Report news now! Text pictures & video to 80360, starting message with WITNESS then leave a space
Eddie Izzard talks to Amie Mulderrig about marathon running, crossing the international boundaries with his comedy shows and running for London Mayor in 2020
The last time Eddie Izzard visited Wembley he was involved in a rather embarrassing situation with one of the suburb’s taxi drivers.
“I’d gone with friends to see Jesus Christ Superstar at Wembley Arena,“ he says. “We’d booked a cab to pick us up and take us into central London.
"When we arrived in town the taxi driver, who was Asian British, asked, 'Will you be going back to Wembley?’ And I thought he was talking about my career.
“Wow I thought to myself, I’ve got through to the Asian community, something which I’d been really struggling with.
“I said ‘Yes mate, I will, I think I have to, don’t you?’ Then I realised we were having two different conversations – particularly when he handed over his card and said he was working until 3am.”
But Eddie has kept his promise to return to Wembley. He’s embarked on a 25-country tour with his show Force Majeure, and among the scheduled performances are two dates at Wembley Arena.
When I catch up with him, he’s just arrived in Geneva for a show, following a drive from the Netherlands where he performed the night before.
These foreign climes are just the tip of the iceberg for Eddie though. As part of his tour he’s visiting far flung destinations such as Kathmandu, Moscow and Mumbai.
You’d be forgiven for thinking that it would be difficult performing the same stand-up routine in front of audiences with such vastly different cultures, but not for Eddie. This is a man who completed 43 marathons in 51 days for Sport Relief, in spite of having no prior history of long-distance running.
“I do these tours because I’m passion-driven, not money-driven, I like breaching across borders, I’m British European and in a time when everyone is being very negative and racist, I’m being very positive and international," the Yemen-born comedian says.
“I’ve worked out a theory that there is a mainstream sense of humour in almost every country. Monty Python has already kicked the doors open in the sense of their comedy being all around the world.
“I tend to write universal stuff for my shows, from human sacrifice to ancient Greek gods, smoking pipes and the Olympics, these are all things that people have heard of.
“I don’t pick things like John Major, Edwina Curry and Curly Wurlies, because the audience might be left wondering who and what they are. That’s not to say you can’t talk about John, Edwina and Curly Wurlies, as long as you introduce them: 'So, we had a prime minister called John Major, he was a very grey man, probably had a decent heart, but he got batted about, he had an affair with this woman who was always talking about chickens and eggs, and Curly Wurlies are these fun chocolate things with nougat in.'”
It may come as no surprise then that, given Eddie’s desire to cross the cultural divide, he’s still keen to run for London Mayor in 2020.
“I’m a comedian, but so what, Boris Johnson makes a lot of jokes. I campaigned against him, but he’s got better at his job because he’s stopped saying completely stupid things. He’s moved from being a right-winger to the centre and he’s attacking the Tory high command.
“As for me, I’ve tried to be about the majority rather than the few. I’m not into the rich getting richer, I’m a radical centrist. I believe in live and let live. I run marathons. I do gigs in French, German, Spanish and I’ll push for Russian and Arabic. I’ve got energy, I stay true to the cause. I’m a British European transvestite. I make money and I would like to encourage London to go forward.
“I see this is as a good standard and as I was creatively born on the streets of London, I think we would be an interesting fit."
Eddie will perform at Wembley Arena on May 11 and May 12. Details: 020 8782 5500 or www.wembleyarena.co.uk