AUSTIN, TEXAS – From French giraffes and African tigers to Spartan sheep and rocks with GPS, British comic Eddie Izzard covered a wide array of bizarre topics in his trademark rambling fashion Saturday night at the Paramount Theatre.
The sold-out crowd laughed, clapped and howled through most of the two-hour show, titled “Stripped.” The audience rewarded Izzard with standing ovations after the main show and brief encore.
Izzard took the stage bowing, bouncing and dancing, though he said a hurt foot limited the amount of frantic footwork in his routine. But he recommended dancing as a great public speaking tool, claiming that even if you don’t know what you’re talking about, you at least exude confidence when you’re dancing.
As he dispensed advice and factoids, the comic/actor told audience members they could say an “off-duty transvestite told me that.” Instead of dressing in women’s clothing, as in his stand-up DVD performances, he wore very appropriate cowboy boots, jeans, a red and white striped shirt, a tuxedo jacket and a neat goatee.
In his typical fashion, Izzard fleetly jumped from topic to topic throughout his show, often with no segue, and then winding back around to an earlier subject. He sometimes wrapped up bits with his signature lines “so, yeah” or “all this is true,” to the delight of fans.
In one of the show’s highlights, Izzard mused at length about how giraffes communicate since they have no vocal cords, theorizing that they talked through coughing or even used charades. The giraffes in question were being stalked by a tiger - which he acknowledged didn’t really belong in Africa – and one was trying to get a warning to the other. In Izzard’s oddball world, these herbivores decide to hide from the predator by posing as the Eiffel Tower. It all made sense – sort of – if you were there.
As usual, the self-described techno-junkie waxed at length about computers, singing the praises of “Mr. and Mrs. Wikipedia” and the ability to instantly learn about virtually any topic on the Internet. He even pulled out his iPhone to look up how to make jam, which led to ramblings on the jam-making process, the difference between jam and preserves and an accidental link to the Wikipedia page for the band The Jam.
He followed it up with some spot-on jokes about the software service agreements, which force people to lie because no one reads them but everyone clicks “yes,” and software update letdown, when you accept an upgrade but can’t notice the difference after installation.
Naturally – for Izzard, at least – that line of thought lead to an extended bit about the Stone Age. While we think of it as backward, the comic said it must have been considered very cutting edge at the time to use rocks to kill bison (“or buffalo, same thing.”) And what if the rocks got upgrades like those software updates – making them harder, less flaky and perhaps even equipping them with GPS.
True to form, Izzard’s patter frequently ran to historical events and religious practices. Particularly hilarious were his jokes about the Spartans, whose whole communities must have been tough as nails – even their sheep.
Although I don’t agree with most of Izzard’s opinions on religion, his ponderings about what a church for dinosaurs would be like were hilarious.
It also produced one of my favorite new Izzardisms: “The triceratops is like a cross between Hitler and Bugs Bunny.” He came to that conclusion because the dinosaur has fearsome spikes but only eats vegetables.
Despite the momentum-stopping effect of a couple of well-meaning but still annoying hecklers, Izzard was able to keep his flow, proving that his burgeoning acting career has taken away nothing from his stand-up skills.
P.S. As I was writing this review in the Stephen F. Bar inside the Stephen F. Austin Intercontinental Hotel, which is next door to the Paramount, Izzard walked through. He continued on outside and set up court at a terrace table, creating quite a stir among the patrons. For dedicated Izzard fans like my husband, our friends and myself, it was a great way to cap the evening.