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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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Page 4 of 8

Yeah, it’s like someone just said, “Look. We’ve got all these letters, can we just make a word out of it? Let’s give it to the guys who go down in the holes because they need a word.” Spelunging. Is it a hard G or a soft G?

It’s a hard K. Spelunking. K-I-N-G.

K-I-N-G. Spelunking. Anyway, so that, and then I went to a boarding school that had an enforced cadet thing for three years, and I was trying to get promotions in that. I did this special course. So military history, military tactics, Battle of Austerlitz, what Napoleon did at Pratzen Heights ... you know that battle?

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No, no, my military history is ... somebody punched me in the shoulder once during Boy Scouts and I quit the next day.

Well, the Battle of Austerlitz is the one to know about because it shows Napoleon at his most cavalier. It’s like almost insane what he did, but because he was traveling on this massive confidence — he did blitzkrieg. The Romans, I think, invented blitzkrieg, or maybe Alexander the Great invented it. Blitzkrieg is just moving faster than any other fucker. That’s the trick of it. And Napoleon did it. He moved his troops about 10 miles faster a day than anyone else, so they turned up places when they weren’t expecting him. And Austerlitz is just weird. There are these things called Pratzen Heights, they’re like a raise in the ground, and he put his troops on it, and then he started shooting the peace with the Austrians. And so the Austrians were going, “Oh, he’s scared.” And he said, “Well, go get your guys up to Pratzen Heights because there’s a good peak there. And so they thought that he was running scared. And he took his people off it, and they put their people on it. And then he just turned around one way and said, “No, fuck it, let’s fight.” And they were totally thrown ’cause they thought he was shooting for peace. And then he had his men creep up to Pratzen Heights and take it again, and then they turned the guns on the Austrians and they said, “Oh, fuck it” and they gave up. It’s just insane what he did there. I find it handy to know these things. I don’t know why, but there you go.

It’s interesting, I should know more about it, I guess.

Well, only if it interests you. I think with all learning you have to go off what appeals to you. I don’t learn a huge amount about curtains.

See, we’re the exact opposite that way. I got the curtain thing down. Hey, how was New Orleans? I noticed that you’re doing a benefit for New Orleans and I was wondering if that was based on an experience that you had down there. Did you perform there during this tour?

Absolutely. I went to New Orleans before Katrina, and that was fun, and I liked it and I liked its European flavor. I feel, being a sort of history student, that I do find the history within the place, which obviously going back a few hundred years becomes European history — I find that fascinating. Because you sit in New Orleans and look out and it’s just like, “Shit, I’m sitting in France,” looking out the window. And then Katrina happened, which was hellish, and then everything got fucked up with the administration at FEMA. The Riches, the pilot, was shot in New Orleans, so I was there for five weeks. We were the first to shoot there after Katrina. And at the time I was thinking, maybe I could do a show here, you know, give some money back, raise some money and give it in. I’ll work something out. And I couldn’t at the time. I had to really come straight on there.

Since then I had been trying to get back there, but it’s been pretty difficult because a number of the venues are still out and the rest are really booked up. So on this one, it wasn’t on the tour list, the tour was not there. And then I said, “Look. By hook or by crook, we are going and I will do a street show if I can’t do a show. I have to do something in New Orleans. Whatever happens, I am going there.” My promoter Arnold Engleman worked very hard on going down there, trying to get through to people, to phone up people, to say, “Can you make a gap and let us get in on one day?” It was quite hard to get in there, which is a little counterintuitive. But anyway, I got in, and it was set up, and we did it. It was good to do. We gave all the money — I think we raised about 80 grand, which we gave to the NHS of New Orleans, which is the Neighborhood Housing Services. They’re working on projects, rebuilding houses, building from scratch, encouraging other architectural schools around the country which are helping — students building things. A lot of stuff that’s coming from people. People power. That thing that sort of goes up and about. Probably the savior of the world will be people power. Just honest-to-goodness people who with whatever voting thing, you know, whatever they see the world, just helping out. You know, that’s probably going to be the savior of the world. That’s what brought down communism, I think. Not Ronald Reagan turning up and saying, “Take down this wall,” but that people thing.

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