Comedian Eddie Izzard has been the headline act at the Hollywood Bowl and he's packed the house at Madison Square Garden, but now you can see him at a tiny, 90-seat theater in Los Feliz.
This week, Izzard kicked off a series of performances at the Trepany House at the Steve Allen Theater, which will run until Dec. 19. Needless to say, fans are happy to have him in L.A. for this rare chance to catch Izzard in such an intimate setting:
Izzard joins the show to talk about why he's performing in such a small space, and to fill us in about his new show, "Force Majeure," which he'll be taking on the road in Europe next year.
For being so popular why are you currently performing at such a small theatre?
“It’s good for developing new material. Its probably a good idea not to go in front of a ten thousand-seater audience, which you could do but it seems like wasting audience members I noticed that the Stones did this, so I sort of stole this idea from them because I am developing new material right now.”
How do you usually come up with this new material?
“Singers always stand in the shower. Woody Allen just did a film on that, so I have this joke about comedians in the shower...we don’t do that. I get most of my ideas on stage. This is not a style I came up with Lenny Bruce and Richard Pryor did this, Billy Connelly was doing it and he influenced me a lot. You are out there and talking and having a conversation with the audience. So I have little ideas I write down and I just zoom out from the ideas.”
How do you prepare for the shows?
“You don’t, you prepare by being confident. Maybe by doing a gig in Geneva in French, like I did last week. It’s a great training, its advanced navy seal of comedy training. If you do it in French surely in English it’s going to be as easy as falling off of a log. It comes from street performing, which I started out as. You react to whatever is going on, noises…it works.”
Sometimes you seem to be writing things down mid-show, are you really taking notes?
“No. Comedy and life I’ve realized, everything is about how to get out of things that don’t work, you mess up and its about how to get out of the mess up. I find that if I just pretend to scribble things on my left hand, its like a Shakespearean aside, that makes me sound very literate, it’s like a stage direction so the audience can hear the stage directions”
Are your shows very different from night to night?
“I’m supposed to record them, but I can’t remember what I say, I know roughly but I can’t remember specifics. It’s exploring, it’s a conversation with the audience. Molten material is the most interesting. If you can keep it fluid, it’s constantly ready to create new material because I tend to flip off and start creating from a fluid series of ideas and you can say oh let’s go this way. Like Alexander Fleming discovering penicillin by an accident. A lot of accidents have happened in life that have helped us create things. And that’s kind of what I’m doing in comedy…Its live and its controlled by my confidence and if I ever lose that confidence then it becomes a very awkward room.”
A lot of your shows seem to appeal to American sensibilities, how do you tweak them to be international?
“I don’t think that’s true. The theory of the universe isn’t American sensibilities, it’s world, it’s progressive sensibilities. The Santa Barbara ‘Clash of the Titans joke,’ that’s not American that’s Greek Gods, the movies are watched all around the world. I choose universal topics. So I talk about the Tour de France, everyone knows what that is. I will talk about Gods and dinosaurs and monarchy and super markets, haircuts, baked potatoes, rabbits, dung, mattresses, all known all around the world. So I’m talking to progressive, positive thinking, open minded, tolerant people who are going to change the world; they are out there. The Monty Python and the Simpsons audience is out there around the world.”
Do you plan out how to end your shows?
“Normally I work out a shape or a free way route that I am doing and I will know when it comes to the end of that. If you are improvising and trying new stuff you’ve just go to look at a clock…when I was in France I was doing it for a couple of weeks and at one show I was tired so I just thought ‘no one knows when it is supposed to end’ so I just sort of said goodbye and walked off the stage and that was that.”
Exclusive clip from Izzard's performance at the Steve Allen Theater on Dec. 5: