Eddie Izzard is a very silly and very funny man. He’s also deceptively wise and free-thinking. No man could run through such a careful narrative of the whole history of humanity, from the beginning of time, dinosaurs, through the stone age, bible stories, Greek wars, organised religions and ‘Charley Darwin’s idea’ without being seriously intelligent.
We missed the first five minutes of his show Stripped at the Lyric Theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue last night due to simply appalling London traffic, but it didn’t matter, because this show was so superb, he might have devised it just for me.
Thanks to his research on Wikipedia, he talked, burbled and mimed his way through an apparently random selection involving three themes I think about a lot: history, religion and the natural world. We heard a lot about squirrels and giant squid; the absurdity of Noahâ€™s ark; the inability of giraffes to vocalise in any way other than a cough; Jesus being the seventh son of God (Asus, Beesus, Ceesus, Deesus, Esus and Effsus being the first six); seamstresses playing the role of photojournalists at the battle of Hastings; and wondered how the fuck did the Romans manage to hold together their empire while speaking an impossibly difficult inflected language: “Quod the fuck?”
Referring to god as Captain Random (though sadly only briefly lapsing into his James Mason voice once) he marvelled at the madness of the human appendix and how Captain Random could’ve made such an almighty mistake. Likewise the four stomachs of a cow. He told us he had two problems with so-called intelligent design: the first being intelligent, the second being design. And any comedian that can weave the lowly and unsung mudskipper into his routine has got to be a winner.
He asked the audience what they thought of the Euro. Would we like it in the UK? he asked. A little cheer followed, including my own. He asked should we want to keep the pound. A huge roar. Would we like to see the pound all over Europe? A massive roar. Same thing, he said.
All this was new material to me, wonderful, thought-provoking and timely new material, though Moth had heard various snatches of it here and there. He was never preachy, but this was a glorious show for the godless. I’m quite sure Eddieâ€™s been reading all the same books as me.