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Funnyman Eddie has SA in his sights

Published Jun 13, 2013

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Before the South African leg of British comedian and actor Eddie Izzard’s Force Majeure World Tour starts, the man who has made talking “bollocks” famous spoke to Helen Herimbi about running marathons, running for mayor and running in different comedic directions.

For the Force Majeure World Tour, Eddie Izzard is set to grace 25 stages in places that include northern America, Africa, Australia, Eurasia, Europe and more. When I catch up with him, he is in Brighton, England.

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“It’s good to be in a UK town,” he says in that heavy, matter-of-fact voice. “It’s nice to see the sunshine.”

I remind him he’ll be visiting Cape Town and Joburg at the end of the month in winter, so he can only hope for sunshine, but that doesn’t faze him. The last time Izzard performed in this country was when he toured with his super-successful Stripped show.

The 51-year-old has attempted to run 27 marathons in honour of Nelson Mandela. He didn’t reach 27 because of medical problems, but says he will be trying again next year.

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Izzard also has plans to run for mayor. He said: “In 2019, I have to stop doing drama and comedy and go into politics and run for London mayor. I have maybe two more shows and marathons and acting in the Hannibal television series (on DStv’s Sony channel) before I need to engage with the rest of the world.”

But before he runs too far ahead of himself, he plans to be running through your mind long after he has left the stage at the GrandWest Casino or the Sandton Convention Centre with Force Majeure.

The French phrase means “superior force” or a “chance occurrence, unavoidable accident” and Izzard tells me: “Evolution was a part of the last show. It’s about the struggle for us to do the right thing as people rather than going to the extremes of being capitalists. It’s about the centre, human sacrifice, about Lord of the Rings and ancient Greek gods. I have to go in a different direction to try to find different things in life.”

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A great American rapper who goes by the name Jean Grae – Abdullah Ibrahim and Sathima Bea Benjamin’s daughter – was so inspired by Izzard’s humour and specifically his Church Of England gag (YouTube it!) that she decided to name her upcoming album Cake or Death.

When I ask him if he is aware of his influence and ability to turn history into humour, he sounds chipper and says: “Only later on because initially, I was just trying to be funny. I realised no one was doing sets on history and, as Churchill realised as well, we can learn from it.”

With the kind of comedy that allows you to laugh and think, we’re all better off because of Izzard’s realisation.

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• Catch Izzard in the Force Majeure World Tour at the GrandWest Casino in Cape Town (R312 to R693) on Tuesday and at the Sandton Convention Centre in Joburg on June 21, 22 and 23 (R441 to R743). Book at Computicket.

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