This occasional transvestite becomes the first British comic to play the arena at MSG.
Wed Jan 13 2010
The prolific absurdist Eddie Izzard is accustomed to breaking new ground. On Saturday 16—hot on the heels of running 43 marathons in 51 days (to benefit the charity Sport Relief) and the premiere on both sides of the pond of the new documentary Believe: The Eddie Izzard Story—he becomes the first British comic to play the arena at Madison Square Garden.
You ran 43 marathons in 51 days?!?
The first three weeks were hell. It was chafing my feet, they were all blistered up and the pain was very intense, but then the weirdest thing was that my feet started healing as I was running. They actually become really hard. Then it’s just endurance and stamina.
What sort of frame of mind does it take to keep going?
You can’t entertain the idea that you can stop at any point, apart from serious injury. Having a TV crew there also helped because it would be very embarrassing after ten days to say, “Well, I can’t do this. I’m sorry, everyone. Pack up and go home.”
You’re used to cameras; were you pleased with Believe?
There’s a thing where certain people will go, “That guy’s a transvestite; I’m not going to go watch his stuff,” and it will get blocked off to that audience. So I thought a documentary could explain things more, dig around and show the stuff going on in my head, who I am and where I come from.
Was watching yourself through other people’s eyes cathartic?
That bit at the end where it explains what seems to be my motivation—that it’s my mother? That came as a shock to me, because I didn’t realize it. It was good to say that and get that out there and know that myself.
You mentioned the transvestism. I saw you get heckled in Vegas at the Comedy Festival.
Right; they were asking, “Why aren’t you wearing a dress?,” which is slightly different. You expect a lot of, “I hear you’re a transvestite. I don’t like that.” But I tend to get, these days, “Why aren’t you wearing a dress?” So I do try and explain that I will go in boy mode and girl mode, and at the moment I’ve been in boy mode. You want to have the freedom that women have of being able to wear whatever they want whenever they want.
Stripped Too: The Big Intimacy Tour happens Sat 16 at Madison Square Garden. Believe is in theaters now and comes out on DVD in March.
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