After he ran 27 marathons in 27 days, there’s a danger of becoming blasé about Eddie Izzard’s comedic powers. But his evolving efforts to deliver stand-up in different languages are scarcely less remarkable. Performing three successive 45-minute highlights sets of his extended Force Majeure tour in German, French and ultimately, English, the Remain campaigner practices what he preaches about greater European integration, and pledged the takings from these shows to the Jo Cox Memorial Fund.
I speak only basic French and no German, but with a performer as physically expressive as Izzard, there’s entertainment in simply trying to grasp his non-sequitur logic through gesture and nouns alone. Izzard’s extracurricular activities might explain why he’s not quite as electrifying or as tight as in his late Nineties heyday. But at the same time, his polyglot ambitions have pushed him towards more universal routines, while retaining his love of British history. You can imagine his Martin Luther getting a better response on the continent, But do they engage with his Oliver Cromwell?
Although there were occasional longueurs in the German and French sets to judge by the crowds’ reactions, the general response was one of delight and admiration. And intriguingly, when he recreated the assassination of Julius Caesar, reeling off the supposed killers’ names, all variations on the Latin suffix “us”, it was difficult to know if he changed the ten or so names up because “Cactus” or “Disingenuous” are funnier in French or German.
Or just for his own amusement and because he can. Really impressive.