As I lay in bed last night, supposedly on my way to sleep, things kept pushing their way my thoughts. This happens quite often.  It’s all the lying down and doing nothing. My brain demands amusement. It demands thoughts to amuse itself with. It doesn’t really care what the thoughts are as long as they are plenty. I can do some really great thinking when I’m trying to get to sleep. Ideas for blogposts, stories, bits of novel; they pop up like virilant plukes throbbing red and demanding to be harassed.  Unfortunately, thinking is not conducive to sleep.  Sometimes, to counteract the thinking I recite a mantra in my head over and over, trying to focus on that instead of everything else. It can be a quite useful technique for calming the brain down but it demands a certain dedication i.e. You gotta keep repeating that thing and not let your mind wander.

One of the things that was plaguing me last night was me imagining myself doing stand up comedy. I’ve done this before, quite literaly coming up with a routine in my head whilst i’m trying to sleep. Last night I came up with a quite ingenious way for dealing with a heckler wherein you make out that you’ve seen him (or her) before at your previous shows, creeping about outside your bedroom window, going through your rubbish bins etc., and that the heckler in question is in fact stalking you. I thought it would be quite amusing if delivered right.  I might not ever have a go at stand up but I doubt that fact would stop my brain from turning to it from time to time.

The reason I had stand up on my mind was because I’d just seen the new Eddie Izzard dvd.

Eddie Izzard is probably one of my favourite comics. His free-wheeling, surreal and erudite performance style that veers on the random but is obviously quite carefully thought out just really hits my spot. He has so many routines that just pop up in my head and make me smile. Like this one, and this one, and this one. Truely he is an amusing genius.

Eddie has been out of the standup game for a while now, It’s been 6 years since the release of Sexie, due quite probably to the awful lot of film & tv work he’s been doing. I had some inkling that he was touring this year, that a dvd would follow, and here it is;  Live from Wembly. Oh the joy!

It isn’t his best. I mean, you go back and watch dressed to kill or glorious and you think to yourself  “who is this hilarious maniac in a dress?” for Izzard is a transvestite.  In live from wembly he is wearing jeans. My guess is that with all the film work he has a certain duty now towards a more mainstream audience that might freak the fuck out if they saw a guy in a dress  so he has gently pushed his persona away from the fringes.  There are other difference from his earlier material too that can be hard to put your finger on.

6 years is a long time not to do something. If you stopped driving for 6 years the chances are you might be a bit rusty and this is something that comes across. All the ingredients are there but his timing seems slightly off. Where before he could veer from subject to subject with surreal ease things seem a little forced here. There are several points where he references gags from his previous shows which the audience laps up eagerly like crack puppies at their mothers teat. Two of the jokes seem like they’ve been lifted from Billy Connolly shows (the opera bit and the gazelle bit, although it’s giraffes here) and there is a point in the show where Eddie jokingly tells the audience “These shows are just for me, you know” and maybe this is the case. tv and film probably pay better than standup and it could be that he went on tour again because he missed doing what he used to do.

Even if it is it doesn’t really matter. He’s still really fucking funny. I probably would of found the show even funnier if I wasn’t such a fan and noticed all these things. My only hope is that he goes on tour again in 2010 and releases another dvd, to further re-sharpen the blade of his wit, so that I may worship with abandon at the altar of his very excellent comedy.

If you’ve never seen Eddie Izzard in action I recommend starting with his earlier shows. Or maybe start here and work backwards. You won’t be disappointed. Unless you just don’t like him in which case to each his own. Innit.

update: I just spend a age of monkeys looking for decent videos on youtube for the new dvd and they’re all handheld shakily audience deals with bad audio. Sorry.