Believe: The Eddie Izzard Story (2009) Script

ANNOUNCER: Weekend Watchdog with Anne Robinson.

ROBINSON: Eddie Izzard still letting down his fans ...flogging old gags.

REPORTER: Eddie and his management didn't want to comment

IZZARD: just felt totally gutted by that WOMAN 1: There's a level of trust that's been removed.

WOMAN 2: A safety thing had gone.

Huge amount riding on it This wasn't just one gig in front of 40 people.

MAN: He sold 350.000 tickets across the world.


My favourite comedian of all time is Eddie Izzard. He's fantastic.

WOMAN 1: There's like a sexiness about him that I like.

I've seen him in a ton of movies and stuff.

Wasn't he in Ocean's Twelve with George Clooney?

Eddie Izzard, yes. Uh, um.

I've never met Eddie, but the people that he hires tell me that he is absolutely wonderful.

He's the guy on The Riches, and a British comedian.

I saw him in Across the Universe as well.

I think he's a great, great actor.

I've seen him on TV and stuff.

I'd heard of him, but I didn't know much about him.

MAN: An actor, comedian, great guy.

I believe the actual pronunciation is "Izzard".

Eddie Izzard?

Izz-ard? Izz... I don't know.

I'm pretty sure his first name's pronounced "Eddie".

WOMAN 2: I know he's really funny.

I think his work is phenomenal. I think he's absolutely brilliant.

He's, like, hilarious.

I'm a huge fan of his work as a, um...

Um, uh...

I don't know what he does.

54 00:02:18,868 --> 00:02:20,506 "Zingelbert Bembledack!


"Yingybert Dambleban.

"Zangelbert Bingledack.

"Slut Bunwallah."

"What?"

"All right, Kringelbert Fishtybuns.

"Steviebuns Buttritrundle."

"What have we got? Zingelbert Bembledack, "Tringelbert Wangledack, Slut Bunwallah, "Gerry Dorsey, Engelbert Humptyback, Zangelbert Bingledack, "Engelbert Humperdinck, Vingerbert Wingeldanck..."

"No, no, go back one, go back one."

"Engelbert Humperdinck."

"That's it!"

69 00:03:47,504 --> 00:03:49,700 IZZARD: Can I get a little more wine?


Thank you.

MICK PERRIN: Normally he will turn over a new four from the previous four.

This time, Eddie has decided to completely leave the old material alone, which is a very dangerous thing.

IZZARD: I'd rather the material all be fantastic.

It's just getting your brain organised that I'm forgetting about

I just wanna... I don't know, I don't know Okay. On standby, Eddie.

-We're about to go. -So, now we go.

I haven't written the second half yet.

PERRIN: Still waiting on clearance, but I think we ought to get there anyway.

83 00:04:48,542 --> 00:04:52,455 Um, yes. So, yes, so, breasts.

85 00:04:54,741 --> 00:04:56,652 What? You know, I just thought...

What was I gonna say about breasts anyway?

What?

89 00:05:02,220 --> 00:05:03,448 Oh, yes. So...

91 00:05:04,819 --> 00:05:08,778 No, no, no, that's not... There was something else I was gonna say.

Yeah, breast... Oh, yeah.

Oh, yes.

You have to take onboard how the audience reacts, because that is your parameter of whether a joke has worked or not.

And that's very, very hard And you can go out on stage and tell a joke that you've told to someone who's roared with laughter and tell it front of 200 people and they sit there in absolute silence.

And your stomach tightens on their behalf.

Well, I was in The Avengers and then Uma Thurman's doubles...

She had two doubles, one was just body double, just for the hell of it, when she was...

Just wanted to go off and have a cigarette.

One was a balletic double, doing things that were balletic.

One was "through the window" type double.

Yeah, those three.

One was just a double, yeah.

And they would keep taking breasts in and out, and say, "Look."

So, I said, "Oh, can I have a pair?"

And they said, "Yeah."

Well, that wasn't very good. Start's all right.

CHIGNELL: No, it's brilliant.

IZZARD: Yeah, well, not so good.

Well, it's just because there's no flow. And there can't be yet...

As soon as I go back, I'm going, "Is that funny? Is that funny?"

PERRIN: You haven't got a pocket or anything, have you?

-For what? -For the paper, so to pull out, maybe, rather than to...

No, but, even that... See, just looking at the thing makes you think, "What do I say next? What do I say next?"

The audience don't mind 'cause they're just loving listening to you.

"Talk about your family.

"Try to think something chronological." Rubbish.

IZZARD: My life story, that'd be good.

PERRIN: Where do you start?

IZZARD: We'll just start with nought and go all the way through.

Here a thing on Yemen.

There's my home town. That's somewhere near Aden.

The port of Aden.

I'm just like Lawrence of Arabia, basically, except he was there for many years and I was there for one year.

My dad was there for eight years though, and my mum was there for five years.

So, my dad has "sand credibility'; is what they call it down there.

'Cause dad spoke Arabic like a native of Belgium and..

138 00:07:29,051 --> 00:07:31,406 In eight years he picked up the Arabic for "One beer."

Arabic for "Two beers."

Arabic for "Three beers, " and that's it.

And if he wanted four beers, he'd go, "Three beer, one beer, please."

"Three beer, one beer."

So, one, two, and three beer, and then Allah willing.

Yeah . -Insha 'Allah.

Insha 'Allah. Yeah.

-It's a good phrase. -You can drop them in. It sounds good.

Yeah, well, all my lads wanted to learn to speak English, so I had to speak English to them all the time.

'Cause, apparently, no one's bothering learning languages any more.

I should go and learn Arabic.

That should be one of the stupid things I keep saying I'm gonna do.

I was born in Yemen, in 1962.

Two years after my brother Mark, in the city of Aden.

There was refinery there that British Petroleum ran.

My dad worked there as an accountant, my mum worked there as a nurse in the BF hospital.

In the end, there was a revolution in Yemen, so I had to get out of there.

My dad said, "We're getting out of here.

"let's go to Northern Ireland, " where it was a lot calmer.

My house is still there in Ashford Drive. I went there.

And bizarrely the woman that bought it from my dad is still living there.

We lived in the same house, and it hadn't changed, it's a bungalow

-Hello. Hello. -Hello, and welcome. Come on in.

-How are you? -Very nice to meet you.

We had the sofa there. There's a photograph taken of us all in front of a slatted blind just like that.

I think a lot of this is in a similar place.

But this carpet does look...

-Identical? -Yeah.

This garden, I mean, all that.

GRANT: That was green, it was still part of the countryside?

IZZARD: And my dad would start the lawnmower.

He'd always take three goes to start it up.

I think he wanted to get a crowd And he was there, one...

178 00:09:32,164 --> 00:09:33,438 No.

180 00:09:39,484 --> 00:09:40,963 Don't think so.

182 00:09:46,164 --> 00:09:48,120 With all these bits to adjust.

This kitchen is very much the same.

We were cooking there with my mother. Well, not... She cooked, and I just cut things up.

And I was about this big.

Just feels like a different life.

My dad said I would adjust the stocking straps on my mum's stockings.

His mother told me that she went into the bathroom on one occasion, and he was dressing up in her clothes.

That had no significance for me at the time.

IZZARD: The idea of wearing a dress was very much a big thing for me, and something that I wanted to experience.

'Cause if you're a transvestite, you're actually a male tomboy.

That's where the sexuality is.

So, running, jumping, climbing trees, putting on makeup when you're up there.

That's where it is.

And I used to keep all my makeup in a squirrel hole, up the tree.

And the squirrel would keep makeup on one side and he'd keep nuts on the other side.

And sometimes I'd get up that tree, that squirrel would be covered in makeup!

205 00:11:04,279 --> 00:11:05,394 "Oh."

"What? Fuck off!"

He seemed to say.

Living here at 5, Ashford Drive, it's really the best part of my childhood.

After that, it just went crap.

Well, if I'd continued having a mother I wouldn't have gone to boarding schools.

I don't remember wanting to perform before she died.

When I was seven, in Eastbourne, I saw this kid getting a lot of reaction off the audience, and I just thought, "I want to do that."

The only thing my mum ever saw me do...

Did she see? No, she was probably too ill to see me do it.

I played a raven, she made this raven outfit.

There was a picture, me in a raven outfit made by my mum.

And she was very ill with cancer at this point So, I played a raven.

I remember not being terribly interested about playing a raven.

And I got a laugh when I didn't really mean to.

And I wasn't that bothered.

Then after that she was dead, and the next thing I was desperate to be in things.

Back in Roman times, when people died, they had professional mourners come in, which is a totally weird idea.

Someone will go, "My husband is dead. There's not enough grief.

"There's not enough grief in this house to warrant his death.

"I wish to beef up the grief!

"Slave, get a message off down to Mourners'R'Us, will you?

"Tell them I wish to beef up the grief!

236 00:12:36,955 --> 00:12:38,866 "Here's 10 denarii for your trouble, and give it straight back.

"You're a slave. What do you think you're doing?"

And up will come a very smooth guy, "Good afternoon, I'm Mr Marcellus. I'm from Mourners'R'Us."

241 00:12:49,954 --> 00:12:52,753 "Just a free sample there. Now..."

And the day it happened, Dad came and took us home.

And he told us that Mum had died.

So, we sat down in the lounge and we cried for a long time.

So, then we went on a tour of Ireland We'd been happy in Ireland

And now that Mum was no longer there, I could sit in the front seat for the first time.

Though I had bad travel sickness, I just sang the theme to White Horses over and over again.

252 00:13:49,430 --> 00:13:51,421


I'm like someone who hears several radio channels going, "Shh."

255 00:14:23,428 --> 00:14:25,384 -CHIGNELL: You've got five minutes. -How long is it?

PERRIN: Five minutes. CHIGNELL: Oh! Five minutes

-to drink as much as fast as you can. -IZZARD: It's three in reality.

Normally, I'd start with the old tour.

At the moment, I'm trying to start without doing the old tour.

I'd start with the old tour and then you can just have that material, then you improvise doing some good, solid material.

Then people laugh, they had the good solid material but you can improvise off it. You keep the improv, you dump the old stuff gradually.

You dump all the old stuff and have a load of new stuff.

But this is like not having the backup of something.

Even though I should try and do it. I don't know.

269 00:15:12,945 --> 00:15:14,173

This is going to be weird.

It's going to be crap.

So, if this is crap...

Just to say, "Hey, it's crap on tour."

Work in progress.

Has this got "work in progress" on the advertising? It has got...


277 00:16:22,502 --> 00:16:23,537

PETER PYEMONT: I remember his father coming in to see us, and explaining the family situation.

The mother had indeed died.

And the father's only answer seemed to be a boarding school.

The boys were very young, but it did seem a reasonable answer.

IZZARD: I used to cry a lot.

I would have fights as well, because I was an angry kid And I had a fight, when I started crying first, and I realised you can't get out of crying once you start it, 'cause it has all started coming down your face.

So, I thought crying equals losing in arguments.

Therefore, do not cry So, I didn't cry from then on.

I had, sort of, no emotions.

That's what a lot of kids who come out of boarding school are like.

They have no emotions, no feelings.

'Cause that's your survival technique.

PYEMONT: He had a collection of teddies that he was very close to, that he used to keep on his bed Seven or eight of them.

And he used to re-enact tales, theatre, with these teddies.

IZZARD: Ta-na!

PYEMONT: And, actually, he was marvellous mimic.

IZZARD: "What do you want, little kid?"

"I want to be in the school play."

"No you're not, joker."

"No, I'm not." "Yes, you are."

He did it in front of his friends, fine, and then they summoned up courage, and matron was brought into the picture and she was quite a strict lady.

And to get matron sitting down and watching it...

And then, yes, headmaster and wife.

And we had some lovely little theatricals.

IZZARD: When I was seven I wanted to act.

And I auditioned for all the school things.

But, no, I was relegated to playing clarinet in the school orchestra.

I played third clarinet, right, in the school band Now, first clarinets play the melody, that's okay, you know where you're going.

Second clarinets play harmonies that backup the melody, and sort of link, okay Third clarinets play the notes that are left over.

You're just going...

320 00:18:19,649 --> 00:18:21,048 It's boring.

The only exciting way to do it is really blow it loud.

323 00:18:27,848 --> 00:18:29,486 The teacher's going, "Piano! Piano!"

You're going, "It's not a fucking piano. It's a clarinet."

Very soon after that, though, they did Beauty and the Beast and I didn't get any of the good parts.

I would play the street urchin with all the rest of the bozos in the class who couldn't do anything.

And we had a collective line, that was, "Oh, Beauty, don't go."

And I worked out that when it came to our line, and if I went, "Oh, Beauty, don't go," very fast, then it became my line.

And all the other kids were going, "Oh, he's already said it."

I think, "Oh, forget about it."

At 11, I played Trebonius who's the one conspirator who doesn't actually stab Caesar, so that's no good He'd just take Mark Anthony to one side and stand in the wings, while all the kids with the plastic daggers have fun.

I think it was Andrew Boxer who sat me down and said, "What kind of role are you looking for?"

I thought it was a bizarre question because I thought, "Big, you know, that big, huge lead role that gets off with the women.

"And big, you know, ego waving, on all the time kind of role."

And he said, "Well, what about jailer?"

And I thought, "No, that doesn't quite sound right."

My abiding memory of St Bede's was the South Downs.

The first team had to run up and down a very steep slope.

And I used to run and I used to think, it's cold and wet and this is pointless and I remember the teacher going, "That's why Izzard's in the team.

"Because he just pushes so hard to run."

People live their lives, they retire, they move to Eastbourne, then they live a little bit longer.

And then they die.

And then they move to Bexhill, all right?

There's just no one to play with when I was growing up.

I had to play with Mrs Stevens who was 76, you know ANNOUNCER: The English Channel, 1941.

360 00:20:18,524 --> 00:20:20,003 MAN: Any questions?

OLD WOMAN: Yes. Where are my legs?

You couldn't escape from the military background here, because in my last year, my school set year of 1944-45, we had regular doodlebugs.

They were a flying bomb, they had no pilot, and they were very fast.

All you did was get under the desk But we had hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of doodlebugs across Bexhill.

IZZARD: One morning, there was huge explosion, and we learnt at breakfast that an unexploded World War II mine had hit the cliff at Beachy Head and blown up.

So, the stuff's still floating around out there.

And these kids would play on the South Downs, and there'll be bomb craters.

You just go and play in the bomb craters.

That's just where bombs are blown up from German Heinkels dumping their bombs on their way back I got really fascinated by the SAS, the Special Air Service.

I joined the Combined Cadet Force, and I was considering doing a officer cadetship.

Soldiering appealed to me because it was unemotional, tactical, dealing with a situation.

When the chips are down, you stand up for your friends, or for your family, or country

387 00:21:33,795 --> 00:21:36,992 That was a barrel organ version of Jerusalem.

It's a hymn, you know, one that we'd sing in church.

And it's got really weird lines in it.

"And shall my sword sleep in my hand."

Not a good idea!

You're gonna roll over and cut your bits off, aren't you?

And then it's that Godfather scene of...

395 00:21:53,833 --> 00:21:56,222 "A head of a horse and my willy."

397 00:22:06,433 --> 00:22:11,143 When I was 16, I made a mental decision, "I'm absolutely gonna be an actor."

No question about it.

I didn't seem right for doing drama because I'd lost all my confidence in puberty.

And I couldn't do lead male parts

'cause I was kind of short and couldn't get off with girls.

And then I had to chat up girls.

And I had never used my vocal ability to chat up girls.

And when your voice is breaking it's very hard!

It's going, "Why, Susan, I really fancy you.

"I saw you in the playground."

I had to chat up girls, and I'd only tagged them before, and I didn't have the verbal power to be able to say, "Susan, I saw you in the classroom today.

"As the sun came from behind the clouds, "a burst of brilliant light caught your hair, "it was haloed in front of me.

"You turned, your eyes flashed fire into my soul, "I immediately read the words of Dostoyevsky and Karl Marx.

"And in the words of Albert Schweitzer, 'I fancy you.'"

419 00:23:07,347 --> 00:23:10,738 But no. At 13, you're just going, "Hello, Sue.

"I've got legs.

"Do you like bread?

"I've got a French loaf.

"Bye! I love you!"

I'm not sure any of us got lucky back then.

It was actually very unfortunate because there were maybe 30 girls to 120 boys.

So, it was a challenge, even on a good day.

IZZARD: We didn't do mathematics together.

We sort of did mathematics together but what we did was we cheated our way up to...

-What did you get in math? -HERZ: Oh, God.

IZZARD: 'Cause he got expelled HERZ: I got two Bs and a D.

IZZARD: Yeah, he got a B in maths, and I got an A in maths, We made nitro-glycerine.

'Cause there was a book that had all these things, make soap, I think, make nitro-glycerine. So, we made it.

And we tried to blow-up this old lady who was the matron of this place.

So, we poured it on the floor and we thought she might stand on it and go boom.

One teacher said to me, "Yeah, I saw the play, Izzard.

"Not exactly Shakespeare, is it?

"What are you going to do when you grow up, Izzard?"

"Transvestite comedian, sir."

"Hopefully do Broadway. Yes."

Yes.

What a weird thing to say to me.

I did audition in the Shaw Theatre which ended up being the place where I did Raging Bull years later.

For the National Youth Theatre. I'd learnt these speeches, one from Henry IV, Part 1, and one from Becket.

And I was very calm. I wanted to be very calm and knock them out and be very confident.

And I got the confidence together, but somehow confidence and memory were not allowed in the body at the same time at that point.

So I was very relaxed when I got there. I said, "Yes, good to see you. Yes.

"I'll do these parts and I'll just read them out to you, shall I?"

So I'm standing in my future dressing room going...

460 00:25:17,700 --> 00:25:19,054 "Sons..."

He says, "Well, try the other speech. The Becket one."

463 00:25:24,259 --> 00:25:26,057 Nothing. just completely dry.

And he said, "Well, you better go, you're crap.

"You're a crap kid, you know?" No, he didn't say that, but he said, "Well, I'll let you... I won't even bother letting you know."

If The Goon Show was the Old Testament, then Monty Python was the New Testament.

We used to recite their sketches at school And as soon as I found out that they wrote their own sketches, then I thought, "I have to do this."

I thought I will do what Monty Python does.

I will write my own stuff, give myself a big role.

Personal nepotism, I called it.

I found out that they were at Cambridge Footlights.

So I thought I'll get to Cambridge.

Good evening, ladies and gentlemen.

Here we are tonight, behind camouflage, at the Iranian Embassy, here in Eastbourne.

It had moved down here for safety reasons.

And upstairs, we have some really bad Iranians up there.

And we've got one here, our resident idiot.

Come here, resident idiot.

Here we have resident idiot, Cyrus Amin. Amini, with the 'I".

And we also have someone watching us from a distance, but it doesn't matter.

And upstairs we have the SAS trying to break in and get free the hostages.

What do you think about that, Cyrus?

489 00:26:34,133 --> 00:26:36,726 Perhaps, it would be wise here to go to our London studios.

MAN: Mathematics, attentive, searching and industrious.

A+. Good show IZZARD: In chemistry, there was a Doctor Edmondson teaching.

And he had this thing, he would say, "We will take the sodium chloride

"and then we stick it..."

And he'd just leave a gap there when he was gonna say...

And I'd say, "In the bin." "No, not in the bin."

"Stick it in your ear?" "Not in your ear. Shut up, Izzard "

And I made a mental decision, I said, "I will use this lesson in particular, "to up my comedy hit rate." 'Cause I was getting laughs.

And that was obviously gonna get me noticed.

And, so, by the summertime I remember this girl said to me, "I didn't even know you existed until now."

Hey, plan number one in the bag.

MAN: He has been a very lazy boy.

A long way from the standard Cambridge University reguires.

Fail! See me afterwards.

IZZARD: So I didn't get to Cambridge, but then I realised the Edinburgh Festival was more key, really And Dad wanted me to go to university.

So I'd go to Sheffield, go to Edinburgh. Learn the ropes.

Do a comedy show, take off.

Get a television series by the time I was 25.

That was the deal.

He was just basically applying vague models he had, like...

Well, I know Not The 9 O'clock News were Cambridge Footlights, and Cambridge Footlights go to Edinburgh.

But I got there and I said, "Right, I'm here.

"I've come to the Edinburgh Festival. Who goes to the Edinburgh Festival?

"I will clean your floors I will swab things down.

"I will mend tractors. What do you need?

"I am the perfect helping person."

And they said, "Oh, we don't go to Edinburgh."

"No, I'm here. I'm doing a degree course for no reason

"just purely to go to the Edinburgh Festival.

"You, everyone at the university, they go to Edinburgh...

"Someone's going, aren't they?"

"No, someone went about three years ago, lost a lot of money, so we don't go."

So I was pole-axed by this thing which I hadn't bothered to check out or didn't think would happen, that no one in Sheffield Uni was going.

So I thought, "I'll take my own show up to the Edinburgh Festival."

MAN: Right, okay, so what is SUF?

SUF, Sheffield University Fringe, are a group of self-financed, self-educated, self-propelled rug weavers.

IZZARD: They took this crap show, it was completely crap.

It was so crap sometimes we would laugh onstage 'cause no one was laughing, and then run off stage.

I believe that this is a mini West End coming to Sheffield. Yes.

MAN 1: Eddie would like to be the funniest person in Cheshire, but the competition is very strong.

A lot of morale and everybody's very keen for the show to work.

MAN 2: Rob Ballard is the wisest person we know He once came third in a "Wisest Person We Know" competition.

545 00:29:34,359 --> 00:29:35,793 Look!

I think something's up here!

I think you're right. Professor Who is not here.

It was really awful, but it happened.

IAN ROWLAND: He did get us all up to Edinburgh.

We were part of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

MAN 3: Ian Rowland's sense of humour is dangerous.

His sense of smell is the strongest of the whole group.

What came across was this absolutely cast-iron determination to make things happen.

HAROLD: In Sheffield, you had to pass first year exams to stay on.

And he didn't do the work.

He was busy taking his show up to Edinburgh Festival.

He was thrown out, really.

ANNOUNCER: Ben-Hur, The Street Show.

561 00:30:18,158 --> 00:30:19,956 IZZARD: So, Sheffield University threw me out.

But I didn't leave.

I stayed on people's floors and I continued doing shows through the students' union, due to a loophole, which was fantastic.

And I went on to the Edinburgh Festival, kept going back to the Edinburgh Festival for the next two years and did shows that were staggeringly slightly better.

Edinburgh, you just had to be good at marketing and promoting and postering and designing things because there's 500 shows, 7,000 shows you're competing with.

ROWLAND: This is how he started, eating polystyrene cups.

And you just announce that you're going to eat them and you do. And he used to give himself terrible sort of, cuts and ulcers and things inside his mouth.

But it was very, very funny During those two or three minutes, that's when you can give out your fliers and your leaflets and publicise your show IZZARD: In the old days, adverts were much more blatant.

Adverts were much more, "Go on, there it is. Come on.

"I haven't got all day, there it is."

And as consumers we were much more, "Okay, I didn't realise. Sorry.

"Sorry. Don't hit me."

Nowadays we have choice, don't we?

We're much more choosy and we're much more aware of what we can buy.

So the adverts are more subtle.

They are the soft sell. Adverts are much more like...

591 00:31:32,589 --> 00:31:34,148 "Oh, look at that.

"Those two people like it. And they're shagging."

594 00:31:41,387 --> 00:31:44,823 ROWLAND: We were putting on a lunchtime performance of Ben-Hur,

with no money, no budget, nothing. No costumes, no props.

Every toga was a bed sheet, and every bed sheet is a toga, and every horse is just a cardboard cut-out from a Kellogg's cereal packet or something.

The scale of the ambition was massive and insane.

Eddie used to get himself into terrible financial straits trying to make these things happen.

We'd do the show once in Sheffield, lose a little bit of money Take it up to Edinburgh, lose more.

And then we'd have to come back down to Sheffield and put it on again for another week on a public basis, trying to get more people to come and see this.

We were on at 12 noon, the first show we did, and nobody came. later in the evening, we would do a show called World War II - The Sequel.

IZZARD: So on behalf of me, Adolf Hitler and..

WOMAN: And me Eva Braun.

IZZARD: We cordially invite you to come and see World War II - The Sequel.

IZZARD: That year the Cambridge Footlights turned up.

So it was us against them in my mind I can distinctly remember us looking at them, going, "Hah! Who are they?"

IZZARD: They just happened to be Stephen Fry, Hugh Laurie, Emma Thompson.

And I thought if there was a God the Footlights would be awful But they were kind of spellbinding.

And they won the Perrier We were taken out and shot, by the guy who ran the venue.

624 00:32:56,540 --> 00:33:01,660 We weren't even within biting distance, except for one sketch that got put on

this radio programme, Aspects of the Fringe.

So I did come close to standing next to these guys who had done the Footlights but the show that we'd worked on was terrible compared to them.

He went up to the Assembly Rooms.

"Oh, yes, we'll be wanting the Ballroom.

"Right! Probably about 9:00"; and the guy goes, "You realise that's about £10,000?" ludicrous sums of money

"Oh, yeah, that wouldn't be a problem, I don't think "

Mr Burdett-Coutts. Come here.

Do you remember when I came to your house and asked you, the second you opened, I said, "Could you dump the Perrier?"

-Do you remember that in Camberwell? -I do.

And you had this option of dumping the Perrier winners and me with no reviews, and I worked out there was no reason except that the venue owner told me our show was shit.

That was 'cause hutzpah, wasn't it?

That was. You always had great hutzpah.

I was good on the hutzpah.

And so, I've never actually played your venue.

No, your time will come.

I got another venue that was half way to Glasgow.

And I did a show called Sherlock Holmes Sings Country.

And The Scotsman said we were a load of shabby old tat.

But they did leave a sentence in that said, "But sometimes they come up with something

"which is completely unexpected and devastatingly funny "

And that was the only good quote I had for about 10 years.

So, yes, that was all the beginning of continued nothingness.

But it was actually fantastic for me because I was trained by marching through hell, basically.

Set was okay but I lost a bit in the second half.

How did I lose it?

Gave up on my life story?

I thought, "Oh, there's nothing more to talk about?"

Now I was selling ice creams, 'cause they had.. Right down here they have an ice cream kiosk Initially I was just talking about anything and I was trying to make it into material.

Being in a kiosk and selling ice creams has now become a piece and I'm not really talking about anything else.

And I like retail, I like the idea of running a sweet shop.

I always wanted to do that.

I'm just jumping to the next bit, or cycling back to Wales or something.

But I need to keep it open, I need to...

I need to be able to chat.

So I lost a bit in the second half. How long was that? Anyone know?

675 00:35:30,809 --> 00:35:35,042 First encountered Rob Ballard at the Students' Union in Sheffield

He had the energy thing that I didn't.

He had a band and I had a comedy group.

So I just grabbed Rob and said, "You're in it

"'cause you're funny and we're all hanging around you."

So he was in it, and he was great, and he was energetic and crazy, and that's how it started.

683 00:36:02,768 --> 00:36:03,963

I was too scared to perform on my own at that point.

So we became a double act in about 85-85.

We'd seen Pookiesnackenburger doing...

Pookiesnackenburger is Luke Cresswell who is Stomp.

That's a really interesting medium, the street performing stuff When you work on the street, you have to make the crowd come to you.

You have to force them to come to you, otherwise you don't eat, basically.

IZZARD: We came down, thinking that we would get the medium of street performing within two weeks.

I was sure, two weeks, and then we'd be really good BALLARD: A lot of the acts were very new and different.

And they were very, you know, some really good performers down there.

IZZARD: First show was at Covent Garden, we were doing bad tricks.

At its best, it was crazy At its worst it was shite.

700 00:36:58,807 --> 00:37:02,357 Their act was very basic that had a lot of toys

to gather the audience. Eating cornflakes, escaping from jumpers.

We sort of wanted to say, "You know what we've done before.

"We've done shows at the Edinburgh Festival

"with lights and things, and audiences and tickets.

"No one here's done tickets, we've done tickets, "

And then we were just terrible.

It was real moronic stuff and then they came up with the sword fighting show, which was really good.

-Roberto! -Edwardo.

En garde!

714 00:37:28,442 --> 00:37:30,831 IZZARD: I've directed Robin, The Three Musketeers at college.

I thought, we'll do the swords. So we bought some foils.

And we started doing stuff and it was very flashy VINCENT: And Eddie became very flamboyant Suddenly, in his mind, he had to be D'Artagnan.

IZZARD: There was a street performers festival in the summer, I thought we could aim for that.

We worked out routines, we were getting laughs, we were earning better money And we didn't even win our own comedy section.

And that's when I just thought, "Oh, well."

Except I'd fallen back, regrouped, come back, attacked and just failed again.

I was going around saying "This is just not my millennia, " which I thought was very droll.

BALLARD: On his 24th birthday, he was sort of pissed off I was going, "What? What is it? You're 24, what's wrong?"

"Oh, well, by the time he was 24..." "Yeah?"

"Orson Welles had directed Citizen Kane."

And you sort of went, "Oh, right.

"You're pissed off 'cause you haven't directed the best movie

"probably that's ever been made before you're 24."

I think that's a secretly accurate portrayal.

IZZARD: We're street performing. It's the hardest thing.

You're performing to people who don't want to watch it in the first place.

I basically brought myself down to zero confidence at Covent Garden.

740 00:38:54,600 --> 00:38:57,479 And Rob would take holidays and he did it quite often.

So I could do nothing.

I realised I was developing a kind of thing with the audience.

And I could feel it.

But as a double act, you're just sitting on your arse, waiting for the other person to come back and it felt useless.

Morning, Mr Smith. How are you feeling today?

Oh, fine!

IZZARD: Comedy Wavelength was this programme on Channel 4.

And they said, "Look, comedy writers."

So they accepted a couple of the sketches for the pilot.

And then Rob was in it, and then they said I wasn't in it.

And I was probably jealous of Rob at the time.

And I kept auditioning to try and act with them.

And the producer said, "Look, you're not a performer.

"You're a writer, but you're not a performer."

And that totally screwed with my brain, because the one thing I was sure of I was a performer.

Maybe a writer, but definitely a performer.

And I'd been in a four person act, and then a two person act, I never thought I could be solo.

I never imagined I could be solo.

Paul Keane used to perform as Captain Keano.

He could be hellish, he could be obnoxious, he could be brilliant and generous.

He had a demeanour as king of Covent Garden.

When I am famous, I'll tell you what, I'll still do my show on the cobbles here at Covent Garden.

So Rob went on a holiday and I said, "I didn't know you're going on a holiday."

And he was off for a week or so.

Paul Keane had some ropes and chains for his escapology, and I said, "Can I borrow your ropes and chains?"

So I went out with the ropes and chains one Saturday in about '87, and I strapped them on, did the show, made £10 and that was it. I split up with Rob two weeks later.

As soon as I'd gone solo, it was just a release.

779 00:40:32,391 --> 00:40:36,862 I'd never seen anybody work so hard at riding a unicycle as he did.

He was just on it, you know, constantly.

He knew that he split up with Rob, wanted to do his solo show, and was just really manically learning everything that he possibly could.

IZZARD: Once I was tied up by someone really tight in my ropes and chains and I couldn't get out.

And I had to dismiss the audience and ask some friends to get me out.

Paul said to me, "If you think you can't get out you will not be able to get out."

790 00:41:09,430 --> 00:41:12,900 You have to believe you can get out. It's psychological

You've got to believe you can be a stand-up before you can be a stand-up.

You gotta believe you can act before you can act.

You gotta believe you can be an astronaut before you can be an astronaut.

You've got to believe.

You've got to imagine yourself in that situation.

The careers advisor used to come to school And he took me aside. He said, "Tell me. Tell me your dreams."

I said, "I want to be a space astronaut, go to outer space, discover things

"that have never been discovered "

He said, "Look, you're British, so scale it down a bit, all right?"

If I start apologising too much, saying, "Oh, it's not funny," then I'll lose it.

It's very psychological.

It's very much, um...

Uh...

When I used to do the unicycle at Covent Garden.

You have to practise at Covent Garden.

You have to find a big open space and so you're doing it at Covent Garden.

If someone walks by...

Lads would walk by going, "Hey, mate, you're gonna fall off.

"You're gonna fall off. Hey, you are gonna fall off."

And so you think, "Don't fall off. Don't fall off. Don't fall off."

Immediately you fall off 'cause you're thinking it.

And what you actually had to do is, when they say, "Hey, you're gonna fall off," Is just blank your mind.

Have no thoughts in there at all and just keep...spaced-out.

And that's like here, I've got to keep the fear.

I've got to block the fear out

of not being interesting and just chat.

In the summer of '87, I was street performing at a festival.

And these visual guys came by.

One guy had a helmet on with a steel girder with flaming kebabs coming off it.

And I realised that I couldn't compete with this guy.

There's no way I can do street performing.

I can't compete with a guy with flaming bits of meat attached to his head.

So I thought, right, forget street.

I'm developing something here, but I've got to do stand-up.

But I didn't know how I was already an experienced performer.

And I had experience with the energy of an audience, how to deal with them.

If you stay back there we're gonna do the show right...

But not of writing ideas down as myself because I was dyslexic When I was a kid, I would spell phonetically And we'd do the game of "I spy" with my dad and my brother.

I remember going, "S, a word beginning with S."

And that was ceiling. "K" and that was cat.

And they'd spend hours trying to get these words, and they could never get them. later on, I got the impression that probably was what being dyslexic was.

I was fully dyslexic until I met someone who was more dyslexic than me and said, "You're only partially dyslexic "

There's a lot of rivalry in the dyslexic camp, you know.

Rivalry with three Vs.

It makes you think in a creative way.

You see shapes and you see things inside shapes.

You see clouds and see lions and tigers up there.

So I went and got a tape recorder.

And I thought I'll just ad-lib into the tape recorder and then write that out. That'll be stand-up.

It didn't work.

They did a stand-up workshop at a place called Jacksons Lane.

Patrick Marber, who was a stand-up at that point became a playwright who's written Dealer's Choice and Closer.

We were very spiky with each other. He did an impression of me in that workshop, where he went, "Uh... Yeah, yeah, yeah. Blah, blah, blah, street.

"Blah, blah, blah, blah, street."

And I thought, "Oh, God, he must be really annoyed with me."

'Cause I was obviously just going on and on about this thing.

I'd written loads of sketches at university, and, in the end, I took a sketch, which was a two-person sketch, and I cannibalised it, cutting out the interviewer and just made it into a one-person sketch about being addicted to breakfast cereal.

And that got laughs, and I thought, "Well, if that gets laughs

"I could do more like that. I could just write them as two persons, "cut them in half, make them one person, "and I could do my whole career that way."

Remember, in the '70s, there was all that work done with monkeys.

The signing thing.

"Hey, you're a monkey." "Yeah, I am a monkey."

"So what's it like being a monkey?"

"Not bad. Not bad."

"What's it like being a human?"

"Pretty good."

"Can I have a banana?"

"No, I have no bananas on this day."

"You have no bananas?

"Well, if you have no bananas, I'm not fucking talking to you."

"What's that mean?"

"I don't know, I just ad-libbed it.

"Give me a fucking banana.

"Give me a fucking banana."

"All right."

"What do you wanna know?"

"Well, how does the monkey community interact?"

"You know, in the usual way.

"Give me another banana."

"No. No more bananas."

"I've got a gun."

"You didn't even sign that time."

"I know."

So, in the end, I decided to just work on one show until it was good, and then people would come.

As opposed to write shoddy quick stuff and then shove it into people's faces and say, "Look, it's brilliant."

'Cause it wasn't.

The only way you could get good was by doing gigs.

And you couldn't get the gigs.

You could get these open spots which were unpaid five minutes that you would phone up and ask for one, and they'd give you one three months ahead, just one.

908 00:46:46,726 --> 00:46:48,762 Well, done Harlow, that was good.

Sometimes you can actually get on stage and the applause is still going while you're there.

Once I got a few bookings going, I'd said, "I'll do compering."

And then they said, "Oh, you will? Well, have three then."

The host seems a lower status thing. People would say to you, "You're quite good, you should be one of the acts."

I'd say, "I am one of the acts."

But the audience wouldn't realise this.

And the stand-ups didn't like doing it, 'cause you have to tell people to shut up, sit down, get your drinks at the bar.

And they hated that. They just wanted to talk funny stuff All street performers have to be comperes.

We wrangle the audience into a shape, so we're hosting our own show So we were already trained in it.

And I was just relentlessly working.

I was in Streatham on a Monday night And they would not laugh.

I'd just talk endlessly and then I'd bring acts on and I could smash an atmosphere into people until they thought, "All right, he seems okay "

And I felt it was coming through, so I was just grabbing it.

I did a couple of the Screaming Blue Murders, where I was just doing real basic gags and he was compering them.

You know, he would go out, and for five minutes just...

They would love him.

And then he would go down a tangent that would just, you know, stink the room out.

Yeah, Harlow, you've seen it all before, haven't you?

You've seen something before, haven't you?

You've seen, I don't know... You've seen me before.

I've seen you before.

Oh, God, we're gonna have a horrible time here.

Well, everyone just talk amongst yourselves actually.

But he was taking those risks that nobody else was taking.

Nobody ever thought about taking risks.

You only did things that you knew which would satisfy an audience.

You're on a trapeze and you know you're safe on the trapeze.

And then you let go and you fly.

And the audience goes, "Is he fucking gonna catch it?

"Is he gonna catch that trapeze? I don't know "

But the audience loves the gap between the two trapezes.

951 00:48:31,997 --> 00:48:33,795 There's that great fairy story of Idi Amin

goes around to the Duvalier house.

And there he gets in, it's in the middle of the woods.

He goes in there and there's porridge on the table.

He tries Papa Doc Duvalier's porridge.

"Ooh! Oh, it's too hot."

Then he tries Mama Doc Duvalier's porridge.

"Oh, it's too cold." Then he tries Baby Doc Duvalier's.

"Mmm. It's just the right temperature." So he gobbles it all up.

Then he nips upstairs, he's a bit tired.

There are three beds. Papa Doc Duvalier's bed.

"Oh, a bit too hard." Mama Doc's, "Mmm, bit too soft."

Baby Doc Duvalier's, "just right."

So Idi gets in and falls asleep.

And then the Duvaliers come back and they find him and they skin him.

968 00:49:17,752 --> 00:49:21,632 I don't know what to do with that piece of material, but I like it.

It's wonderfully sick, but sort of needed kind of thing.

In the summer of '83, I decided to go back to Edinburgh yet again.

This time as a stand-up.

I decided to do an hour and five minutes.

As soon as you've committed yourself so much, that you can stand up and do an hour, I think you've really...

You've decided that's what you want to do.

IZZARD: I did a show at Edinburgh Festival.

I was setting up, and it was just me, there was no one else in the area.

There was one man standing watching.

And then he went, "Oh!" And then ran off in the opposite direction.

And I thought, "Well, that's not very helpful."

A few minutes and he came back, and he'd dragged his entire family up the hill, and said, "Watch this."

And I thought, "This is it. That's it. That's the thing I'm trying to get."

Good afternoon, Edinburgh!

I was doing three shows, two street performances, and the one stand-up in the first year, and I got completely ill doing it I should also put out that I'm doing a stand-up show every night.

I got loads of leaflets. My name is Eddie Izzard.

It's a rather strange name. It's got two Z's in it.

And it's going on every night.

I got loads of details about it.

I think it's fun. It's an hour and five minutes.

It's on tonight. I like it.

-MAN: Are you ready? -I certainly am, old chap!

MAN: Are you steady?

Yes, this is an enormous build-up, isn't it?

-Go! -Okay. Right.

CROWD: Five, four, three, two, one.

1002 00:51:04,826 --> 00:51:08,342 Very good, very good, very good.

PYEMONT: Elspeth and I found ourselves at the Edinburgh Festival And suddenly, there in front of us, was a notice, Eddie Izzard.

We got tickets to what I think may have been, pretty well, his first professional show.

I saw them. My old headmaster.

And I go...

"Oh, shit."

And for one hour, we fell about.

Why do they say, "Blood is thicker than water"?

It's a strange expression. I was thinking about this.

"Blood is thicker than water," means, that you should be kind to your relatives.

But custard is thicker than blood.

Does this mean we should be nice to trifles?

MAN: "He's a smashing bloke, but there are a good few shows

"you should catch before this one.

"William Cook "

SARAH TOWNSEND: I was a student and I was running a venue in Edinburgh for the Festival.

IZZARD: I went up to this woman, she was running a venue called Greyfriars Kirk House.

She had a slot.

And I looked at one other venue, and they may have had a slot.

And I thought, "No, I think I'll go with her, "'cause I think I fancy her more."

TOWNSEND: He couldn't afford to take a slot on his own, so he went in with another comedian, and the two of them took the slot.

It was a way for me to get my plays on, because I could hire a venue and afford to put my play on in there and not lose money like everybody else because I was running the venue, too.

IZZARD: She had 15 shows in here and I realised how much energy it took to set it up.

'Cause I've never set up a venue.

He hadn't perfected his technique at that point.

IZZARD: I remember your accounting was terrible.

TOWNSEND: He would turn up to the venue every day, checking his box office figures.

When there would be half a dozen people in the audience, I fell asleep in the show.

We just sort of hung out, and then afterwards, I asked you to come to something, and you said no.

And then your dad said you should change your mind, and so you said yes.

After the Festival I came back to London, and I invited Sarah back to my flat, in Streatham.

And I don't think she was terribly impressed, 'cause it was like a mattress, small black and white television and all my stuff was in black plastic bin bags.

Kind of stylish.

But I seem to remember she liked my map.

And had a colour-coded flag system.

And I'd stick a flag in, different colours, if I'd stormed it, if I'd died, if I'd been booked back After each gig, I'd come home and I'd write down my set list for the night And what worked, what didn't work, any good improv, how the audience reacted And with that system, I relentlessly worked my way through the circuit.

JULIAN MOSES: I remember when he first played Quite a lot of rubbish really.

A lot of things that people didn't understand, didn't like.

Got quite a few heckles.

IZZARD: My uncle always used to say, he used to say, "Remember, you can take a horse to water, "but you can't take him to a disco."

I kept playing in The Comedy Store and failing, so I thought, "I'm just gonna stay away from here

"until I'm good enough to come back and blow the roof off "

CHIGNELL: He was doing, sort of, slightly surreal humour, but he, by no means had found his, you know, the place where he should be.

In this country, when comedy is at its best, is when there's a Tory government, when there's something to rebel against.

Satire in the '60s was at its height because there was a Tory government.

As soon as Wilson came in, voom, it slips away, we had the mainstream, you know, men going, "My mother-in-law, my mother-in-law "

Thatcher came in, alternative comedy was at its height.

We have a war, everybody has to say things about it.

We got Ben Elton, Mark Thomas, Mark Steel, these strong, political comedians.

And suddenly, through it all, there was this guy just talking about being brought up by wolves.

And it was just incredible. He died so regularly.

But, you know, he stuck with it.

He went, "No, this is what I find funny."

IZZARD: Well, there was a night at the Comedy Store in London, where another comic called Bob Mills comes up to me and said, "Look, they're wild and they're cranky, and tonight is not the time for your

"'I went to school with Pérez de Cuéllar" bit.

And I said, "I've got to do that. That's all I've got."

I just talked at this speed.

"So, my mother went out

"and she said to him, 'Why are you doing that?'"

So, they didn't really understand. So, I went...

I never took a breath. I never went in there...

'Cause I knew in that breath someone would go, "You cunt."

The people down in the front who were actually attacking you under your radar, 'cause you're playing out here, they would gradually quieten down because you're getting laugh, laugh, laugh, laugh, laugh, laugh...

Twenty minutes, and then, "Good night"

And then the bottle would go, "Hey, they like you. You can come back tomorrow."

MAN: "His off-the-cuff humour beats most impro hollow

"Heckle at your peril. William Cook "

IZZARD: You have to understand what the comedy circuit in London was like in the '90s.

It became the biggest thing in the world There was about 70 clubs in New York, and there were 80 clubs in London.

And people were gigging at least twice a night At the weekends, four times a night You'd do a gig, and you'd jump in a black cab, and you'd scoot off to somewhere in London, and then you'd come back in another cab.

We kind of owned that town.

And the audiences were coming. They didn't care who was on as long as they were good Didn't know our names. No one was famous.

And it was all cash in hand Pocket stuffed with fivers and tenners and twenties...

And drugs and weed, and whatever you kind of want, it was there.

And everyone was doing it, and gigging, and drinking like idiots.

And none of us were known. And it was great.

TOWNSEND: He decided he should open in some comedy club and compere and he'd be getting more exposure.

VINCENT: Here I'm in the world of strip joints and there's this sort of, like, big black and yellow sign hanging in Soho.

People must have walked past it and gone, "I wonder what's that about."

IZZARD: I'd set up my own club in the centre of town, in order to be hosting a club every week, be right at the centre of things.

VINCENT: That Eddie's thinking immediately, "I will host it, I'll get big names in, but people will be seeing me."

I remember people walking around with Raging Bull badges, and the Raging Bull logo.

There's his marketing working out.

TOWNSEND: When I managed his club, people liked to come and play there, even though the money wasn't great.

IZZARD: It was really tough, and I couldn't make the money, and the rent was too high, and I had to do other gigs around this gig in order to pay for the bills.

TOWNSEND: He lost so much money in that one year that the VAT man didn't believe that he really could have and investigated him and eventually found it really was just a mad person throwing their money away IZZARD: But it gave me this place.

People seemed to be coming and watching what I was doing.

CHIGNELL: It was just packed And I stood at the bar 'cause it was the only place I could get in.

You just felt that he had something special.

He just seemed so ahead of everyone else who was doing stuff at the time.

I would muck about, I would improvise.

I started doing this word rap thing where I endlessly talk endlessly about things and make up scenarios about people who were wandering around, and poke fun at people and all that.

That improvising was the dangerous thing that people were sort of interested in.

That was a commodity, that was different.

VINCENT: He was Raging Bull.

Everybody will come along and they'll see Eddie week after week I don't think any big venue in London ever had a regular compere.

Two people were going to come along and watch me do stuff.

And if they liked it I would get into this benefit called Hysteria 3.

And I really tried to do good, and I failed.

I was really crap that day.

So, at the end of that night I said, "Look, I was really shit tonight.

"So, if you don't wanna book me, that's fine."

And they said, bizarrely, fantastically, "No, it's okay, we'll come back next week and watch you again," which is just like, "Have a second go."

And so they came back next week, and I decided, "Okay, don't give a damn this week "

So, I just did whatever, mucked about, had fun. Had fun.

And it went great. And they said, "Right, you're in."

CHIGNELL: It was an AIDS benefit, and no one, but no one, knew who Eddie Izzard was.

And he came on and did three minutes of, you know, the very famous, as it is now, wolves sketch.

1185 00:58:55,149 --> 00:58:58,904 And I was brought up after that by wolves actually.

Well, you know, they were out yachting one day and...

It was great, it was wonderful.

It's great been brought up by wolves as a kid, it's wonderful.

They gave me a name, you know. They called me "Grrr."

1191 00:59:16,706 --> 00:59:18,504 And they did all... They taught me all the stuff, you know,

hunting, fishing, backgammon, all of that.

And wolves are natural at fishing, you know.

They wait by fast flowing rivers, you know, and then when a big fish comes along, just at the right moment they reel it in really, really quick.

Land it, you know, cook at gas mark four with a bit of herbs.

We were wolves, we were young, we were crazy.

We'd make love with the moonlight, you know.

Well, they would, they would.

I'd watch and say, "No, I'm full, thank you."

Everyone was turning around and going, "Who's that guy? Who's the Izzard guy?"

"Catch you later."

CHIGNELL: 'Cause no one had really heard of him.

And he just absolutely took the place apart.

Well, to be honest, the way we were, you know, like 19 wolves and me, and I was trying to blend in and go, "Woof, woof."

And these bears would stand there and say, "Oh, what's that?"

I go, "Hi, I'm a wolf. Catch you later."

And we'd be chasing these things. They turned out to be antelopes.

It was great. And...'Cause we eat them.

And it was great chasing them.

And after about 20 minutes, they'd put on a real lead.

And, so, we had a discussion and agreed to move our legs as well.

That really...

So, whoosh! Off they went.

And I couldn't keep up with them, you know, two legs, you know.

So, I took to driving a small red car.

It was great. You know, it was the same mind position and everything, you know.

And it was a hatchback, it was roomy.

So I said, "Guys, get in the back."

1223 01:00:50,580 --> 01:00:54,493 The ironical thing about Hysteria 3 was that it was being run by Stephen Fry

and Hugh Laurie was in it with Stephen Fry, who were part of that Footlights group that won the Perrier 10 years before.

Ten years!

While I had been out in the wilderness, living off pine cones.

1229 01:01:09,057 --> 01:01:12,049 CHIGNELL: I remember the next day being woken by the phone ringing off the hook,

and faxes coming through on top of each other.

MAN: "You tore the place apart on Sunday night "

WOMAN: "The most talked about item we had "

CHIGNELL: It really was the classic overnight success after many years.

I'd always wanted to do in the big God television.

And then I thought, "Maybe I don't need television."

People thought I wasn't doing it out of principle.

But I was in fact doing it as a revenge for always wanting to do it.

Well, it's the madness, what I call the madness, 'cause I think...

If you think you can perform when the whole world is saying that you can't perform, then you're obviously mad.

And if you hold on to that madness, and you hold on to it, and you hold on to it, and you hold on to it for years, and then later it becomes good and you can actually perform, then it proves that you weren't mad.

And you just had to surround that little bit of belief and hold on to it for as long as it takes.

VINCENT: He's one of these people who have been told throughout life that he's not capable of certain things.

And he'll just bang on the door until you open the door and let him in.

IZZARD: I thought I could play the West End, because people were phoning up and saying, "I want to see that guy " I've done that on the street.

I seemed to be doing it in the clubs.

PERRIN: He was the first person I knew that had a mailing list.

People would write to you and say, "Eddie's on here, Eddie's on there.

'Let's go and see him do a full-length show "

Now, that's how the Ambassadors first sold out.

IZZARD: So, I left the circuit and I tried out my show in small theatres around London.

And they sold out, so I thought, "I'm gonna go do the West End "

CHIGNELL: It was completely unheard of to book yourself into a West End theatre like that.

People thought he was taking a terrible risk IZZARD: It was a risk, yes, because we didn't have the money We'd been doing so many shows that everyone was letting us have printing and stuff on 30-da y credit.

We had 30 days to break even or go bust.

Okay. That'll be crap.

I thought it was a brilliant idea, you said, "No, it'll never work."

"So, that's okay. We've got a sort of relationship here.

"I say things, you say no.

"Can you do the big silence thing? I'll know I'm going wrong."

CHIGNELL: I came in late the first night I really seriously thought I'd walked into the wrong show because I had no idea.

1279 01:03:27,729 --> 01:03:29,128

Okay. I've only got a couple of dresses, so fuck off.

I was so shocked, I had no idea.

And it was a fantastic show, and I think the audience were incredibly warm.

Yes, yes, yes, yeah. I thought I'll do the gig in a dress.

And good reaction, London, come on.

Yes. Fucking laugh.

TOWNSEND: 'Cause up to this point, he still had never dressed up in the clothes.

He did not want the tabloids trying to make something out of it.

So he thought, "Right, I'll become visible."

I'm a very stubborn, pig-headed personality and quite thick-skinned.

And was always looking for a challenge or a quest.

If you're a woman, you can talk about sexism.

You know, 'cause men could never really get here, and go on that.

If you're an ethnic minority, talk about racism.

But for me personally, white male, middle class, completely fucking useless.

1300 01:04:22,365 --> 01:04:23,400 There's no angles there at all.

So, you can't say, "Oh, when I was growing up, I had it...

"All right...

"I suppose not too bad.

"Kids in school would taunt me. They'd go, 'Ooh! Do you want to play?'"

It was the acceptance I couldn't take. The constant acceptance, so...

So, the only thing working in my favour is thank God I'm a transvestite.

Thank God! Phew-eeeh?

It was very dangerous because my career was just finally taking off and I could just be about to blow it out the window by wearing the dress.

With me in the studio is the well-known stand-up comedian Eddie Izzard, who's recently revealed that he is a transvestite.

-Why aren't you dressed? -Because I chose not to.

It was also because I wanted to talk about it rather than wear the clothes.

I think it's very brave of you to come out and tell everybody you're a transvestite.

Why do that at this stage in your career?

I just told a newspaper that I was TV.

And, of course, all the newspapers after that decided to pick up on it.

But you do feel it's important, don't you, that people should know?

Society makes people fear it, you know, and be scared and feel ashamed, and it's just the way I am.

I am TV, I have been since I was four.

And I have no problems with it, and I was...

You have to come out and basically get relaxed about it.

1327 01:05:42,080 --> 01:05:44,640 I have a girlfriend, and she's quite cool about it as well.

The only way you can get cool about it is by society backing up all the people who are TV, coming out and saying, "I'm TV, it's not a problem."

TOWNSEND: The first time he came out with stand-ups was at a party that I gave at my flat, And he turned up turquoise eye shadow up to his eyebrows and a huge jumper with a belt, a skirt and really high patent shoes.

I wasn't going to come out about it, 'cause that just seemed foolish.

And then why I thought I should...

There is an element, it was absolutely positive.

Do it, it's truthful. I'm coming out.

It's difficult, people see that it's difficult for me.

It is a fight.

It was really important for him that time to wear the skirt.

He wanted to go on and do it honestly And he felt that way and I think it was very brave move.

"Look, this is me. This is what you get. This is Eddie."

IZZARD: The show, in fact, worked, and extended twice and played for three months.

And I got an Olivier nomination out of it.

And I got a video distribution deal out of it.

That was surprising.

HAROLD: You have to accept your children for exactly what they are.

I couldn't see anything in his dressing up in his own women's clothes to get upset about, as long as he didn't get into situations where he got clobbered by a lot of people who thought it was outlandish.

And he doesn't seemed to have managed to do that, except once in Cambridge of course.

NEWS REPORTER: Comedian Eddie Izzard was attacked late last night in Cambridge city centre.

If you had a knife and you were coming down like that, it's in there, and then you go like that and you do that, and you do that.

Oh! Whoa!

Wow! That's very good That's from a book I've never practised it, except on this guy in Cambridge.

IZZARD: I didn't go down. I was pleased I didn't go down.

It was like Cool Hand Luke.

He went down, but he kept getting back up.

I didn't even go down, I just stayed up.

And, you know, and I was pleased that I didn't run away screaming.

IZZARD: I've looked at fear in a big way, because coming out, you have to deal with basically the whole of the world saying, "Oh, you're an abominable snowman."

And me going, "No, don't think so, no."

And it's quite... You have to deal with this fear thing.

I tend to go towards things that scare me now I think that's very positive. Not anything, you know like, leaping off a cliff onto a spike scares me.

And I don't tend to, 'Let's go. Here we go."

Crash helmet on. Phoom! Great belly flop.

CHIGNELL: I know lots of women who find him very, very attractive dressed as a woman.

I don't. I think he's very attractive dressed as a man.

TOWNSEND: Is it difficult to live with? Yes.

But you compromise. In that respect, it's pretty normal.

I think, most of all, the courage that's taken to live his life this way, is the thing that makes him most attractive.

But, yeah, he does drive me nuts.

IZZARD: I thought my brain was visually hip, but I didn't think my look was visually hip.

MAN: Tonight Eddie is wearing a black velour kaftan top, western buckle belt. Wild, partner!

Mustard pleated baggy trousers, and black monk strap rubber soled shoes.

Stealthy Gosh, girls, look out.

It's a batik patchwork shirt, brown and black striped belt, grey herringbone suit trousers, and brown, shiny cowboy boots.

Yee-ha!

IZZARD: I just wore whatever clothes happened to be lying around Most comics just look like me.

Just this big slob that walks out on stage with what they've been wearing all day.

IZZARD: I was wearing a dress on stage, and the journalists believed I was a transvestite.

They said, "Okay, you are a transvestite, but you look a mess."

And it struck me I had to get it to land in some sort of sexy rock'n'roll place.

So, I stole that sensibility from Sarah, who was doing rock'n'roll gigs and I got her to write the intro.

And every show after that they got more funky and more rock'n'roll.

You didn't have to say, "And ladies and gentlemen, please welcome this guy "

You just put on the music and boom...

You just blew out the speakers and everyone knew what to do.

It really kicked

Pears can fuck off too!

'Cause they're gorgeous little beasts, but they're ripe for half an hour and you're never there! They're like a rock or they're mush!

So you think, "I'll take them home and they'll ripen up," and you put them in a bowl at home, and they sit there going, "No! No! Don't ripen yet! Don't ripen yet!

"Wait till he goes out of the room!

"Ripen now! Now! Now!"

KEANE: If you just saw Eddie's picture and had no idea who he was, you'd never think he was a comedian. You'd think he's Madonna.

It was a rock picture, it wasn't a comedy picture.

I've never seen one person in a film, on a computer, doing a normal kind of thing, going...

Control P, print.

Control P, print.

"Cannot access printer."

Cannot... It's here.

I can access it. Print. Control P, print.

Control P, print.

Print. It's 5:00 in the morning, it's only a paragraph.

In 1996, I got my first film role.

On the first day of shooting, I got a huge surprise when I found out who else was in the cast.

ROBIN WILLIAMS: I had been told that there was this comic who was in the movie.

I mean, for me it was like, "Another comic?"

I thought, "I'm just going to walk down there."

And I walked up to you, "Mr Robin Williams."

And you went, "Mr Eddie Izzard." And I went, "Uh? How do you know me?"

"I know you."

And I think later on you brought me a tape, and said, "Could you watch my tape? This is what I do."

Didn't I say, "Do you think this would swing in America?"

Yeah. And I said, "Oh, may I say it honestly? Fuck, yeah."

And you said, "Do you think American audience will get it?"

I said, "Yeah, the intelligent ones will."

IZZARD: New York is the tastemaker.

The gatekeeper to the whole of America and Canada.

You get New York and specifically The New York Times.

You have to get them to say you're good So realised I have to get a small theatre in New York, and play it, and play it, and play it, and just keep doing that.

There was big change when going from UK to America.

Well, I played to 8,000 people at the Docklands Arena.

And in New York I was playing to 80 people.

It was like playing Edinburgh Festival all over again.

What I found an issue, when I came here, I had to try and stop Europeans coming and get Americans coming.

WILLIAMS: You had to stop Europeans. IZZARD: Yeah.

WILLIAMS: Please don't come. If you know about Eddie, don't come.

IZZARD: No, because otherwise they just...

-They pack the theatres. Yeah, English. -Yeah.

And then you can't get any American word of mouth.

WILLIAMS: But I think you cracked it perfectly

'Cause everyone tries to come here and go big.

Your plan is you start very small, the way you did in England.

Small, like a small thing.

Yes, you do it by getting word of mouth, those clandestine thing.

I remember the first theatre you played, there was just three people.

-IZZARD: It was an 80 seater. Yeah, 80 seater.

-Only three people there. -Yeah, okay.

But those three people were good people.

And then you built it. The next time you came there was like 300, and now you'll play to a couple of thousand Show time.

1486 01:13:02,367 --> 01:13:04,278 IZZARD: "Cool" is a thing of youth.

It's linked to fashion. Being cool is linked to fashion.

And there's a circle.

There are a lot of circles involved in things. Like politics.

Extreme right-wing, extreme left-wing politics join up, madness and genius joins up at the back, and also with fashion.

Over here you've got looking like a dickhead, then you have average, normal looking, then you have cool, cool, hip and groovy, looking like a dickhead.

1497 01:13:27,045 --> 01:13:28,240

I personally cruise that back corner, looking like a dickhead.

And it is, if you're on the cutting edge of cool, hip and groovy, you must look like a dickhead, yeah.

You've got to be over in there. But it has to go round this way.

You can't back in from looking like a dickhead.

The cool people are going, "No, fuck off. It's that way round."

1505 01:13:52,364 --> 01:13:54,877 "I want to be cool, though." "No, you look like a dickhead."

"Well, you look like a dickhead."

"Yeah, but I know why I look like a dickhead."

IZZARD: With the success of Dress to Kill in New York, in 1998, I decided to go and play the West Coast.

San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Robin Williams found out and said, "We want to support you coming to the West Coast."

I said, "We're already going. It's perfect."

He put his name above the title, and we put our names under the title and it was a wonderful marriage.

And then, in the end, instead of opening in San Francisco to three cans of beans and a banana, it was everyone from San Francisco just turning up.

So it was just a massive amount of people coming.

KEANE: He looked stunning!

That's not a comic, is it? That's a superstar!

We stole countries! That's how you build an empire.

We stole countries with the cunning use of flags. Yeah.

1525 01:14:41,878 --> 01:14:44,950 You just sailed around the world and stick a flag in.

"I claim India for Britain."

And they're going, "You can't claim us. We live here.

"Five hundred million of us."

"Do you have a flag?"

IZZARD: Most stand-ups in the UK, where we have alternative comedy specifically, I'd say the majority do not have writers.

I'd say about 90% do not have writers. They're writer/performers.

And that's what's tricky. You could be a great performer and not be able to get the material together.

While some people are great writers and their performing skills are not so good.

You have to be two things.

That only became starkly apparent is when I did Dress to Kill.

I got one Emmy for writing, one Emmy for performing and you think, "My God, they're two highly-valued areas."

WOMAN: And the Emmy goes to...

-And the Emmy goes to... -IZZARD: Stop it!

1544 01:15:42,194 --> 01:15:43,866 And the Emmy goes to...

1546 01:15:47,793 --> 01:15:49,192 Eddie Izzard!

1548 01:15:53,792 --> 01:15:56,671 Eddie! Eddie! Eddie! Eddie!

There's a hole.

There'd never be a hole in the stage at the Emmy's.

Eddie Izzard is on location in Vienna, where he's filming All The Queen's Men.

We accept this award on his behalf Congratulations.

1554 01:16:12,549 --> 01:16:14,267

MAN: Un hour. IZZARD: That's two?

MAN: That's one hour. IZZARD: What's the number two?

-MAN: Dwy -Un, dwy

-MAN: Tri. -Tri.

MAN : Pedwar. -Pedwar.

-MAN: Pump. -Pump. I can only do that.

-IZZARD: Un. -Dwy

-IZZARD: Dwy -Tri.

-IZZARD: Tri. -Pedwar.

-IZZARD: Pedwar. -Pump.

IZZARD: Pump.

IZZARD: Uh, if I said to you...

1568 01:16:46,585 --> 01:16:47,984

-MAN: Pedwar. -IZZARD: Pedwar.

1571 01:16:54,703 --> 01:16:55,738 -MAN: Chwech. -IZZARD: What?

MAN: Chwech. Yeah, that's right. Chwech.

IZZARD: Chwech.

WOMAN: Ah, you missed one.

IZZARD: Pump.

1577 01:17:10,542 --> 01:17:13,853 In the end, if you count one to five

in a language, that's gonna get the best reaction...

1580 01:17:18,301 --> 01:17:19,973 Than talking for an hour and a half.

IZZARD: There's no stand-up in France.

And they're not used to English people speaking French.

First gig I did in France, stand-up gig, was in '97, I think La Fleche d'Or. The Golden Arrow He's a Europhile. He wants to do every country in every language.

He was kind of excited, you know Oh, my God, we walked into this venue, which was a sort of cavern and we went backstage to the office, and he just went, sort of, like he does.

Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck!

Pacing up and down, pacing up and down, going, you know, "I just don't know if I can do this, I don't know if I can do this."

And Eddie was going, "I can't remember anything, "I can't remember any vocabulary!"

So I went outside to get my friend She sat down with him and just went through some vocabulary And I'm thinking, "Don't remember any vocabulary! We're in trouble."

Hello.

1600 01:18:28,896 --> 01:18:30,648 CHIGNELL: I said to him,

"Look, you really don't have to put yourself through this.

"Please, it just doesn't matter.

"We can cancel it now, we'll say you're ill, it doesn't matter.

"I don't want you to get so worked up

"about it that you won't be able to do it."

But, of course, he wasn't going to hear that.

IZZARD: Okay

1609 01:18:52,175 --> 01:18:54,051 CHIGNELL: I felt so sick all the way through.

I just stood at the side and he would get through...

My French is pretty basic But he would get through a joke, a sequence about supermarkets and then at the very last minute...

Oh, fuck, I don't know the words.

He'd forget the French word for the punch line, and he would have to ask the audience what the word was.

What do they call them?

1619 01:19:23,331 --> 01:19:25,720

1621 01:19:28,451 --> 01:19:29,679 -What?

1623 01:19:31,050 --> 01:19:33,849 The feedback I got was that his French

was not really good enough to be doing it.

1626 01:19:37,769 --> 01:19:39,328 CHIGNELL: I don't know why he didn't do it in English.

Because he'd set himself the task of doing it in French.

And he is stubborn!

1631 01:19:48,769 --> 01:19:51,045 IZZARD: Do you think that the French people found it funny?

I... No.

So that was the first gig, and it was atrocious.

But at least I did it.

If the meaning of life, or the purpose of life is to live it, which I think it is, there's lights there, we're here.

You can go, "What is it all about?" and just get lost in a circular argument.

Or you can just say, "Get it, grab it!"

Try and put something positive into it.

And, uh, that's what I want to do.

And if fear gets in the way, then just push fear back.

Well, since that gig I have really pushed to do more studying.

And, also, before the gig starts I work with a language expert.

I think it's very key to speak a lot of slang in your language, 'cause that's what you do when you're doing stand-up.

1647 01:21:03,448 --> 01:21:05,519


1649 01:21:16,168 --> 01:21:17,567

I'm very much looking forward to getting my doctorate, seeing as I didn't pass my degree.

There was a thing in my head saying, "Well, if I work really hard maybe someone will give me one."

MAN: Eddie Izzard is committed to challenging assumptions about language.

IZZARD: Thank you, thank you very much.

My dad's here. He's had to wait 20 years to get one of these ceremonies to happen, so thank you very much.

1659 01:21:47,207 --> 01:21:49,847 German's the next one. And, um...

Spanish, I think, he's quite keen to do.

Maybe learn a smattering of Scandinavian.

I don't know. I dread to think of it every time.

1664 01:22:00,967 --> 01:22:02,002

IZZARD: A critic reviewed a show, and within the show he said, "Why do you want to be a so-so actor when you're a brilliant comic?"

But once, I was a so-so comedian.

I was always trying to get to Hollywood.

We play bad guys in Hollywood movies. The best are just full of British actors opening doors and going, "Oh, I'm... Oh. Oh."

1672 01:22:31,446 --> 01:22:33,801 "What is it, Lieutenant Sebastian?"

"It's just the rebels, sir. They're here."

"My God, man!

"Do they want tea?"

"No, I think they're after something more than that, sir.

"I don't know what it is but they've brought a flag."

CHIGNELL: Doing stand-up, he's always paved his own way Whereas with acting, you're in a system and it's much harder just to do your own thing and prove your own point. You have to play the game.

IZZARD: But you lose all your gut feelings because you're worried that you're gonna hit comedy instead of hitting truth.

When I did the Ocean's movies, I felt like I've got to base camp on Mount Everest and everyone was saying, "We're going up the mountain."

And I was saying, "All right, I'll be here."

Now, I'm in The Riches, Wayne Malloy Great critical acclaim for the show I think I can now call myself an actor. Or if not, I can call myself a postman.

I want to do Shakespeare now 'cause it scares the shit out of me.

I think that's the reason to do it.

It's like running the marathons of theatre, where you got to do it.

You know, there's always the three biggies, I guess.

There's Hamlet, you play at a certain phase.

And then you go... Well, obviously, the end of your life is always Lear.

-That's waiting for you at the end. -I'm going to start with Lear.

-Yeah, start with Lear... -And then go backwards.

And do the only 85-year-old Hamlet.

IZZARD: Well, I haven't done Shakespeare yet, but I did do Broadway The theatre people were thinking, oh, we're great, and they really welcomed A Day in the Death of Joe Egg on Broadway, there was huge buzz about it.

And we got a Tony nomination, and my dad was there opening night No, I got down on my knees and I prayed to God.

I said, "God, I've only just found her. The baby doesn't matter.

"If it is a question of a swap..."

Oh.

And then I found I was so drunk I could hardly get to my feet again.

But that was a very good experience.

And then I had to come back and go into this new type of tour, to develop a tour to do a thing. I had to change it because I was on a programme about fraud.

TV PRESENTER: On Weekend Watchdog tonight, new fuel at petrol stations causing a massive rise in car breakdowns, claim The AA.

We report on Eddie Izzard's recycled jokes and..

Their issue was he was doing old material, but he never performed that show here but they would've seen it on the DVD. The DVD had been released.

Original sin. What a hellish idea that is.

People having to go, "Father, bless me for I have sinned.

"I did an original sin. I poked a badger with a spoon."

"I've never heard of that one before.

"Five Hail Marys and two Hello Dollys." "All right then."

Well, funny hearing it once, but still funny twice? Maybe.

I would start a new tour with the old show.

I just used to ad-lib it on the stage and then hone it, and then dump out the old stuff and put in the new stuff.

It was just a constantly rolling thing.

I told people I did this, I told critics I did this. That is what I did.

We've counted up all the gags on this video, 55 in total, and we've put them here on our Weekend Watchdog Eddie Izzard gag count.

Now we're gonna send in our gag accountant...

IZZARD: It's like going to a rock'n'roll concert and saying, "We've heard The Stones, we've heard these fucking numbers before."

"You're on Watchdog for fraud, The Stones on Watchdog for fraud

"'cause we've heard all this stuff before."

TOWNSEND: In the same sentence they're attacking one of the biggest oil companies in the world, and then one independent comedian.

We knew we could absolutely justify the situation.

And he, in no way, should have been criticised for it.

The theatre got the wrong end of the stick and they said, "All new material" at Birmingham Hippodrome.

And people complained to Watchdog saying I'm trying to fuck everyone over.

They paid £18.50 each for their seats and by the end of the night, in fact, realised there was very little new.

Eddie was the first one I'd ever known not to be putting out his material during the tour he was on.

That's what everyone does.

I've been part of the movement, beginning in the '90s, to try and change material over at a faster pace.

Before that, people had done the same 20 minutes, sometimes for years.

Back in Morecambe and Wise's time, forever, to get together your hour show, and you'd just do it forever.

Was it all new to you tonight?

-A lot of it was new, yeah. -Yeah?

Yeah, it was told in different ways, things that he'd said before.

He could go and read out a recipe for making cake and it'd still be fantastic.

It's just Eddie being Eddie.

I just felt totally gutted by that.

"I will have the penne alla arrabiata."

"You'll need a tray "

"Do you know who I am?"

"Do you know who I am?"

"This is not a game of Who The Fuck Are You?

"I'm Vader, Darth Vader.

"Lord Vader. I can kill you with a single thought."

"Well, you'll still need a tray."

"No, I will not need a tray. I do not need a tray to kill you.

"I can kill you without a tray, with the power of the Force

"for which is strong within me, "even though I could kill you with a tray, if I so wished.

"For I would hack at your neck with the thin bit

"until the blood flowed upon the canteen floor."

"Well, the food is hot. You'll need a tray to put the food on."

"Oh, I see, the food is hot. I'm sorry, I did not realise."

PERRIN: He's always excessively hard on himself If you had a room of 100 people who said, "Eddie, you're fantastic" and one person said, "Mmm", it's that that he wants to act on.

TOWNSEND: They took it to the government and he received a warning letter.

Eddie's been injured by what's happened in the past.

And I think he's carrying the scars of that injury onto this tour.

It just took a long time to get round to doing another show.

1787 01:28:30,582 --> 01:28:34,495 Well, I got to concentrate now, so fuck off. Please.


IZZARD: I'm thinking about the arenas at the end of the year.

Thinking, "What if I screw those up?"

Yeah, I'm somewhat stressed about it.

VINCENT: The pressure on Eddie is greater now than it's ever been in the past, the expectation is greater.

We sold 350,000 tickets across the world

TOWNSEND: All the time he was in Australia he must have been working like a mad thing.

IZZARD: Audiences are good here.

Audiences have been consistently good here.

I don't know what it is.

Maybe they just make me relaxed.

They make me just want to play about, so that's good I've heard that "kangaroo" means fuck off in Aboriginal language.

That's what I've heard, and I've asked people but no one seems to admit this.

But the English arrived, or the British, and they said, "What the hell is that bouncy thing?" And they went, "Fuck off!"

"Oh, it's a fuck off, it's a kangaroo. Kangaroo."

"Kangaroo? You kangaroo."

She is besotted with him, you know.

And I'm thinking of citing him as co-respondent.

"Given how thick and fast the stories and loose threads come, "and in apparently chaotic bursts, it's hard to believe

"any one performance of Sexie will be anything like the next."


HAROLD: Hi', Eddie. Just wanted to let you know that I've received some old letters from your mum to Aunt Margaret.

I will keep them here until you get back to the UK Call me when you can. Love from Dad

1817 01:31:04,012 --> 01:31:05,764 PERRIN: They kind of didn't care what he said,

they were just so pleased to be there.

He was worried about it, because basically, stand-up comedy can't have that kind of adoration.

They have to calm it down a little bit, they have to tell their gags.

1823 01:31:31,612 --> 01:31:35,525 Now, the screaming thing is fun. Um...

In rock'n'roll, it's great, and I do like to be in the rock'n'roll vein.

But in the mind gig that this is, we have to control our "Ooh!" and our...

1828 01:31:45,731 --> 01:31:48,564 PERRIN: "We're with you, Eddie. We want to be part of this, Eddie."

It was almost like some religious revivalist, this meeting.

Eastern and Western medicine is interesting.

Western medicine, very much a pill-driven thing, and, you go along, "I got a bit of a throat thing."

"Antibiotics for you, me old sir."

"My leg has been caught in a dangerous tractor accident."

"Antibiotics will make that leg better."

You kept me laughing when I was really afraid.

I nearly died a year ago. I had a brain haemorrhage and I came out of the operating theatre reciting your bee keeper's sketch from Glorious.

Thank you so much!

IZZARD: We're nearing the end of the tour now We've done all of Australia, we've done all of New Zealand, we've done Canada, America, and tomorrow we go on to the UK

If you're a performer you want to play Wembley It's the Madison Square Garden, it's the Hollywood Bowl of England

I think everyone toys around by saying, "Goodnight, Wembleyl"

You can say that in a very small place.

You can say that when you're street performing.

And it's kind of weird to get to play Wembley

1851 01:33:19,085 --> 01:33:21,918 PERRIN: He's just always at something, he's always thinking,

he's always working, he's always developing, scheming.

His day is starting at 9:00 in the morning and it's finishing again at 3:00 or 4:00 the following morning as a constant.

And at the end of the day, Eddie has to be fresher than anybody else, he has to go and face 72,000 people, 74,000 people, whatever it happens to be.

He's afraid of stopping.

He's fighting against that to such an extent that he pushes himself beyond that which anybody else could stand

IZZARD: I went down to see my dad And he'd been given some letters which my mum had written before she died.

"Five, Ashwood Drive, Bangor, County Down.

"25th of September, 1957.

"My dear Margie and George, "by now you all know the result of the operation I had

"to find out what was wrong. It was a bit of a shock

"I expected bad news last time, not this time.

"I am carrying on just as usual for Harold's sake and the boys.

"I still feel a bit shaky, but I'm in quite good shape, really

"And I intend not to let this get me down.

"I have persuaded Harold that we must move now

"I want to see the boys settled at their new school and making new friends.

"And our home comfortable for them and Harold

"I just want to carry on normally as possible.

"Hope you're all well. With our love, Dorothy, Harold, Mark and Edward "

I thought she called me Eddie. I don't know how I got Eddie.

But I was an Edward to her.

We didn't understand what was going on, I just thought she was ill You get ill, you get better.

And then, one day, she wasn't there.

I think performing was about trying to get everyone to...

To love. You're trying to get the love of the audience.

And that was a swap from mum's love not being there.

The big problem is that everything I do in life is trying to, uh, get her back.

If I think if I do enough...

things... that maybe she...

That maybe she'll come back.

1894 01:36:54,117 --> 01:36:56,790 Yeah, I think that's what I'm doing.


1896 01:38:11,556 --> 01:38:14,469 IZZARD: The trouble is spending too much time in your mind


You either question it all the time or you don't question it, and then you can end up living in a ditch.

Because you thought you were on top of the world and actually, your career was going down the toilet.

PERRIN: Do I think he's running toward something or running away from something?

I think they meet in the middle.

There is a man in there who's going, in the biggest and most nicest way, "Love me".

1907 01:39:13,512 --> 01:39:15,423 IZZARD: So what do you do?


I'm a comedian.

I'm a comedian!

You've got to believe you can be a stand-up before you can be a stand-up.

You gotta believe you can act before you can act,

You gotta believe you're gonna be an astronaut before you can be an astronaut.

But you've got to believe.

1916 01:40:15,989 --> 01:40:21,985 London, the greatest city in the London area.


PERRIN: Do I think he's running toward something or running away from something?

WOMEN: Eddie!

WOMAN: Eddie, to the right!

MAN: Eddie, straight ahead, please!

PERRIN: I think meet in the middle.

1924 01:42:52,545 --> 01:42:55,458 WOMEN: Go, Eddie!

IZZARD: I don't want to learn!

I want to go out and smash things with hammers!