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Review: Eddie Izzard Impresses At The Chicago Theatre

By Marielle Shaw in Arts & Entertainment on Jun 10, 2014 7:00PM

Photo credit: Amanda Searle
When we chatted with Eddie Izzard prior to his three-night engagement at the Chicago Theatre, we were already big fans, and as such anticipated great things. When we emerged on State Street, teary-eyed and a bit lighter on account of all the laughter, we were excited to report the following: Izzard really is a force majeure.

Having flown in from a tri-lingual D-Day tribute in France, what was immediately evident was that Izzard was unstoppable, even where jet lag is concerned. The power naps must have worked well, as he launched into his show with great enthusiasm and energy after a Bond-esque, smoke-and-spotlight-filled introduction we were definitely not expecting.

One of our favorite things about Izzard is his fearlessness. It’s a trait he attributes to growing up as an “action transvestite” and one that certainly works to his advantage in comedy. While many comedians discuss the “big three” topics we’re brought up to avoid in polite company: money, politics and religion, few seem to deliver it as unapologetically as Izzard. Though his remarks on such things as Prohibition and the Tea Party were biting, and the demographics and politics of the audience varied wildly, his frenetic pace, charisma and mastery of craft mean he never seemed to lose even our Lipton-leaning aisle mates.

We’ve discussed the joy of watching masters of their craft in action, and this performance was full of related bliss. At times, it seemed like stream-of-consciousness, full of mechanical chickens and epic tales of cafeteria violence. Other times it seems like an extraordinarily funny history lesson—tales of King John, doomed to always be the bad guy in Robin Hood, or what caused Charles I to lose his head. Izzard deftly mixed fan favorites with new bits, and during a detailed breakdown of dressage (yes, you read that right), performed a silly walk any Python would be proud of (and also caused this Chicagoista to nearly hyperventilate.) While we thought the first half of the show had more momentum and meat to it, we found ourselves laughing loudly and often throughout the entirety of the show. Just when we thought the night was over, we were treated to a Tolkien-inspired encore that removed any remaining mascara and created just a few more side stitches for the journey home.

A man like Eddie Izzard, who’s been performing for as long as he has, could easily rest on his laurels. But if he indeed had them, he’d certainly just toss them out and go after the next thing. And whether that’s an intercontinental tour, one that touches all 50 US states or a run for office, we can’t wait for more.