherd’s Pie.
Miami weather, chickens, cocaine, Ancient Egypt, Wikipedia, evolution, football, the appendix, Scrabble, Mackintosh, Macs, giraffes, aqueducts, the Stone Age, America, dyslexia and fruit bats.
No, that’s not a shopping list put together by some hard-boiled egghead from up on high, it’s some of what a quick-witted Brit named Eddie Izzard touched upon over the weekend at The Fillmore Gleason. A list, I should add, that doesn’t even begin to catalog the cat’s high-speed monologue.
Then again, since it’s meant to represent “everything that’s ever happened,” how could it?
You might call Eddie a comprehensive comic, expansive, learned and keenly absurd. Kinda like Artaud had he got out more, perhaps, or an encyclopedist who’s every entry is prompted by wise crack. It’s a sorta kitchen sink theory, which omits nothing – and considers all. Like the wildly popular open content site from which Izzard tangents, one thing leads to another and another and another till it all comes right back at you.
And right back at you might just be the best way to describe Izzard’s schtick, which is really more like a whip that cracks around the whole wild world of history. In Eddie’s manic mind Darwin’s magnum opus was entitled “Monkey, Monkey, Monkey, Monkey, Monkey, Monkey, You!;” Scrabble worked best before there were words; the Romans success is due in large part to their love of ducks; and Rennie Mackinktosh gets his place in the jungle, alongside Adam’s Apple. Nonsense? Not even close. More like the beyond sense that explains everything.
Of course even in the age of Wiki you kinda gotta know stuff, no matter how many hyperlinks you’re given or how far you can stretch your imagination, and Izzard’s got a keen as vast as the horizon. Not that he flaunts it, mind you (that would be crass), but that his smarts just can’t help edging their way into the proceedings. This is comedy for literates. Dig? Intellectual slapstick that rises well above the all fall down.
That’s not to say some people don’t walk away without a bruise (hell, even Eddie Izzard can’t resist sometimes targeting a bull’s eye), but that he doesn’t need to stomp on some lowest common denominator in order to get his comedy across. See, Izzard respects himself too much to be some mere insult comic, just as he respects us, and he’s too astute to be reduced. The laugh’s not on him or on you, it’s on everyone, everywhere, ever, and the sooner everybody gets it the better.
If that sounds like nonsense to you, then you’re not listening.
Personal Bias: I dug Eddie I even before there were The Riches.
Random Detail: The cuneiform backdrop looked like footnotes for the Pharaohs.
By the Way: Izzard allowed around forty of the faithful to come backstage after the show for a combo meet-and-greet/Q&A that gave a whole new meaning to the word manners.
– John Hood