Eddie Izzard Takes off His Dress 

Scheduled for five nights at the Kodak, comedian talks Bible Belt, Napoleon, spelunking and the future of The Riches

Wednesday, Jul 30 2008

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I mean, I’m very involved — well, as involved as I can be at the moment — in European politics, and I’ve made my stand there. I think that the European Union is a good thing. We’ve got to try and make it work. And a lot of people in England, particularly, people very loudly shout against it. The general population in England, I think, casually think, “Well, I’ve been told it’s not a big deal.” It’s a really tricky argument, Europe, because it’s so much easier to explain how to be against it than it is to be for it. The arguments for it are slightly more complicated, somewhat more complicated, than the arguments against it. The arguments are basically, “Who are these people? They speak a different language.” And so getting involved in that is interesting. You’ve just got to talk to a lot of people and you’ve got to read a lot of stuff. In America, that question doesn’t exist, but the God question, I suppose the God question is really confusing. Interesting, in American politics you have to at least tip your hat to God — if you don’t say that you’re talking to God, hanging out with God, chat[ting] to him all the time — to get elected. And then in Europe, it’s almost exactly the inverse. Tony Blair played down his religion and then became more religious — I assume you become more religious if you become Catholic — when he left politics. I find that very interesting. I think that’s because of the world wars.

America seems to me to be about five or six different countries. The Southwest, for example, is so different from the Northeast and the Midwest, as different as Germany and Spain.

It would be the same in Europe, but different carvings up. I suppose there’s two or three or four bits to the United Kingdom. Geographically, you’re so big that it makes things ... You’re all spread out. So far it’s been the people in the middle going, “There’s no one else on the planet, it’s just us.’ I think that must be somewhat of the thinking, because they could drive for hours and not see that many other people.

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Yeah, that’s where I’m from. You mentioned when we chatted briefly in St. Louis that on your off days while touring you like to do sightseeing and get a better sense of the cities that you’re in. I’m wondering if there are specific things on this tour that you saw, say for example in Tampa, or wherever, in Detroit.

When it comes to the cities, and particularly in the Northeast, we pick up a long history. I was getting tours around Philadelphia, Boston. Went to the Boston zoo around the back, which was very interesting. By the time we got to Tampa I was quite exhausted, and it was so hot that the idea of wandering around and looking at things ... I was told that St. Petersburg was the place to hang out, but I just couldn’t get there. The energy — I have to keep very careful on the energy because I get ill. I did go to Houston Space Center, and to the one in Washington as well. I’m really into the astronaut program that you have, and one day maybe Europe will have but we don’t have it now. I saw Shiloh, that was very interesting — the battle of Shiloh between Pittsburgh and Memphis.

Wow, I know absolutely nothing about that.

Oh, really. Yeah, I’ve watched the Ken Burns documentary quite intensively and I find that fascinating. And your Revolutionary War, your Civil War, a lot of that military history. And, you know, to understand that, World War II, World War I — I know the overarching side to that. I was going to be in the army, so I do have a military brain that’s going on inside this action transvestite body.

I didn’t realize you were going to be in the army.

Yeah, I was considering doing an officer cadetship. But I think that being a transvestite could have been a down-marker on TV there. I was very much in the scouts. I was like your equivalent of an Eagle scout, called a Queen’s scout. Got all those badges up the wazoo, camping, rock climbing, canoeing, pot holing, what you call spelunging, I think.

Spelunking, yes. Pot holing?

Yeah, we call it pot holing. It’s going down in holes, that’s why we have the word “pot” there. Why do you call it spelunging?

Spelunking. I don’t know. It’s one of my favorite words, though.

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