Interview: The Rambling British Comic Eddie Izzard, Who's at the Fox Theatre Saturday

Rambling, improvising and eternally absurd actor/stand-up comedian Eddie Izzard certainly keeps himself busy these days, what between releasing his seventh DVD, searching for the perfect U.S. drama series to sink his teeth into and ushering a documentary film about his formative years into theaters. Not to mention offering up his own ringtones, a version of online "Tetrizz", quirky GPS directions and an interactive "12 Days of Christmas" ("Six Cows in a Car, Five Spartan Sheep...") calendar. And that's only the very tip of the Izzberg. The Emmy-winning Izzard will perform his stand-up act at the Fabulous Fox Theatre on Saturday night.

Eddie Izzard performs his one-man show on Saturday night at the Fabulous Fox Theatre.
Eddie Izzard performs his one-man show on Saturday night at the Fabulous Fox Theatre.
Yeah, the math is kind of bizarre; it seems strange the more time goes on. At the time, I was happy I was doing them, but since I finished, I was quite surprised I did them. I've been playing arenas, and arena comedy is frowned upon by certain people in the U.K., and probably in the U.S. as well. In America I'm calling it the Big Intimacy tour. Rock & roll plays large venues and no one complains about that. The only way to get good at playing arenas is by playing arenas. Barack Obama showed that you can play to 100,000 people and make it intimate by the speeches he did. He trusted the screen and spoke the way he always speaks, except there were a hundred-thousand there. You just have to enjoy the fact that it's an arena. Getting standing ovations in Belfast and Dublin, which is very difficult to get, I'm very happy with where it is, and that's what I want to bring to America. 

After all your acting success, what brings you back to the stand-up stage? 
I spent ages trying to become a stand-up. Acting was my first love. When I was seven, I wanted to act, and I could never get the roles in school, and I jumped ship into comedy. It's really hard to do, but I can do it whenever I want. As opposed to doing a TV show: "Oh, we have to set a million things up, and we have to do pilots," and all these kinds of things. If you're Tom Cruise, you can set it up, but it's a little tricky for me. It seems crazy to throw that away, so I will always do that. 

I like to be on the edge of always trying to do something. Trying to break through. I always like to be on this beginning edge. That gives me somewhere to get to. I try to make myself laugh. I just try and entertain myself. If you're in America, it's huge, and most Americans just try to play America. But if you're in the U.K. you have the whole world to play. Indians are English-speaking, South Africa, all over the world. Eastern Europe, they've been learning English in school for 20 years now. Just played Helsinki last night; it was great. So I'm just not going to give this up. 

After a certain number of years, some comics can begin cannibalizing their material. Constantly covering history and religion, how do you find new things to say about the same subjects? 
You do get pet subjects, like Woody Allen and relationships. You have things you like to go to. And I like to keep talking about the Virgin and "The History of Everything." Hopefully if you're approaching it with a good enough eye and trying to entertain yourself, it comes out in an interesting way. I keep going back to religion and I am curious. I decided for my last tour in America that I would be a non-theist, as opposed to an agnostic as I was before. I love the search for God as humans. Like, you can't get elected in America unless you're with God in some way, and you can't get elected in Europe if you are with God. 

What's on the horizon after your U.S. tour? 
After the U.S. tour I'm planning on getting another drama series going, but that's very likely in L.A., and developing more films. I can still tour. There's a political election in the next few months which will be interesting and I'll be active in. But for America, the drama series is what I want to develop. And as soon as I know what it is, I'll do one. There's a story in my mind, but we'll have to see where that gets to.

Having had a TV crew following, any plans of releasing your marathon footage in the U.S.?
Not for the moment. It's part of a charity thing, and it's owned by BBC, so at the moment I don't know. It's up to them. They're going to play it in the U.K. in March. I have this documentary called Believe, which just came out in America, which explains the determination thing that I seem to have. I will just keep plugging away at things, so this sort of explains how I did the marathons. 

Last year there was talk of a film version of The Riches. Are efforts still being made to get it off the ground? 
We still want to do it, but there's a lot of hoops to get through, especially with the credit-crunch time for raising money. It was the plan, but I can't say that it's definitely going to happen, but I'd like it to. Anything else you'd like to get out there? Well done, America, for electing Obama. Hope we all get out of the recession well. 

Eddie Izzard. 8 p.m. Saturday, January 9. The Fox Theatre, 527 N. Grand Boulevard. $38-$58. 314-534-1678.
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