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Eddie Izzard, Lesbian Trapped In The Body Of A Man

Today’s Quiz:

Name a Yemen-born, dyslexic, exceedingly funny, British comic who (convincingly) describes himself as a “male lesbian” or, alternately, “a lesbian trapped in a man’s body?”

Need another clue?

He also (again, convincingly) describes himself as an “executive transvestite.”

If your answer is “Eddie Izzard,” you may be excused for the rest of the day; the primary purpose of this post is to introduce the uninitiated to Mr. Izzard. The number of folks who are completely unaware of Mr. Izzard is unaccountably large, especially given that he has performed his standup shows around the world during the past decade, has been on TV and on the stage, has appeared in movies (Ocean’s Twelve, Ocean’s Eleven, The Avengers, My Super Ex-Girlfriend, and others), has starred in and won two Emmy Awards for his own HBO special, Dress to Kill, and is, one must admit, rather conspicuous.

This post does include recent updates on his acting career so even if you already know about Eddie, you may want to hang around, but if you do, please don’t ruin things for newcomers by shouting out the answers.

If you couldn’t come up with even one Yemen-born, dyslexic, funny, cross-dressing British comic,1 gather round. You have a treat coming.

Eddie Izzard and Cross-Dressing

While Eddie Izzard is certainly more comfortable in female accoutrements than your average guy, the somewhat disappointing fact is that sex, perversion, kink, and novelty together comprise, by my calculations, approximately 3% of his appeal. The rest originates from above his neck rather than below his belt.

But, just to get it out of the way, Eddie (and this doesn’t seem at all fair) is a handsome man of masculine appearance, who, as it happens, can look quite fetching in full female regalia. Izzard claims that he is heterosexual, which is hardly surprising; Eddie and clinical studies are in agreement that, as Eddie phrases it, “Most transvestites fancy girls.”

The Other 97% Of Eddie’s Appeal

I do have a problem with Mr. Izzard’s cross-dressing.

It’s a too easily available label by which the intellectually slothful (that would be me) and those tempted by histrionic headlines (me again) to identify Eddie Izzard,2 and, in doing so, assign him to a category that is more distracting than revealing – as in “Eddie Izzard. You know, the guy who does his comedy show wearing women’s clothes, No, no, no, he’s not a drag queen. He just does his stand-up routine in a dress or sometimes a nice pantsuit. He has an English accent. Says he likes girls – and girls’ clothes. You know who I mean.”

This problem is exacerbated by the difficulty of describing Eddie’s comedy. I’ve revised this section a dozen times because nothing I’ve written even gives me a clue about his humor — and I already know how funny he is; what are the chances of conveying that concept to someone else? Lord knows I tried. For example, “Well, one of his famous bits is about the Church of England being less punitive than the Roman Catholics so instead of the Spanish Inquisition, the Anglicans threaten heretics with “Cake or Death.” Everyone, of course, selects “cake.” See how funny that is?” (The “Cake or Death” bit is quoted at some length and, one hopes, to greater effect later on.)

Perhaps, however, I can provide an overview.

Hmmm. How to put it? How about this: Eddie Izzard is cleverness personified.

He is sufficiently quick-witted and intelligent to be capable of tying together the latest US governmental goofiness, Greek, Roman, and Norse mythology, contemporary theology, the learning processes of cavemen, British sexual and social mores, the discoveries of Pavlov, Heimlich, and other scientific and clinical folks, and the contrast between the European and American perspectives of history into one continuous, cogent, and comic monologue, interrupted sporadically by Eddie humming or muttering “ummm,” “so … yeah,” and other filler syllables to himself while he sets up his next conversational foray, organically building the entire interchange with the audience (he has the uncanny ability to evoke a conversational sense, even when one is viewing his act on TV) to lead into to an altogether gratifying conclusion at the end of the show.

He adamantly and consistently denies that any of his stand-up performances are scripted, and multiple reviews indicate that no two performances are identical. He also makes a show of pretending to write notes about the audience’s reaction to his lines, especially if the response is bland (e.g., “Never, ever compare Jesus and motorcycles again.”)

He is an inspired role player, and takes on recurring characters such as God, Greeks hiding in the Trojan Horse, Christopher Walken, and, on occasion, a badger armed with a gun.

His act also benefits from his expertise in the field of (and there must be a more elegant term for this) funny sounds, including but definitely not limited to sawing, bees buzzing, dentists’ drills drilling, horses and zebras galloping, raspberries (of the Bronx cheer variety), and, of course, explosions caused by inflatable breasts at high altitudes, thunderbolts hitting medicine cabinets, people, buttocks, and pilot fish.

He is sardonic without being mean-spirited and, most importantly, understands his audience, himself, and the relationship that connects him and the ticket-holders.

Favorite Izzard Lines

Guns don’t kill people, people kill people, and monkeys do too (if they have a gun).

I grew up in Europe, where the history comes from.

Pol Pot killed one point seven million Cambodians, died under house arrest, well done there. Stalin killed many millions, died in his bed, aged seventy-two, well done indeed. And the reason we let them get away with it is they killed their own people. And we’re sort of fine with that. Hitler killed people next door. Oh, stupid man. After a couple of years we won’t stand for that, will we?

We have two hundred languages in Europe. Two hundred languages! Count them! I know you won’t!

Squirrels always eat nuts with two hands, always two hands, “arararar”, and occasionally, they stop and go, oh, uh, ah, as if they’re going, “Did I leave the gas on? No! I’m, no I’m a f**king squirrel!” And occasionally they go, “F**king nuts! Fed up with them always. I long for a grapefruit.”

I like my coffee like I like my women…in a plastic cup.

There’s no Church of England fundamentalism. We can’t have Church of England fundamentalism. You know like they have Islamic fundamentalism. Jihad! …Ah ha… Church of England fundamentalism is impossible because you can’t have: “You must have tea and cake with the vicar or you die!” Tea and cake or death! Students with beards, “Tea and cake or death! Tea and cake or death! Little Red Cookbook! Little Red Cookbook!” Ca – you know, ’cause, “Cake or death?” That’s a pretty easy question. Everybody – anyone could answer that. “Cake or death?” “Uhh, cake please.” “Very well! Give him cake!” “Oh, thanks very much. It’s very nice!” “You! Cake or death?” “Uh, cake for me, too, please!” “Very well! Give him cake, too! We’re gonna run out of cake at this rate. You! Cake or death?” “Uh, death, please. No, cake! Cake! Cake, sorry. Sorry…” “You said death first, ah-ha, ah-ha, death first!” “Well I meant cake!” “Oh, all right. You’re lucky I’m Church of England! Cake or death?” “Uh, cake please.” “Well, we’re out of cake! We only had three bits and we didn’t expect such a rush! So what’ll it be?” “What, so my choice is ‘or death?’ Well, then I’ll have the chicken, please.””

What? … the Carthaginians are attacking? God, I knew they’d do that. What? … They are attacking over the Alps? Damn, I knew they’d do that. What? … They’re coming on Elephants? … Where’d they get the Elephants? There aren’t any Elephants in Europe. This I got to see… Are you sure? … its not just a typo mistake? Perhaps, The Carthaginians are attacking over the alps and they are in their element? Kind of upbeat you know. They’re coming on fucking elephants, huh.”

Most Recently

Eddie Izzard and Minnie Driver have been signed for the lead roles in Lowlife, a new TV series produced by the creators of Nip/Tuck. They play a husband and wife who are con-artists traveling through America. FX Networks president John Landgraf describes the marriage as “very complicated.”

Izzard has also signed on to play a villainous sort on season six of Fox TV’s “24.”

Videos

Embedded video players, preloaded with the clips indicated below, can be found on a single web page at Media: A Lesbian Trapped In A Man’s Body

Links to the videos are provided below; clicking on them will take you to Youtube or Google Video where the clips are available.

Links

Eddie Izzard – Youtube1

Eddie Izzard -Definite Article

Eddie Izzard – Death Star Canteen

Eddie Izzard – Being Bilingual

There is a lot-o-Eddie on YouTube. Try this search
Eddie On YouTube


  1. If your answer was something other than “Eddie Izzard” or “I dunno,” do email me; I certainly want to keep my listings of Yemen-born, dyslexic, funny, cross-dressing British comics complete. []
  2. My excuses for taking the easy way out are that (1) clearly, Mr. Izzard uses the transvestism as part of his schtick and if it’s good enough for Eddie, it’s good enough for me and (2) hey, I’ve got deadlines too, ya know. []

Who’s Afraid Of A Black Hat?

If You Liked This is Spinal Tap, …1

You may well get off on Fear of a Black Hat,2 a relatively unnoticed3 gem of a movie that is cast in the mockumentary format popularized4 by This is Spinal Tap5 to satirize, in this case, hip-hop/gangsta rap.

The Quick Flick Pick Summary: Fear of a Black Hat

  • A bawdy, riotously irreverent, over the top, profane parody that addresses the full range of rap music content: the taking and selling of drugs, violence, murder, sexual excesses, racism, hatred of the police, theft, … and, as a bonus, skewers pretentious film-making6 and even more pretentious cultural studies.
  • … Except for the last 15 minutes. The only logical explanation for the rambling footage of this final quarter-hour is that the budget was exhausted and the film crew dismissed before the editing was completed so the only remaining staffer, an unpaid intern, spliced together whatever leftover film sequences he could find on the editing room floor, tacked it on the end, added a “That’s All Foks” template, and made it back to his middle school in time for marching band practice.
  • The greater your knowledge of rap groups of the 90′s, the more parodied elements you will recognize, which is one of the gratifications of watching a satire. But, if you are were born before, say, 1980 and lived somewhere other than Vostok Station, Antarctica or my home town during the 90′s, you have inadvertently absorbed enough pertinent information to enjoy the movie.7

The plot follows the adventures of NWH (Niggaz With Hats),8 a rap group populated by Ice Cold (the vulgar, verbose leader), Tasty-Taste (the designated gangster wannabe with a fully stocked armory in the basement of his home in a white, upper-class neighborhood), and Tone Def (the DJ whose talents include spouting convoluted, mystic philosophy and scratching turntables with his genitalia).9

A particularly nice touch is the premise that the documentary is being produced by a graduate student in sociology, Nina Blackburn, as her doctoral dissertation on the rap musical culture. Consquently, it makes sense that Nina earnestly extracts from the group members their interpretation of the rap ethos and laboriously performs deep textual analysis of lyrics to songs such as “Grab Yo Shit,” “Fuck The Security Guard,” “Booty Juice,” and ” Come And Pet the P.U.S.S.Y.” Pseudo-profundities abound as sociologic rationales are voiced in street vernacular to explain that a song such as “Booty Juice,” featuring NWH surrounded by nearly naked girls around a southern California pool, a setting familiar to anyone who has watched music videos, is not, as the naïve might believe, an exploitation of feminine sexuality but is instead a cultural metaphor that poetically explores interpersonal and inter-sexual conflicts – or, as Ice Cold, phrases it, “The butt is like society. It has to open up.” He goes on to explain that the afore mentioned hit, “Come And Pet The P.U.S.S.Y.,” is culturally coded thusly: “P – Political, U – Unrest, S – Stabilize, S – Society, Y – Yeah.”

My own misgivings about the comic potential of the content of Fear of a Black Hat quickly dissipated with the film’s opening frames, prior to the plot or even any characters being introduced, which warn the audience that the movie contains language that may be offensive10 and then goes on to unctuously explain that such terms will not be used gratuitously but only to evoke the reality of life in a rap group. This sanctimoniously delivered combination of caveat and self-aggrandizing claptrap is followed by the narrator repeating each of these offensive expressions – several times. For good measure, each of the terms is also displayed on the screen. Very sly, very vulgar, very funny.

Excerpts

Nina Blackburn: What, if any, is the difference between a ho and a bitch?
Tone Def: A ho fucks EVERYBODY.
Ice Cold: Right, but a bitch fucks everybody BUT YOU.

_______________

Nina Blackburn: They say it’s the quiet ones that you have to watch out for.
Tasty Taste: And, if you’ve noticed, I ain’t said shit for a couple minutes now.

_______________

Tasty-Taste: “We are anti-violent. Anyone who says different, I am going to bust a cap in your ass!”

_______________

Nina Blackburn: So, what’s the deal about the hats?
Ice Cold: Shit, the hats’re what it’s all about. See, back when we was still slaves, the white man made the black man work in the fields.
Tone Def: Word. Heads totally exposed to the sun.
Ice Cold: So when the slaves got back from the fields, they was too tired to fight the white man. So what we’re sayin’ now is: Yo, we got some hats now muh-fuckas.
Tasty Taste: And we ain’t too tired to bust a cap in yo’ ass.

_______________

Nina Blackburn: Your new album is “NWH: Fear of a Black Hat.”
Ice Cold: Right. But see, actually that shit was suppose to be “NWH: Fear of a Black Hat,” subtitled “Don’t Shoot ‘Til You See The Whites.”
Nina Blackburn: Of their eyes?
Ice Cold: Whose eyes?
Nina Blackburn: Don’t shoot until you see the whites of their eyes.
Ice Cold: No, no, no! Don’t shoot until you see the whites. Period. That’s it. End of story. You know what I’m saying? But the record company, they dogged us out. They wouldn’t let us put it on it.
Tasty Taste: Yeah. We should have busted a cap in their ass.
Tone Def: They’re always trying to censor our shit.
Nina Blackburn: For instance, with the song “Kill Whitey.”
Ice Cold: That shit was a whole big misunderstanding. They took the whole thing out of context.
Tone Def: They were trying to say we were advocating killing white people and shit.
Tasty Taste: Yeah! Do I look like the type of nigga that could kill a whole buncha white mutha fuckas? I mean, you know, if provoked, but not on a humbug.”
Nina Blackburn: Well, in the song lyrics I’m quoting: “He’ll rip you off. He’ll take your money, make you work for free. Though you may scoff. It isn’t funny. He’s the devil, see. Kill Whitey.”
Ice Cold: Right. Now how can you listen to that and think we’re talking about killing all white people?
Tone Def: Fact. We were talking about one specific whitey. Whitey Deluca our ex-manager.
Tasty Taste: He ripped us off for 70 g’s.
Ice Cold: That’s right. And Whitey Deluca wasn’t even white. He was Italian. He was one of those olive complexion MFs you know.
Nina Blackburn: If I remember correctly, he ended up murdered?
Ice Cold: We wasn’t in town when that shit happened.
Tone Def: Wait a minute, we were here.
Ice Cold: No, no, no. We were in Cleveland like a “mo fo” remember?
Tone Def: Oh, yeah.

The Final Line

It’s subversive, it’s obscene, it’s great fun.

Video Samples From Fear of a Black Hat

Fear Of A Black Hat – Don’t Shoot Until You See The Whites

Fear Of A Black Hat – Ice Froggiy iFrog

  1. This is another entry in my continuing series of movies that, for one reason or another, were overlooked when they were in the theaters but which meet my idiosyncratic criteria to rate a B+ or better ranking. Operationally, a B+ movie, especially one produced a decade or so ago, isn’t a can’t-wait-to-see-it sort of event, but it is an odds-on bet to provide solid entertainment during, say, a cold, rainy Chicago weekend. My review is designed to provide enough information and a sufficient sense of the flick to allow the reader to determine if it’s worth a Netflix selection. []
  2. The movie’s name, I assume, derives from the Fear of a Black Planet album by Public Enemy []
  3. Fear of a Black Hat, which hit the theaters in 1994, grossed, according to imdb.com, only $238,000 on a budget of $999,999.99, a sum said to have been set to allow the film company to deny that they had cut a million dollar deal with the previously untried director, Rusty Cundieff. []
  4. This is Spinal Tap is frequently but erroneously credited for originating the mockumentary genre. While the identity of the prototype is obscured by technicalities and arbitrary definitions, my vote would be for Albert Brooks’ 1979 film, Real Life, in which he plays an aggressively narcissistic director who persuades a family to be filmed going about their day to day lives, paralleling the technique of the PBS series An American Family, except Brooks is openly manipulative, fine-tuning the family’s presentation to improve the film with predictably disastrous – and hilarious – results, which, come to think of it, makes Real Life a prescient spoof of today’s reality shows as well. []
  5. Upon hearing mention of Fear of a Black Hat – or bringing it up themselves – a white guy wearing a black turtleneck may identify himself as a paid-up member of the cinema cognoscenti by sneeringly referring to it as This is Spinal Rap, tragically failing to recognize that this comment was modestly clever for precisely twelve minutes the first time it made the rounds in 1994; the merciful response is bemused silence although a chuckle emitted sotto voice or an elegantly delivered bitch slap is certainly acceptable. []
  6. In addition to the mockumentary/documentary spoof, black filmmakers Spike Lee and John Singleton are parodied by the brief appearance of a character named “Jike Spingleton,” who is directing a flick called “New Mack Village,” starring Ice Cold. The short segment of “New Mack Village” displayed mimics the opening scenes of New Jack City down to details such as Ice Cold wearing the same black hat that Ice-T wore in the actual film. []
  7. If you’re unsure that you possess the requisite Rapological expertise, take this test: Could you distinguish between Snoop Dogg and Vanilla Ice if they were, however unaccountably, standing within six feet of you? If so, you pass. For extra credit: With which musical phrase do you associate M.C. Hammer: (a) “If I had a hammer” or (b) “Can’t touch this?” If you guessed (b), you’ve got the straight-up boo-yaa knowledge, fo shizzle. []
  8. The group’s name is a parody of “NWA,” (Niggaz With Attitude) []
  9. Figuring out correlations between NWH members and real life rappers of the era is a pleasant, albeit not essential, pastime. Minor characters include a white singer called “Vanilla Sherbet,” a flash in the pan named “M.C. Slammer” who is trying for a comeback, and “Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme,” an all-girl group whose byword is “We have four spices.” []
  10. The subjunctive is misleading; the language is certainly and exceedingly offensive; this is not a family night video unless your mother is a lot different from my mom. []

Gloriosky Road


(…) it was agreed, that my endeavors should be directed to persons and characters supernatural, or at least romantic, yet so as to transfer from our inward nature a human interest and a semblance of truth sufficient to procure for these shadows of imagination that willing suspension of disbelief for the moment, which constitutes poetic faith.1

From Biographia Literaria
Samuel Taylor Coleridge

I finally watched Glory Road last night. It is notable (so please note it) that I actually saw this movie the same year that it was released, which, for me, is the moral equivalent to being on hand for opening night. As they say,

If it isn’t on videodisk,
It … er, hmm … it might as well be lutefisk.

Plot Synopsis

The movie is based on a true story – retold with a massive amount of poetic license.

Don Haskins goes from coaching high school girls basketball to being in charge of the basketball team at Texas Western. Desperate to create a competing team, he manages to convince seven black players, mostly city kids, to play for him in El Paso. The movie focuses on the molding of the team and on the racial conflicts they encountered. The big payoff is the Miners of Texas Western playing Adolph Rupp’s Kentucky basketball machine for the 1966 NCAA championship and, against overwhelming odds, triumphing.

The Quickie2 Review & Recommendation

  • If you demand that your historical facts be handled in a straightforward, balanced manner
  • If you are appalled by the manipulative use of any media
  • If you like your basketball realistic and stripped to fundamentals
  • If you want a realistic slice of life that paints an accurate picture of race relations in the USA of the 1960s

Then, you might as well use your Netflix selection for something other than Glory Road.

On the other hand,

  • If you can suspend your cynicism if not your disbelief
  • If you need a charge of feel-good
  • If you would benefit from being reminded that things have changed for the better in this country’s race relations over the past 40 years (even though it’s taken too long and it hasn’t changed enough)
  • If you might get excited by an evocation of the drama of basketball without sweating the details

Then, Glory Road might be just what the DrHGuy ordered.

Glory Road is formulaic (think Hoosiers, Remember The Titans, Rudy), doesn’t miss a cliché (and may have created one or two), and plays fast and loose with historical facts, the rules of basketball, and, occasionally, physics. It also features strong acting, a compelling story (albeit not a historical reenactment), a bit of humor, and, most of all, drama & excitement.

As an added attraction, Glory Road possesses certain positive-deficits; by virtue of its time setting, this is a sports movie that does not subject viewers to a crowd doing “The Wave” or a background rendition of “We Are The Champions.”


  1. The Coleridge quotation is altogether pertinent to this post. I do admit, however, that I relish the juxtaposition of the slam dunk scene from the movie and STC’s famous suspension of disbelief dictum []
  2. “Quickie” here is in reference to DrHGuy prolixity standards []