COMEDY

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The Independent Culture
Eddie Izzard plays the Liverpool Empire (0151-709 1555) tonight; York Grand Opera House (01904 671 818) tomorrow; High Wycombe Swan (01494 512 000) Tue & Wed; Birmingham Hippodrome (0121- 622 7486) Thur to Sat

Not many comedians would open a world tour in Bexhill, but, there again, Eddie Izzard is not many comedians.

Whatever he does - whether it is resisting the blandishments of television producers or dressing up in women's clothes - he dares to be different. And it has paid off. Without ever having a regular TV vehicle, he has become the biggest live comedian this side of Victoria Wood. Recently, he has taken places as diverse as Reykjavik, Paris, Amsterdam, The Hague and New York by storm, and his video, Definite Article, is leaving the shops faster than hot cakes. Added to all this, he has a BBC2 arts documentary about his tour going out next month. There is no secret formula to his act - Izzard is far too endearingly haphazard to embrace anything so organised as a formula - just inspired, stream-of-consciousness outpourings. He has the almost unique ability to put a surrealistic spin on any given subject. Who else could dream up on the spot a whole five-minute segment about the idea of blue underpants being undercover agents in a white wash? "Blue underpants, you'll infiltrate the white wash," he improvises. "You're our best undercover clothing. We've done you some forged papers. You'll be disguised as a white handkerchief." He is modest about his talent: "I just go out and blether. I take a subject, pull it around and feel my way through it. It's this big, meandering train of thought - all hesitant and chatty."

Life presidency of the Ramblers' Association surely beckons.

EYE ON THE NEW

Lee Hurst is not just the dome-headed super-lad constantly taking the mickey out of David Gower on They Think It's All Over; he is also an accomplished stand-up St Albans Arena 16 Nov; Hastings White Rock Theatre 17 Nov. Further information: 0181-938 3733

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