Eddie running through Burscough for Comic Relief
I had the privilege of shaking hands with the awesome Eddie Izzard today - a truly humbling experience, considering that not only is this one of the funniest comedians in the world, but also, more importantly, he was about 22 miles into his fifteenth marathon for Comic Relief / Sport Relief. Because it's important, the link for donating is here:
You can also follow his amazing and crazy antics on Twitter.
And so, on to the other reasons to love (and support) Eddie Izzard.
It's fairly safe to assume everyone knows Eddie is a transvestite. He wears make-up extraordinarily well; some of his outfits are beyond stunning and one can only marvel at the fact that the man doesn't fall over himself, charging about the stage in 3+ inch high heels. He simultaneously manages to shove his transvestism in your face and just 'be it'. Whilst others in the limelight would be mortified by the prospect of their cross-dressing being declared of public interest, Eddie proudly displays his identity for all to see.
Unlike most British people, he's taken the time to learn a language other than English. The rest of us are too idle or too arrogant to bother, but Eddie is fluent in French and even though I don't understand some bits of his sketch about being bilingual, it remains one of my favourites, because he has this knack of taking the mundane and making it sublimely funny. It is his lack of ignorance in general and Britishness in particular that makes him one of the best ambassadors the UK has ever had.
From Star Wars (Death Star Canteen for example) to Bee-keeping (Covered in Bees), Eddie's eclecticism shows off his intellect and quick wit. Now, there are other comedians who do this kind of 'off-the-wall' observation comedy fairly well, but they don't quite have that sense of being one of us. There's always a quick snipe at someone, a negative undercurrent. Eddie's comedy is always optimistic.
"We could be the biggest melting pot in the world. 500 million people. All we've got to do is melt a bit, just move it around."
It's easy for me to say 'I love Eddie Izzard' because I have always agreed with what he says. I simply do not understand racism, or indeed prejudice of any sort. Oh, I know the academic explanations like the back of my hand, and it is the one and only set of theories that make me think 'what a load of bollocks'. "Men and Women are fundamentally different" stated an article I read a couple of days ago in 'Psychology Today' and yet they have so much more in common than any other species on this planet as to be essentially identical. And, yes, I do mean essentially.
Whilst there are undeniable differences between us, they are the makings of a richer experience in this world. I love being able to talk to other people about their religious beliefs or culture, going into these interchanges as I do, with a naivete that is possibly bordering on tactless, but genuine, innocent, curiosity and interest. My RE class were a long way from complaining when we sat for five minutes after school finished just to listen to the wonder that is the call to prayer in Istanbul. We just have to take the time and effort to appreciate each other and share what we have.
It might all sound naive and idealistic, but I don't care because Eddie Izzard is on my side. On his blog about his run for Comic Relief he explains the thinking for 'his mission':
WE ARE DIFFERENT
WE ARE THE SAME
WE ARE UNITED KINGDOM
WE ARE AFRICA
WE ARE HUMANITY
I'm not going to propose 'Eddie Izzard for Prime Minister' because it would be a dreadful waste, but I hope he's about when the Vulcans make first contact.