Eduardo Izzardo is a comedy god, a charity fiend and inspiration in my eyes and also the man I blame for me being such a fan of stand up comedy. Watching him again tonight reminded me why I love comedy so much – pure escapism and silliness in a serious and grey world.
When I were lad I saw Eddie’s Ambassador’s Gig on TV and was blown away by him. He looked strange and almost dangerous, but the ideas flowing from him were a clever mix of history, pop culture and pure nonsense. I was hooked. Then I bought his “Definite Article” Video which was watched dozens of times over the years because I had never seen anyone with a mind as frantic and creative as that. On TV comedy was sitcom or mother-in-law jokes. I wanted something else. Paul Merton always stood out as being someone I loved and his show on Channel 4 was good too – then Eddie wandered into my life and I’ve been a fan ever since.
Through him and Billy Connolly I started to see what stand up could do – it was like discovering a great book, in it a world of ideas and images were thrown from the stage into your mind and suddenly Mrs Badcrumble and Sean Connery as Noah were there in your head. He takes the most mundane things like a cat purring behind the sofa and makes me sore with laughter. I never got to see him live until a couple of years ago due to our diaries never matching up and I wasn’t disappointed. Because of him and then others I started going along to see live stand up and since then I’ve had the honour of being in the audience of some of the greatest stand up comedians in the world. And it’s all Eddie fault for showing me there was a way to connect with an audience in a different and vibrant way.
If you look at many of the comedians today you can see the production values that Izzard brought into the medium with set design, music, lighting. He took what was traditionally a person with a microphone and helped to make it a business that should be taken seriously and to put on a show.
He has intimated that he will retire from comedy in a few years time to run for London Mayor in 2020. As much as I would love to see him and his way of thinking in politics it would be a huge loss to the entertainment world to have him in office rather than on stage.
But then whatever he decides to do, his drive and intelligence push him to be the best at whatever he turns his hand to whether it’s running 43 marathons in 51 days or acting in huge Hollywood blockbusters he’s successful at everything he does. So thank you Eddie for being such an inspiration and for opening my eyes to one of the greatest passions of my life – stand up comedy.