Bonjour! Hola! Tak! Da! Ciao! I would like to thank Kalpar for allowing the British Empire to lay claim to his arsenal. We were initially preparing to come over and steal it with a cunning use of flags what with the arsenal being necessary for strategic sheep purposes and all. I am Carvan, her Majesty's representative to the arsenal and will attempt to make the bloody thing less Prussian and a little more "men running about in women's clothing and doing silly things." I think it's part of the citizenship requirement for the UK at this stage. Think about it. Hugh Laurie wore a dress:
Dr. House trying to avoid Cuddy, or Hugh Laurie proving his Britishness? You decide!
The Monty Python crew regularly wore dresses:
Pictured above: Why I am British.
Sir Ian McKellen:
And of course, the Queen wears a dress.
Freddy Mercury: The one true Queen of England
Speaking of men running about in women's clothing and doing silly things, that sounds like a perfect segue into our topic for the day! What luck! One of the foremost men to advance the whole women's clothing/silliness front is the English comedian Eddie Izzard. Those of you who are already familiar with him might have picked up on some of the homages dropped in the introduction, and those of you who did not pick up on those should watch the following clip. (Parental Advisory warning: being a Brit, and having a sense of maturity about the appropriateness of language, Eddie has no qualm about dropping the f-bomb in the middle of his routine and frequently does so. Suck it up Yanks.)
Right. Let's get on with it then.
Eddie Izzard is a self described action-executive transvestite; this is of course in comparison to the "f****** weirdo transvestites" like J. Edgar Hoover. Usually at the beginning of his routine he addresses the fact that he will be doing the entire act in drag, and makes a few self-referential jokes about it to put the audience at ease before getting into his routine proper. He also makes the distinction between transvestites and drag queens as well, identifying himself as a male lesbian rather than a drag queen, and pointing out that most transvestites fancy women rather than men. So if you ever get into a conversation about transvestites for some reason (you're at a Rocky Horror Picture Show screening?) and someone makes the assertion that transvestites are necessarily gay, you can correct them in good faith. When they ask how you know this, you can tell them that your information comes from an executive transvestite and is therefore reliable. Should they continue to press you for information, you should probably stop talking because you are disturbing the people around you who are trying to shout obscenities at the screen and you're just being plain rude having a conversation in the middle of that.
Frank N. Furter is not amused.
As a comedian, Eddie Izzard attempts to tackle real-estate that a lot of people seemed to have left fallow. He tends to focus on material based in history, religion, British/American relations in general and tangents which just get absolutely absurd. His humor tends to focus more on wit, wordplay and weferences, rather than making jokes about stereotypes or necessarily relying on crude humor. Occasionally Eddie even turns his comedy into legitimate social commentary.
Not quite like this though. That would be silly
However, while his choice of material does lead Eddie down the path of being somewhat high-brow or a little too esoteric, Eddie talks about these things in a very fluid style and conversational tone which I think allows most people to understand him well enough, even if some of the content flies over their heads. While his style borders on rambling at times, and he occasionally derails himself in his routines, Eddie eventually finds his way back to the main thread of his routine without missing much of a beat. And even if a joke falls flat or doesn't get the reaction he seemed to expect of it, Eddie turns his own gaff into a joke as well; this usually takes the form of Eddie writing on his hand and quipping "Never do that bit again" or "Lost everyone. No one understands that." His style and wit allows for his stand up to become very quotable in conversation without having to go into a whole set to get to the joke. So you too can seem either witty in your own right to people who are unfamiliar with his routines, or clever enough to quote him to people who do know him. Win win!
I think one of the things that I very much admire about Eddie Izzard is how comfortable he is with himself and his identity. For one thing, openly being a transvestite takes some amount of courage. When I mentioned before that Eddie begins many of his routines with jokes about his being in women's clothing, he is never self-deprecating as if he feels the need to apologize for the fact he is up there in heels and make-up. He is who he is and accepts that. Admirable I think. Additionally, the writing-on-the-hand bit when he makes a mistake or bad joke during a routine is an excellent way I think of graciously accepting the situation rather than becoming flustered for not having a joke kill every time. He simply has an aura of confidence about himself that I find to be rather praiseworthy and makes me enjoy him all the more.
Incidentally dear readers, should your interest be piqued enough to seek out Eddie Izzard, YouTube is an excellent resource to find what you might enjoy. Dress to Kill and Glorious are excellent places to start and much of what is on YouTube comes from those sets. Also, iTunes has an interview with Eddie Izzard (called Live from London: Eddie Izzard) under the podcast section. It is very much worth a listen, and had a lot of the same wordplay and absurdism Eddie has in his stand-up routines while also getting to know him a little as a person as well. Also, the podcast is free, so that's nice too.
Hope you've enjoyed the inaugural British post in the arsenal and I look forward to our next meeting. Until then, God Save the Queen.
Seriously. No one can replace this man.