Sheer essay boredom. That is why I’m here. This is the level of procrastination we are talking about. I do realise this is incredibly tedious. I don’t like blogs where people talk about their day or how bored they are either. It’s impossible not to sound like a moron, so…
Yesterday, I went to see Eddie Izzard at the SECC. Without resorting to short, dismissive, undescriptive words which don’t tell you very much, I would say that he was crap. He sold out the SECC, I don’t remember which auditorium we were in but it was MASSIVE. I thought that I was bad at visualising numbers but my number dyslexic sister was impressed to the point of exclaiming, “there must be nine hundred people in here!” Bless. Anyway, there were several screens so I was resigned to looking at a very large projection of a very tiny man whose jeans were too tight from approximately two miles away.
I’ll start with some positives: 1. He was very punctual. 2. He did a long set. 3. He was very punctual.
You’ll see that I’ve only listed two positives there. And one is a technicality. He was onstage for a long time so you felt you were getting your money’s worth, unfortunately about 60% of his set was non-verbal (i.e. stupid noises and time-killing improv) and 80% was old material (you’ll see that these highly scientific and accurate figures overlap). What’s left is about 10% of new spoken material. None of it funny. I was with a group of people who were too polite or too in denial at having paid £30 for a ticket for anyone to say outright that watching it felt like a groan that lasted an hour and a half. Instead people say things like “he’s gone too political and mainstream”, “he’s got to think about a wider market now that he’s got his film career”.
Izzard is carving out a film career as a bad actor. That’s the whole charm of watching his acting, you know it’s bad but also that he’s trying really hard to impress the big boys/shots. It’s endearing. The other thing is, Izzard’s brand of comedy is very mainstream now, or is was about three years ago. He addressed the 900-or-so-strong audience that we must be ‘outside the box thinkers’. No. Really not so. I admit it (although I didn’t buy my ticket). His show would only appealed to those who actually enjoy hearing the same jokes over and over again. For about ten years. How many times can you tell the story about the Ark? How self-referential can you be and still expect a laugh?
I know he’s done good things like run excessively long distances for charity but I’m not convinced that’s an adequate excuse. I’d like to be more witty in my disapproval but it was so dull that I’m not even moved to, there’s not one thing he said that I can pin down and pour scorn on, it just wasn’t anything at all. It’s sad because I used to think he was really funny. True, I was about ten but I don’t think the problem is that I’ve grown up. His comedy was just stagnant and phony. He went through all the motions of comedy, very vigorously at times, but did little to produce anything more than a smirk. I had to be nudged awake at one point. As for political, making jokes about Bush doesn’t count, they’re hardly the hallmark of an informed or even humorous person. Doing stand up in a small venue and dying on your arse is permissible, even expected, but to stand up in front of thousands for an extended period of time and not even recognise (read: admit) the patently obvious is just a little bit rude.
What I mean is, he’s sold out. That probably doesn’t come as a shock to you but I was slightly awed to see it on such a vast scale. No one even heckled. Was there a secret agreement? ‘Eddie Izzard, he’s well known, he’s meant to be funny…he must be funny…because he’s well known.’ It’s the Treaty of the Bland. When something or someone is accepted as being good, you take the whole family and you get a Boneless Bargain Bucket on the way home. You don’t particularly enjoy any of it but it’s inoffensive and it’s what you’re used to, so why kick up a fuss? I could be wrong, maybe Eddie’s comedy is just a bit too quaint for me these days. Terse language and jokes about disabilities and paedophilia and mass murderers, you get inured to those, especially with so many repeats of Mock the Week. Ninja sheep just won’t cut it any more. Especially when people are tweeting about it during the interval before he’s even got to that part his set, assuming he has one. And no one spends thirty quid to watch you look up Wikipedia on your iphone, that I actually do find offensive, I’m perfectly capable of keeping myself misinformed.