Grappling German grammar, Eddie Izzard proves humor can travel

Wed Jan 29, 2014 10:27am EST
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By Victoria Bryan

BERLIN (Reuters) - If anyone wants to know the German for "weasels covered in gravy", then comic Eddie Izzard, who unlike some of his countrymen is a lover of all things European, is the go-to man.

The stand-up, already known for doing shows in French, is bringing his Force Majeure tour to audiences in German, Spanish, Russian and Arabic - all languages he doesn't actually speak. Until now.

Standing somewhat nervously in front of a 250-strong crowd in Berlin's Quatsch Comedy Club, the 51-year-old Izzard tells the audience his aim is to encourage harmony among Europeans.

"It's comedy without borders, not borders without comedy," Izzard, who sported deep red nail varnish for Saturday's sold-out hour-long set, said in British-accented German to laughter and applause.

The comic and actor is on a mission to prove that everyone, whether in Britain, Germany or elsewhere, has a sense of humor that can be understood by others. He won't be adapting the show for audiences just because they're in a different country.

"There's no 'British' sense of humor," the man once referred to as the 'lost Python' by Monty Python co-creator John Cleese, told Reuters. "All humor is human, it's the references that are national."

"I predict that someone should be able to go to a native tribe, learn their language and then make them laugh."

Certainly there have been instances of other comedians crossing borders. Henning Wehn, who describes himself as 'the German comedy ambassador', and fellow German comic Michael Mittermeier have enjoyed English-speaking success.   Continued...

Comedian Eddie Izzard gestures as he speaks after being presented with the 6th Annual Outstanding Lifetime Achievement Award in Cultural Humanism at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts February 20, 2013. REUTERS/Jessica Rinaldi