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86 of 92 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars No Head In A Box At The End, 6 Dec. 2009
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This review is from: Eddie Izzard: The Ultimate Eddie Izzard Collection [DVD] (DVD)
Eddie Izzard is without doubt one of the finest and most original comedians in history. Collected here are seven of his stand up shows. Unfortunately, his first and breakthrough show Live At The Ambassadors is not on here and is currently still unavailable on DVD. Whether there is a copyright issue or Mr Izzard doesn't want it to see the light of day for his own reasons, perhaps someone can enlighten me? It is a pity, as it was a defining moment.

The first time I encountered Eddie Izzard was whilst watching an edited version of his second show, Unrepeatable, one night on Channel 4 in the mid 90's. I had prior to this had a conception that his transvestism was a gimmick and his act would be poor, so I had narrow mindedly taken a dislike to him. I think I tuned into the show to prove myself correct. An hour and several dollops of humble pie later, I searched out his other material.

At about the same time Unrepeatable was being shown, Definite Article became available on video. By this time, Izzard (whether self deliberate or just through the quality if his material) was reaching a wider audience. I remember laughing hard at the bird in plane sequence on a TV chat show when he was plugging this release. Definite Arcticle sits nicely alongside Unrepeatable as the finest work in Izzard's ouevre.

Now firmly emplaced as my favourite comedian, I was first in the que to see his next show Glorious in the flesh. I remember being a bit disgruntled at the time that the Video was released before the tour was finished. However, both myself and then girlfriend loved the show itself. Watching it back on DVD, there really was sufficiently different material to evidence the fact his shows evolve as the tour progresses and he does genuinally improvise.

A year later brought Dress To Kill. However, on this show there was a noticeable dip in the quality of the material. At the time I assumed it was due to the frequency of his tours/shows. After all, this was his fifth in the space of 6/7 years. I did laugh like a drain however when he informed the audience about the status of Englebert Humperdinck, subsequently changing his mind for comic effect about 15 times.

If Dress To Kill was the show where I suspected that Izzard's work was on the downslide, Circle was the show that confirmed it. By no means bad, against most other comedians the show can still be considered superior, but it was still disappointing by the standards that he had set himself. Featuring the much talked about (if slightly overrated) Death Star canteen sequence (are you Jeff Vader?!).

A few years after came Sexie, which was not only Izzard's worst material, but also his delivery has become increasingly rambling. Although he had been predisposed to ramble and improvise in all his previous shows, the source material was very tight, a product of continually honing it in front of smaller audiences. This show seemed like he had performed it in front of a few audiences full of Eddieophiles and then released into the wider domain.

After a six year hiatus largely furthering his film career, with much fanfare came Stripped. I had hoped the intervening years since Sexie would have given Eddie the chance to recharge his comedy batteries. Unfortunately Stripped just seemed like an extension of Sexie. A very bloated feel, with several of his previous subject matters being revisited. The material is different enough, but it still feels like tipping the hat a little too much.

In summary, three classics, two good, two not so good, one absentee. I can only hope that Eddie Izzard rethinks his delivery and gets back to basics with his material before thinking of embarking on another show. Although it could be time for Eddie to hang up his boots, this package is testiment to his brilliance. Anyone of the first three shows is worthy of the entrance fee only.
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Showing 1-8 of 8 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 8 Dec 2009 16:52:59 GMT
A well written and useful review. I particularly liked the admission of early dislike. I appreciate the candour and description. From someone who makes a living writing. Top notch!

Posted on 8 Dec 2009 17:05:01 GMT
A well written and useful review. I particularly liked the admission of early dislike. I appreciate the candour and description. From someone who makes a living writing. Top notch!

In reply to an earlier post on 8 Dec 2009 18:06:39 GMT
Many thanks Mr Joisce. Those comments were unexpected and made the effort of writing it more than worthwhile.

Posted on 31 Dec 2009 08:37:01 GMT
Last edited by the author on 31 Dec 2009 08:41:33 GMT
Simon Davis says:
Just to let you know that Live at The Ambassadors is available on VHS & as an audio CD but according to Eddie it won't be released on dvd because he had a c**p hairdo on the video ( his own words not mine - I know because I asked him about a dvd release at a Q & A session he did 4 a few of us on the loading area of the MEN Arena after his "Stripped" gig in November)

Posted on 26 Jan 2010 21:52:14 GMT
Thanks very much - a very useful review.

Posted on 9 Mar 2010 23:55:46 GMT
Vanderelt says:
Thanks a lot, a review that dovetails with my own thinking entirely; I'm definitely putting this colleciton on my Wsihlist now! I was delighted to read your remarks about that Channel 4 edited showing of 'Unrepeatable' back in what was it, 1995 or 1996 maybe, as it was on that was the very same occasion that I too discovered Eddie Izzard for the first time: he instantly became my favourite comedian, and I've never looked back since... I think it was a fortuitous introduction for both of us since as far as I know his live shows have never been broadcast on TV apart from that one instance - which ironically has sort of vindicated my assumption at the time, aged about 16/17 and not knowing that comedy shows had titles like music albums do, that the programme's title was just a Channel 4 label implying it could never be shown again!

I'm disappointed to learn that after such a long hiatus 'Stripped' is barely an improvement on the last outing, even if it does at least halt the general downward slide - though I have to say that I saw 'Sexie' live at Wembley Arena and, while far from the level of 'Glorious' et al, the show at that point in its cycle was definitely a good deal funnier than what had already been committed to DVD; which makes one wish lessons had been learned this time around and the latest DVD not released so early in its parent show's lifespan, seeing how Eddie's routines are generally reckoned to grow and change and flourish in the retelling over the course of a tour. Of course then the promoters wouldn't have so much opportunity to shift copies at the live shows, so it's not likely to change any time soon, but there we go. I did think better of wishlisting 'Stripped' after reading reviews on here, but once I'd seen it listed as part of this amazing-value package I reckon I couldn't go wrong if I order the box set, seeing how for the price of about one more DVD you get all six previous shows as well. At the moment I merely possess 'Glorious', 'Dress To Kill', 'Circle' and 'Sexie' on video, so this looks like a magnificent opportunity to upgrade and fill-in my collection (sans '...Ambassadors') in one fell swoop...

In reply to an earlier post on 9 Dec 2010 10:06:20 GMT
Claire says:
I saw 'Stripped' live in London and would like to say that you are right in your suspicion that it was indeed WAY better than the DVD would make it good as the dvd is.
I was absolutely blown away by the show and laughed so much I couldnt breathe. It was PACKED from start to finish with very clever and hilarious material that I think equalled or outshone any of his previous material, and I have loved it all.....although I do admit that Sexie was weaker in comparison.
I find it a real shame that so often, comedy dvds are not capturing the live show for whatever reason and it is something that the producers of these dvds, which are becoming MASSIVELY popular need to bear in mind. I do think that Eddie's dvds have increasingly become a victim of this.

In reply to an earlier post on 20 Dec 2010 03:04:34 GMT
BBC2 just proved you wrong by showing Stripped last night
and one of the ch4 channels (e4?) has shown Circle/Dressed to kill
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