Can one man make the whole world laugh? Eddie Izzard thinks so. His Force Majeure Tour has so far taken him to 25 countries on five continents . And now he’s coming here to treat Maui to a one-night-only show. His visit will take place right after Bali and Singapore and just before his Belfast and London appearances, where he’ll perform in German, French and English. We caught up with him to ask his thoughts on transgender bathrooms, President Trump and why he runs so many marathons.
MAUITIME: What does “Force Majeure” mean?
EDDIE IZZARD: Force Majeure can mean many things, but I take it to mean force of nature. I feel we all have to be our own forces of nature to push back against hatred and simplistic politics as well.
MT: Does everyone in the world laugh at the same stuff?
EI: There was a big stumbling block to traveling the world with comedy up to the 1990s or early 2000s. People felt there was a different sense of humor in every country. I felt there wasn’t or that that wasn’t the way to look at it. I feel there are multiple senses of humor in every country and so if, like me, you do surreal, off-the-wall intelligent comedy (Monty Pythonesque), you just have to find the audiences that like that type of comedy. And they do exist because luckily, Monty Python is already known around the world.
MT: If you could change anything about the world, what would it be?
EI: I would have a no dickhead policy for the world. And I’m afraid your president would have to resign under this policy.
MT: What has been your favorite place in the US on this tour?
EI: America is my favorite place to play in the USA. To be honest, the audiences that have come in every single state of America have been amazing and open-minded and very groovy, even in some states where you would not expect that. It just shows there are cool and open-minded people with great senses of humor all across America and all around the world. I can’t choose one state over another.
MT: Okay, if you could change anything about the US, what would it be?
EI: Well, I have an interesting “fix” for the bathroom situation in the US–with reference to the transgender community. My fix is this: if you remove all urinals from all bathrooms and make all bathrooms in American and the world available for all sexes at any time, then you get rid of the problem in one fell swoop. This already exists in all restaurants. It’s normally one bathroom in any restaurant and men and women use it and have no problems. If all bathrooms are all cubicles, then everyone can just behave in an adult way and also women won’t have to form lines for the bathroom of their own. Everyone could be forming a line and so it’s much fairer to men and women.
MT: What do you think Trump’s legacy will be?
EI: Brexhate and Trumphate are now existing in the world but we did go through the 1930s before. We fought extremism and hatred back then and we have to fight it again now. But even if half the world looks like it’s marching backwards, the other half of the world has to keep marching forward. This century, we have to make an entire world where all seven billion people have a fair chance to live decent lives and we won’t get that by encouraging hatred, building walls and sticking our heads in the ground.
MT: How do we move forward through all the hate?
EI: Brexhate is a very negative thing for the United Kingdom and for Europe. Donald Trump had a slogan during his campaign which was “Make America Hate Again.” He spelled it a little differently, but that’s what he meant. We are not going to make this world a better and safer world by running and hiding. On this tour, now in 36 countries and in four languages, I’m showing that we can say, “I’m proud of my country but can we learn from you or can you learn from us.” That’s the way to move humanity forward.
MT: How is the stand-up comedy scene in Europe different from the U.S.?
I think there are multiple senses of humor in every country so therefore there are distinct similarities between the comedy scenes in Europe and in America. If I compare the scene in Britain to the scene in America, the American comedy scene has more money in it than the scene in Britain has, because quite simply you have a bigger population and more people to play to. Comedians can have a successful and very well-paid film or TV career in America. In Britain, comedians can have a successful and quite well-paid TV career but very few get to do comedy films. I think we do more comedy stand-up touring in the UK than comedians do generally in America. I think American comedians could tour as much as we tour but they don’t need to. And they’ve usually got a TV series or a film to make. We don’t have so much of that so we tour like crazy and we’re now touring more and more around the whole world.
MT: Last year, you ran 27 marathons in 27 weeks in South Africa to raise money for charity and as a tribute to Mandela. How did you train for that? Would you do it again?
EI: Last March, I ran 27 marathons in 27 days and the best part of succeeding in finishing the 27 marathons, including a double marathon on the last day, was the fact that I had tried four years before and had failed. The training for multiple marathons is more mental than physical. I just always try and stay match fit these days and try and always be ready to run a large number of marathons whenever the situation arises. I absolutely will run multiple marathons again sometime soon in the future.
MT: What kind of advice would you give aspiring young comedians?
EI: As a friend once told me: do a hundred gigs. And by then you’ll know if you’re any good or not.
EDDIE IZZARD: FORCE MAJEURE – HAWAII FIVE-O
Friday Mar 10, 7:30pm
Maui Arts and Cultural Center,
1 Cameron Way, Kahului