Eddie Izzard is world-famous on the comedy scene. A self-described ‘transvestite executive’ (as he once referred to himself to audiences), Izzard has starred in numerous films and delivered critically-acclaimed stand-up shows that combine his acting chops, wit and flamboyant fashion. To add to his accomplishments, which include performing shows in fluent French and German, acting on stage in the West End and receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award for Cultural Humanism from Harvard, the man has now released an autobiography, Believe Me: A Memoir of Love, Death and Jazz Chickens.
In the book, Izzard tells of his childhood days growing up in Wales and the grief experienced when his mother died when he was just six years old. He also explains how he gave up pursuits in accountancy and of a determination to join the army to become a ‘street performer’ in both England and the U.S.
Izzard goes on to say that once during the filming of the documentary Believe: The Eddie Izzard Story, he revealed something fairly heavy about his mum: “I know why I’m doing all this. Everything I do in life is trying to get her back. I think if I do enough things…That maybe she’ll come back.”
Izzard’s surrealist, stream-of-consciousness style of humour has earned him fame around the world and he has even been described as ‘The Lost Python’ by John Cleese. Among those who influenced him in style are Spike Milligan, Robin Williams and Billy Connolly.
“Billy Connolly,” writes Eddie Izzard, “used to say in his stand-up material that he did certain things to make himself ‘windswept and interesting’. I identify with that.”
Yet Eddie Izzard himself has also become somewhat of a positive role model via his transgender activism. Reflecting in interview, he recalls how, back in the 1980s, everyone advised him to keep his coming out as transgender quiet. He sees coming out as gay, transgender or lesbian as a difficult rite of passage; one where individuals do experience humiliation, but, he insists, “If you keep at it, it gets better.” Jesse Short
‘Believe Me: A Memoir of Love, Death and Jazz Chickens’ is published through Penguin.