Is Yemen Ready for This?
Eddie Izzard is planning one of the most hazardous assignments in the history of
showbusiness. During his next tour, loosely scheduled for 2007, the
cross-dressing comedian hopes to perform in Yemen. It would be a bold move: the
Arabic state has no tradition of stand-up, scant regard for free speech, and
takes a dim view of western mores. And, as if that wasn't enough, Izzard also
intends to address the local audiences in their native tongue. "Eddie was born
in Yemen," says a spokesman. "He's been learning Arabic; it's a long-term
ambition, but we're thinking about it for the next tour." The comic is also
learning German and Russian, with a view to appearing in those countries.
"Russia has been left out of Europe, and it's important to integrate the former
Eastern Bloc, so I'm doing my bit," he says.
A quote from the Seattle Post Intelligencer (sounds like Seattle Post More Smarter to me):
Stand-up is his forte, however, allowing him to present himself as a
sensible guy reacting to the crazed actions of others. If his version of
sensible comes in hot pants and high heels, he takes it for granted that he's
entitled, living as he is in the third millennium.
"The word transvestite is so second millennium," he says. "By the end of
the third millennium, men in makeup will be everywhere, and you'll be
He accepts the word transvestite but prefers male lesbian, because he
fancies women. He'll bandy terms about, but that's as far as he'll get into his
personal life. On stage you won't hear what his dad is like, how he felt about
his mother's early death or what his girlfriend thinks of his girl gear. The
topic of boarding school occasionally creeps in, especially as an explanation of
why as a teen he hid his desire to don gay attire: "I'd have been killed."
If his jokes don't translate well into Arabic, that might be prophetic.