He’s run 43 marathons in 51 days, has his 2020 sights set on Boris Johnson’s job, and he’s currently in the middle of the planet’s biggest ever comedy tour. Nope, there’s no denying Eddie Izzard’s ambition. And in ‘Force Majeure’ (the aforementioned world tour), the 51-year-old comic’s set himself another epic challenge, choosing grand, universal topics – from ancient civilizations to mythical creatures – that aim to have as much resonance in Warsaw as Wembley.
‘So, human sacrifice…’ he says, to open tonight’s show, before miming executions and telling us about history’s many ‘dickhead kings’. The suave standup – dressed in a sharp suit and Cuban heels – has a knack for reducing centuries’ worth of history to just a few exquisite words (Romans were just ‘fascist plumbers’, for example) and he certainly flaunts his intellect, covering everything from Greek gods to religious theories and the workings of the universe.
But it’s the simpler, more whimsical ideas that get the biggest laughs tonight: slipping the word ‘fuck’ into the middle of French words, creating a musical about a trouserless spider and, however hackneyed the idea, the treat of physical comedy that is his routine ridiculing Olympic dressage.
In fact, perhaps Izzard’s been a bit too ambitious as the show just feels rather messy. Of course, a scatty delivery is part of his bumbling charm, but much of the two-hour long show just feels like half-thought-out streams-of-consciousness, with many routines reaching a dead end and just fizzling out.
‘Force Majeure’ is by no means vintage Izzard. But let’s hope, before he quits stand-up and moves into politics, there’s a major league – or ‘ligue majeure’, as he might say – show in him yet. Ben Williams