Down the Tube with Eddie Izzard, would-be Mayor of London

31 Jul

IEddie Izzard Time Out covert’s not often you bump into movie stars on the Tube, dressed to kill in lipstick, earrings, black trouser-suit and high heels. Especially not the male ones.

But there, click-clacking just ahead of me in a tunnel underneath Oxford Circus, his broad shoulders the only clue to his real gender, is the inimitable Eddie Izzard. “Eddie,” I stop him. “Fabulous to bump into you again.” I’d met Britain’s greatest stand-up comic a few times when I was editing Time Out in the ‘90s. “I wouldn’t expect to find you down here.”

Eddie raises a quizzical eyebrow above his shades and smiles: “Well, you’ve got to be using public transport if you’re going to be running for Mayor.”

I shepherded Eddie through his first self-penned magazine piece on his transvestism, and later put him on the cover dressed in a bowler hat and single false eyelash like Alex from Clockwork Orange. But when he told me at a party that he was off to crack America, I was dismissive: they might not “get” his surreal, free-wheeling humour. Ha! He not only became a huge stand-up hit, but a Hollywood and US TV star. This year alone he’s been in several episodes of Hannibal, taken the lead in a Gilles McKinnon movie about the pioneer of Radar, acted alongside Dustin Hoffman and Kathy Bates in next year’s Boychoir, and joined in with his beloved Pythons on Terry Jones’s new film Absolutely Anything.

And let’s not forget that, in 2009, he completed 43 marathons in 51 days for Sport Relief. So when he assures me now, of his political ambitions, “I’m a fighter, and we need fighters,” it’s clear that you have to look beyond the red nail polish.

“People often want a simple yes or no answer in politics,” he talks as we walk, “when the answers aren’t simple. The extremists are popular because they give simple answers, like ‘Everything will be fine if we just get out of Europe.’ But things weren’t fine before that, so why should that suddenly solve everything?”

And if Boris bows out as expected in 2016 [Update: Boris has just announced he will run for MP in 2015, standing down as Mayor in 2016], might Izzard run for Mayor then? “I couldn’t. I’ve always said it would be in 2020. I’ve spent time building this career, and anyway, politics is a fiendishly complex business and I need to learn.”

After a slight wobble on the escalator – those killer heels can be murder – we stand talking for a while above ground at Oxford Circus. “I might fuck up, at first. But the way I see it, everyone fucks up. Boris does all the time and it doesn’t hurt him; even Obama does. It’s the way you deal with your fuck-ups, your approach to fucked-up-edness, that counts.”

It’s endearingly Izzard, to coin a word like “fucked-up-edness”. It’s not a concept many politicians would admit to, let alone a term they might use. He takes off his shades, and it appears they are neither a style statement nor a disguise: he has a touch of red-eye. “I expect I’ll get raked over by the press, though, about the dress thing,” he says thoughtfully.

Really? It’s not exactly a secret. And besides, it’s a great look. In the early days Eddie resembled a trucker in drag; now he’s more Hillary Clinton than Anne Widdecombe.

“No, but apart from me, and then [the artist] Grayson Perry, there aren’t exactly many transvestite role models. That said, I did some campaigning recently in bright red lipstick, and no one turned a hair, no one mentioned it. It had to be bright red, for Labour! That was the only joke I was allowed to put in the speech,” he adds, a little ruefully.

Boris has his trademark floppy hair. Would lipstick and heels really be such a stretch for voters?

I shake Eddie’s immaculately manicured, surprisingly delicate hand, and wish him well. “Enjoy the sunshine,” he says cheerily, and strides confidently into the churning crowds of London’s busiest intersection, thin black heels clacking.

Eddie Izzard for Mayor? I was wrong about his chances once. I won’t be betting against him again.

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17 Responses to “Down the Tube with Eddie Izzard, would-be Mayor of London”

  1. Eva August 7, 2014 at 11:59 pm #

    Oh, how I love Eddie. His stand-up is the best. I do hope he runs an effective campaign and wins. He’s lovely.

  2. allgrownupinlondon August 8, 2014 at 10:46 am #

    If only…please let’s hope this is true!

  3. jensine August 8, 2014 at 12:19 pm #

    People can be so surprising and some people just always have another one in store … or on the shoe shelf

  4. J.E.S August 8, 2014 at 12:40 pm #

    Eddie is fantastic and wickedly brilliant! I wish I had him as a history teacher while in school! What a depth of character. Loved the piece!

    • dominicwells August 8, 2014 at 12:53 pm #

      Glad you liked the piece! Yes, I’m a big Eddie fan. I still have a great T-shirt from his ‘Glorious’ show at the Union Chapel in 1997!

    • VivianColdwater August 12, 2014 at 12:25 pm #

      Wow, I envy you. Wish I had a cool history teacher.

  5. Jen August 8, 2014 at 4:43 pm #

    I love Eddie! I just wish he could run for office here in the US. We need more honest fucked – uped – ness here, & just way more plain honesty.

  6. catinmythroat August 8, 2014 at 10:14 pm #

    I can’t think of anyone I would rather meet on the Tube. Lucky you. I have seen him in NZ a few times and admire him so much – taking his comedy into his second language and touring France, for instance. Or his classic Darth Vadar in the Deathstar canteen riff. I love the fact that his being a transvestite is not the focus of his comedy – it’s just who he is. Hopefully the same will apply to him in politics. Sad to lose him to comedy though – hope politics doesn’t suck the life out of him

  7. donkeyloco August 10, 2014 at 2:39 am #

    A Clock Work Orange great movie and a must see, different, provocative, and ??

  8. peaceinpatience August 10, 2014 at 2:36 pm #

    ‘Fucked-up-edness’, priceless! A man or woman that admits his/her mistakes and makes and attempt to correct them is worth their weight in gold.

  9. susipet August 10, 2014 at 8:41 pm #

    How great it would be if he succeeded!

  10. Saneddie MUA August 12, 2014 at 1:27 pm #

    Reblogged this on SANEDDIE MUA and commented:
    Our World!

  11. goodolewoody August 13, 2014 at 1:08 am #

    Reblogged this on GoodOleWoody's Blog and Website.

  12. misstanyabrooks August 15, 2014 at 1:32 am #

    Wow great story to walk away with and what a person to meet!! Jealous 🙂 haha so cool. Eddie for Mayor!

  13. Zuzanna Vee August 30, 2014 at 9:17 pm #

    Very good. Enjoyed your article. As a recent American convert to Izzard (tho I did see him at the Edinburgh Festival in 1989 when he was riding a unicycle), I hope he wins. He is a real inspiration to me. Go Eddie!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Jimsbox Newsletter | August 9th 2014 | JimsBox.com - August 9, 2014

    […] Down the Tube with Eddie Izzard, would-be Mayor of London […]

  2. Time Out axes Comedy section: are you ‘avin’ a laugh? | London, Hollywood - December 19, 2015

    […] Heaven (the nightclub, that is; we’d be more likely to choose the Other Place as a venue); told Eddie Izzard at a party that he’d never break America as they wouldn’t “get” his humour (boy was I […]

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