Good luck trying to pigeonhole Eddie Izzard. The comedian is a straight, transgender man who self-identifies as a “radical moderate.” His standup act is as educational as a college-level history class, and he’s equally comfortable acting opposite Judi Dench as voicing characters in animated features “The Lego Batman Movie” and “Cars 2.”
The polymath entertainer — who plans to run for office in his homeland England — will bring his “Wunderbar” tour to the Beacon Theatre for a five-night run, starting Tuesday.
Izzard developed “Wunderbar” in French, debuting it aboard a floating theater on the Seine then trotting out a German version. Now touring the US with the English incarnation, Izzard says that besides the language, he hasn’t had to change much.
“If you explain the references — William the Conqueror is an old, dead English guy — people get it,” Izzard tells The Post. “Human sacrifice, that was bloody weird, why would anyone do that? There are certainly universal subjects: haircuts, sex, houses, supermarkets, ancient people, the big bang. And short of the names of political people, going country to country, I’ve learned how to do that.”
Next year, he’ll play George in “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” opposite Laurie Metcalf. He’ll also star in the World War II film “Six Minutes To Midnight” alongside Dench and is working on a one-man performance of Charles Dickens’ “Great Expectations.”
Izzard chatted with The Post last week about “Wunderbar,” his love for film, his upcoming return to Broadway and his political future.
There are a lot of historical references in your standup. Were you a history buff in school?
I was, but I didn’t like doing the essays, and I didn’t do them very well. I liked reading the history books. I have a theory that history plus change in society multiplied by changes in technology equals the future. So yeah, I’ve found it useful.
You’ve done Broadway (earning a Tony nomination for “A Day in the Death of Joe Egg”) and will return next year in “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” What do you get out of acting in a play as opposed to stand-up, two different types of live performances?
You’ve got these great words from whatever play you’re doing — hopefully it’s a great piece. It’s also dramatic as opposed to comedic. There are laughs in “Virginia Woolf,” but I do love drama. You spend a lot of time standing on the stage when other people come on. That was just a great feeling to be on the stage and doing Broadway next year is going to be something, and it’s great working with top-class people.
Was transgender even a word when you started performing in women’s clothes?
It wasn’t. There were 12 groupings of transgenders, which I was in one. I was TV (transvestite). It’s pejorative. Then TS (transexual) and CD (crossdresser), playing with other words and adjectives, and that seemed to get a positive reaction, as did other activists. Language changes over the years, and now we’re all transgender and I’m quite happy with that.
You call yourself a radical moderate. What does that mean?
I do radical things with a moderate message. I ran over 70 marathons for charity; I do comedy in four languages, that’s quite radical. I came out as transgender, that can seem rather radical. I’m being honest about it. Live and let live. Now that I’m talking about it and people are talking about, I think people have calmed down about it. Trump hasn’t calmed down about it.
As a comedian, how do you handle Trump, who has such an over-the-top personality?
In a way, I assume he’s almost lampooning himself and he revels in it. He lies when there’s no reason to lie, with no skin in the game. Nixon, he lied, lying is part of politics, but [Trump] lies in an unusually full-on way. I think politics has got to be about building a vision for the future of good communication. Comedy is good for that. If people disagree with you, be comedic with those views.
You’ve done two movies with Judi Dench (2017’s “Victoria and Abdul” and the upcoming “Six Minutes to Midnight”). What’s it like working with her?
She is wonderful. I think the reason people like her is she’s very human. I got to know her from her coming to my comedy shows, and suddenly I’m there working with her. She’s very young at heart. I was dancing in my makeup trailer to a track, Ray Charles’ “What’d I Say,” and she started dancing with me. It was like dancing with a teenage girl. She’s very decent and nice, and she will throw herself into every role. She just really goes for it emotionally and holds nothing back, whether it’s theater or film. She’s done such great roles. It’s just a joy to be with there.
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