Eddie, Steady, Go!

The Eddie Izzard you see in the upcoming remake of The Avengers won't be the Eddie Izzard you see doing stand-up in his one-man show Dress to Kill, which the British comic will finally perform on the West Coast, thanks in part to fellow comic and show co-presenter Robin Williams. In The Avengers, Izzard plays the silent leader of Sean Connery's gang -- quite a departure for a man who makes his living by his mouth. Izzard's is a conversational sort of stand-up (although he resists being termed a monologist), influenced by the way Richard Pryor's characters used to get into discussions with each other, or how Steve Martin used to, as Izzard put it in a recent long-distance phone conversation, talk "brash bullshit" while wearing a pink suit and speaking in the well-oiled tones of a commercial announcer. Monty Python inspired Izzard as well, for the breadth of their comedy, from the absurdism they found in unlikely places (like the business that sold arguments) to broad historical satire. As an illustration of the latter, Izzard points to how the troupe skewered radical dogmatism in Life of Brian. (When one of the hapless revolutionaries says, "What have the Romans ever done for us?" another ruins his posturing with examples: medicine, wine, a system of roads, etc.) Izzard's own show runs along similarly cerebral, and silly, lines, touching on world politics, Henry VIII, the history of the Anglican Church, and the moon landing, in which Izzard has astronauts Aldrin and Armstrong working out Armstrong's "one small step for man" speech. Part of the show is done in schoolboy French, and all of it is done in cosmetics and women's heels, which Izzard says has its roots in male tomboyishness rather than drag before dismissing it and moving on to other topics, like what makes him laugh (Williams, Letterman, The Simpsons) and, conversely, what makes him cry (the Python-ish idea of "getting hit on the head with a large plank"). Dress to Kill opens Thursday at 8 p.m. (and runs through Aug. 30) at the Cable Car Theater, 430 Mason (at Geary), S.F. Admission is $25-35; call 433-9500.

-- Heather Wisner

 
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