Eddie Izzard: Stripped, Lyric Theatre, London

At the after-show party of this year's Secret Policeman's Ball, Germaine Greer led the singing of headliner Eddie Izzard's praises, comparing his imagination to that of Peter Cook, even after his so-so performance. Two years before, at the same event, a comedian incredulously asked me how Izzard could get so worked up about flies, after another so-so performance in which Izzard deliberated on the mores of the insect world.

Questioning Izzard's relevance has been a fair game since the disappointing and, guess what, so-so 2003 Sexie tour. Stripped is, you will not be amazed to hear, also so-so. After being almost entirely responsible for bucking the trend of earnest 1980s political comedy, that achievement has come back to haunt him. Tonight he prefaces his tumbling thought processes (housed around a history of everything from dinosaurs to the Middle Ages and then jumping to Darwin and evolution) by murmuring about change: "It's the third millennium... we can go to the moon." He's warm towards Obama and pours cold water on conservatism, including a knowingly belated jibe at Thatcher, saying that he would "piss on her state funeral". These are radical statements for Izzard, but ones that his shtick could never live up to. He sounds like a man wanting to get serious, asking the right questions, but who has no hope of providing a clue to their answers.

As the show progresses through time, paying particular attention to the Bible, Izzard's lack of relevance grates for two reasons. First, comedy should do more than stretch the mouth muscles; it should be something felt in the stomach, so that it touches on the notion of change to which Izzard alludes. Second, Izzard's stand-up feels like it has been left to tick over since the Nineties and we are invited to pick up where we last left it five years ago, only to find it saying nothing new.

On the plus side, Izzard reigns as a king of vague comedy. As an offshoot to his discourse on the agrarian age, the comic muses on the possible existence of self-milking feral cows who would be followed by cats "like seagulls who follow boats". And he describes an unfortunate combatant in ancient Greece impaled on a spear, who can only advance by further skewering himself.

Often, however, the average premise of his routines either cannot be raised above that level by Izzard's whimsical embroidery or are overblown by it. It might not be so-so bad, but it's not so-so good either.



To 23 December (0870 040 0081)

Arts and Entertainment
Loading individual letters on to an original Heidelberg printing press
books
Arts and Entertainment
Shades of glory: Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend

Glastonbury Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend will perform with Paul Weller as their warm-up act

Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
The Queen (Kristin Scott Thomas) in The Audience
theatreReview: Stephen Daldry's direction is crisp in perfectly-timed revival
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

    'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

    In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
    VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

    How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

    Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
    They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

    Typefaces still matter in the digital age

    A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
    Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

    'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

    New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
    The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

    Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

    Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
    Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

    Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

    Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
    Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

    Crisp sales are in decline

    As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
    Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

    Ronald McDonald the muse

    A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
    13 best picnic blankets

    13 best picnic blankets

    Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
    Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

    Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

    Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
    Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

    Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

    Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
    General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
    General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

    On the margins

    From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
    Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

    'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

    Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
    Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

    Why patients must rely less on doctors

    Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'