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Eddie Izzard: The TV Squad Interview

by Joel Keller, posted Nov 2nd 2008 11:03AM
Eddie Izzard"Eddie loves doing interviews!" is the bubbly e-mail that came to me as I was trying to arrange a date and time for the following interview with comedian Eddie Izzard. That part didn't surprise me; I've read interviews before where Izzard was engaging and expansive on all sorts of issues. The surprising thing was who the PR person e-mailing me was representing: Congressman Dennis Kucinich.

Yes, that's right: Everyone's favorite longshot Presidential candidate has Izzard in his corner as he tries to retain his House seat this week. In fact, this afternoon, Izzard will be interviewing Kucinich at a campaign fundraising event in Cleveland (tickets can still be purchased for the 3 PM ET event). We've heard before that Izzard is interested in politics; but how in the hell did he get involved in Kucinich's congressional campaign? I talk to Izzard about that, and The Riches movie that he seems to think should happen, after the jump.

Joel Keller: I know you've had an interest in politics; you've said in the past you've wanted to get involved with the European Union, the governing body of Europe?
Eddie Izzars: Yes, that's correct.

JK: How did you get attracted to the Kucinich campaign and the event on Sunday?
Izzard: Well, I met Dennis once (at one of my stand-up concerts), and I think his wife dragged him along, so it's not necessarily that he didn't really want to come, but I don't think he knew of my stuff. So when I was playing Washington, he came along. And so I got to know them, and I got to know him a little bit, and his wife being English, there was that connection there.

And then I saw them again in Cleveland, and I realized that he was this feisty fighter. And he's had a little tough time of it, and I kind of like that. It's actually classic and the American dream, someone who had to really fight his way up. And then even political experience, he's had to fight all his way, and he passionately hopes to read the documents that come out through the government as opposed to just getting them. So I thought 'Well, I'll give him a hand. Because my journey is, and t I consider the American way is you fight for justice for the common folk, rather than for just the fat cats. And I see a similarity there.

JK: Had you heard about him when he was running for President (in 2007)?
Izzard: I didn't. But I think he finished his campaign when he came to the show. I'm encyclopedic on the players in American politics, and I didn't know about him at that time. And then suddenly, I did. And I realized he'd done two campaigns, and I was saying, I wanted to look into them so I can finally I can find out more about him. Because he is a Congressman. And I'm thinking... why does he want to be a Senator too? Because the chain isn't quite....there's differences in what you can do. I know that Lincoln was a Congressman for one term, and then he rose to be President. It's a different thing (between being a Congressman and Senator). There's an election every 2 years. And I'm not...by interviewing him, I could learn more about the American political process.

JK: Is that something you're interested in learning about?
Izzad: Oh yes. I kind of want to, if you know my standup, I love information because I could learn everything, kind of in that Matrix-like way, and you shove something in the back of your head and go hey, I know everything. I know all of Wikipedia. If you did, I think you would come to a much better decision. And most politicians...I'm quite positive about politicians. I hope the majority of politicians are actually trying to do good. And I do know from Britain my involvement in the Labor Party, you really have to learn and have a hell of a lot of knowledge in their head. And even they can't get it all in. And so it's got to be better to learn more about things than to not know it, and then to make judgments based upon things that you have false information.

JK: How big a story is the presidential campaign over in England right now?
Izzard: It's a big thing. I mean, when those 200,000 were in Germany (at an Obama event)...was it 200,000? That's what I read, turned up in Germany, that's kind of what it means. This is Germany, which people still look on and say "Oh, the Germans, they do things that happened back in the 30's. That was bound to happen." Well, I don't think that. The German people are just another bunch of people who have... unfortunately, a gangster got control of them. But 200,000 Germans turning up, that is just amazing. And that speaks to the world, I really think. Because I've been in London, it would probably about three-quarters of a million. They really want Barack to get it.

JK: Are a lot of European countries pushing for Obama?
Izzard: I think so. I'm not sure about the right wing. Definitely in the Labor Party, as well as the Democratic center, center-left, I think they're all for him. It will be so good for America. I think he'll be good for Americans in America, and around the world, I think it will be a good thing. A black man getting in ... and his father's Kenyan, I believe? You know, that just, it was like the Pope...I thought the Pope was going to be an African bishop, but they didn't (pick him), and it as extreme (a seletion) as I thought he was going to be. But just... a black Pope, that would've been a great signal to the world. And a black president in America will be fantastic, if he gets it.

JK: Why do you think other countries know of American politics, but not vice versa?
Izzard: Because you've got the big empire. It's like everyone says of in New York, everyone says "Oh, (it's a) New York kind of thing, and New York doesn't care about anyone." New York doesn't even notice anyone giving a damn about them. Same with London. All the other big cities. They say, "oh you're from London, oh it's a London attitude". London doesn't actually give a damn, because it's London. It's running the whole thing. And it's that kind of mentality.

And America is a huge place; I've played 34 cities (in it). You have this huge amount of land. And each human being, I think, has a pretty standard imagination. Like the imagination for Europeans, there's no real difference in the imaginations of American. But when we look outside our smaller geographical countries, we're immediately, as soon as we go on holiday, we're immediately in France; they speak a diiferent language, you have a. different way to get your food, and all sorts of things. And the televisions have got lots of people speaking French on it. So we immediately think, "Oh there are other people." And we're really close to them (geographically). So we all have a world view.

One of the brilliant things about (England) losing the empire is that we all had to start looking into each other, and we now have the European Union, which I'm very positive about. But we do know about others. And in America, most Americans really don't leave. They really don't need to know about others). Other people maybe get in our way or stop us. The whole idea of saying, like Bush says, that (others are) jealous of our freedom, they don't like our freedom. It's a mean thing to say, but I'm sure some people fall into that.

JK: Do you think Americans need a better world view than they have now?
Izzard: Oh yeah. Yes. Everyone needs a good world view, to put everything into context. And it would be great if America does. But I think a lot of Americans do have that. I'm looking at the CNN list of the red states and the blue states -- which are bizarrely confusing to all British people, because your colors are exactly switched over from our colors. Blue is the conservatives and the right wing, and Labor is the left wing -- So looking at the colors, they're flipping.

But you know, it tends to be geographically bound, the middle of the country. And the middle of the country is surrounded by America on all sides. Loads of space before they get to cities. So they have, understandably, a more insular view. But, yeah, a world view, it's necessary. There's outsourcing, there's globalization... And the globalization of business and finance, that's one thing that's impacted in a negative way. So the globalization of patience has got to be positive. I can't see the downside to people being able to talk to people based hugely around the world, people hoping to be getting computers and developing programs so that they can look at things from all around the world. That's gonna be great. So a world view is very necessary. This is the 3rd millennium. We gotta get it right this millennium, or there won't be any more milleniums.

JK: How do your politics match up with Kucinich's? You've talked about smaller government units doing the governing, and Kucinich is very much on the other side of that. Does it matter?
Izzard: No, it doesn't...I don't think any one's (politics) do if you really think about it. No one can absolutely match. There's going to be some positions where you're different from me, and maybe more or less, or something of mine might be more or less. You know, he, and unless you're looking at it and trying to ask me questions when we do these interviews -- and I'm going to interview him like it's a chat show, which is something I've always wanted to do -- and he was pro-life. I told him that, at the beginning (of our friendship) that I was pro-choice. And he comes from a Catholic background. But I was always pro-choice. And I don't have the background) to get to that (stance) because I come from no religious sort of background.

But yeah, that doesn't matter. I'm actually supporting someone who's a fighter and an outsider, and someone who also knows where Transnistria is. And someone who knows where Transnistria is needs to be supported. I'm the only one and he's the only one who knows about it. It's Moldova. The Dniester is a river and it's on the eastern side of Moldova, and it's full of Russian people. And it's kind of very lawless. The Russian soldiers are there. And he knew about it, and I knew about it. And he'd been there for God's sakes.

JK: So that's a good bond between the two of you?
Izzard: Yes. Because we're both taking global views of how everything's impacting everything. And he's been out there. And I'm doing my gig to the French. So for that reason, I thought I'd put a bit of support in.

If people want to come to this thing, I should say, they go to Kucinich.us or eddieizzard.com and they can buy a ticket from there for the interview, and then there's a meal afterwards. And depending on what ticket you buy, the money goes into his campaign.

JK: Real quick about The Riches, how did you feel about the show's cancellation?

Izzard: Oh, there was unfinished business. We want to do a film about it. We want to do a film to continue it on.

JK: Is it in the works?
Izzard: Yeah, that's in the works in my head. We're already working on the script for it. Because I met Samuel L. Jackson in a lift, or an elevator, as you say, in London. And he was going, "So what happens with your kids...they gonna be ok, you continuing, what's going on?" So I thought, well, if Samuel L. Jackson wants to know what's going on, we have to do a film. So we're going to pick up...the plan is to pick up exactly where we left off, and we think we're going to make a film of the next bit.

JK: A theatrical film?
Izzard: Yeah. It's the perfect time to do it. You know, with the Internet exploding, with all the finances going through the roof, we've got passionate fans. We had great reviews, and passionate fans all over the world, including in lifts in London, with seeing Samuel L. Jackson. But we didn't have the right number of them. So that's what happened. And how you test with these Nielsen boxes, it's antiquated. It's 1950's technology, and we're doing stuff that is different. People are looking at it in different ways. So now's the time for us to grab it by the scruff of the neck and go off and make a film.

JK: I enjoyed the series, and was surprised to hear it got cancelled.
Izzard: Well, it was just, it was numbers. Numbers apparently stopped us, but passion keeps it going.

JK: And you're going to be on the stand-up tour or is that done?
Izzard:The American one is done. 34 cities. I think I've seen more of America than most Americans. But that was great. It was beautiful too. I went to places...I saw Kennedy Space Center, I saw where Apollo 11 took off. And also Civil War battlefields down near Nashville. I just really got a good slice of America. But I'm playing London for quite a bit, and that's going great. And then Valkyrie, with Tom Cruise, comes out later this yeah, and I'll be promoting that.

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Great interview, Joel. When it was announced that he would be interviewing Kucinich, it was a surprise....like, where did that come from!?! But his explaination makes sense now.
I am glad you asked about The Riches too. I think this is the first Eddie has mentioned much about what he wants to do concerning continuing or even finalizing the story. It was a shame that FX pulled it. I have no desire to watch any of their shows now. Again, thanks for the info!

November 02 2008 at 2:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Christine's comment

I love the interview too because it is the product of Joel's own work and not just copied from another page. I don't really like Izzard that much because he's so... uhm... let's say "undefined". I don't really get him because in his standups he stands there in drag which irritates me and then he has the tendency to start talking about one thing, then gets into extreme detail of something that is completely off topic (and I don't know anything about, like Opera or foreign languages) and then returns to what he was talking about before. Funny enough that's the way I talk about things too. I guess Izzard is way more educated than me and simly knows more than I. And his accent is too thick for me to understand all the (foreign language) details. Which is odd because when I watch Billy Conolly I can laugh my ass off and that guy's scottish accent is insane.

I guess Izzard really is too sophisticated for my intellect *shrug* He's like "Aida" or something like that to me. I just don't get it. Maybe somebody could point me to one of his shows that are funny on a blue collar level. I tried to watch two of his shows and turned them off after ten or fifteen minutes. I just didn't get it.

"The Riches" was a great show though. Not hard to understand that show at all as well as all the other "regular" TV and movie stuff he does.

I didn't know he was in Valkyrie. Not a good thing if you ask me. It speaks volumes that they have delayed that movie for over a year now because the climate for anything Tom Cruise wasn't right after that silly Scientology video. I simply can't understand why anyone would work with this guy. He filmed that movie here in germany and I honestly believe he feels like Stauffenberg about his role in Scientology and the world. He's the guy who wants to free us all of evil. "Let's clean this place up", you know...

I'm really afraid that Valkyrie could become a successful movie and show to the world that not all germans were evil during World War II. I'd rather stay in my role as the descendant of a murderous, brainless people than have Tom Cruise redeem us. Makes me sick to my stomach...

November 02 2008 at 6:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

It sounds like he is still in character. That's just about how Doug Rich sounds when he was bullshitting someone on the Riches. At least I'm not the only one who knows how screwed up Nielsen is.

November 02 2008 at 2:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

i completely love this man. hopefully he'll find a reason to come back to America for a tour again soon.

November 02 2008 at 2:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Joel Keller

Folks, my apologies if this is a bit of a rough draft; I wanted to get this up quickly in order to time it to the event Izzard was promoting. If you see anything, please use the "corrections" link above (that means you, too, StillBash).

November 02 2008 at 1:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Joel Keller's comment


Ok ok sorry I didn't mean to be an ass. Really :-)

You see "corrections" wasn't an option for me because I didn't get it at all. I only use "corrections" when I know the correction.

It wasn't like you wrote "2+2=5" but more "Blarg 5 / Soup" and I didn't really know the correction to that ;-)

November 02 2008 at 6:01 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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