In 10 Words or Less
The funniest man in a dress
Loves: Eddie Izzard, stand-up
It's been a while since an Eddie Izzard DVD release (at least here in the colonies,) and the Sexie tour was some time ago, so we are well overdue for a load of cross-dressing funny. Thankfully we now have Eddie Izzard: Live at Wembley, yet another confident set from one of the most outstanding stand-up performers working today. Working the biggest stage in his homeland, he is the man (with breasts.)
This 89-minute set includes many of the hallmarks of a trademark Izzard performance, like animals, history and a hefty dose of silliness. As he riffs about Greek heroes and the discovery of fire and shares his thoughts on guide dogs and annoying bugs, his command of the stage and charismatic delivery makes it's incredibly easy to fall under his sway. That he's undeniably smart and yet willing to come across as completely goofy makes it a slam dunk that you'll connect with him (if smart comedy is your thing, of course.)
If smart comedy actually isn't your thing though, you may want to keep moving, as a joke about the Viking origin of the word kiosk isn't going to speak to you. The same goes for spelling jokes about rescue vehicles and his theory about the sobriety of the authors of Greek myths. But he throws in enough silly comedy for the unenlightened to find enjoyment. It doesn't take much context to enjoy a bit about the adventures of superhero Captain Transvestite or the advantages and joys of breasts.
What isn't so great about this show is the lack of that killer memorable bit that all his previous shows offered up. Anyone who's experienced his comedy can remember his jokes about the office life of beekeepers, his tale of the blue pants' espionage mission or the origin of Mr. Dog. But here, outside of an amusing short gag about firemen and their "slidey poles" or his observations on sharks, there isn't much here I'll be remembering when staring out the window on a boring day. That's not to say I even once considered turning it off, because I certainly didn't. I just think I would reach for Glorious or Definite Article first.
A one-disc release packed in a standard keepcase, this DVD features a static full-frame menu offering a choice to watch the show, select segments and check out the special features. There are no audio options, no subtitles and no closed captioning.
The anamorphic widescreen video on this DVD leaves a lot to be desired, as the image is frequently quite soft and lacking in fine detail, while the color burns too bright, especially in Izzard's blood-red top, which smears in most of the show's angles. Maybe it's just the way the performance was lit, but it doesn't look so hot, though there are no compression issues introduced.
The Dolby Digital 2.0 audio track is better, but still average, putting Izzard's voice and the audience's reactions in a clean, balanced mix that keeps everything in the right place, but misses the immersive feel of a full surround track.
Aside from a trailer for Believe, the new Izzard documentary, the only extra is a nice one, a 39-minute set titled "Live from Norwich." Playing a small, simple stage in a very low-key outfit, Izzard seems to be working out material for the Sexie tour, and it's interesting to see his material in a gestational stage. Though there's a lot of repetition from the main show, it's getting to see a pro go through their process that's the real draw here.
The Bottom Line
There are few comics who perform with more presence than Izzard, and it's not just because he's wearing high heels and a dress. His command of language and smooth delivery make even the weakest joke in his set worth listening to, which is a good thing, since this show doesn't have a stand-out bit on a level with a "cake or death" or "covered with bees." But, like sex and pizza, there's no such thing as bad Izzard. Though the video on this disc isn't so hot, it sounds fine, and offers up an second preparatory show as a bonus, which makes this a great bargain for fans of the man in the make-up.