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Edward John ?Eddie' Izzard (born February 7, 1962 in Yemen) is one of the leading stand-up comedians and actors of his generation. He expresses his comedy style in self-referential pantomime whimsical monologue and rambling. In addition to it, he is also known for his charity work.
Izzard was the youngest son of an English couple-Dorothy Ella, a nurse, and Harold John Izzard, an accountant. A year after his birth, Izzard's family traveled to Britain.
His influences are drawn from the works of Steve Martin, Monty Python, Richard Pryor, and the early Benny Hill. He began to toy with stand-up into the streets. He has been working as a street performer in Europe and the United States till 1990. In the beginning of 90s he eventually began gaining some degree of recognition and applause.
He always expresses his strong admiration for the late comedian Bill Hicks, and began making up as Billy Connolly's stand up routines when he was starting off his career.
Success as a comedian
Izzard got two British Comedy Awards in 1993 and 1996 for his stand-up work. In 1997 he produced a sitcom named Cows for an indigenous channel named ?Channel 4'. There was a live action comedy in the sitcom with actors dressing cow suits.
Izzard after completing successful tours in Britain took Definite Article to the metropolitans outside the UK as well. He brought it to the New York City also. Having gained enough recognition by performing in streets, he had his U.S. breakthrough not before 1999 when the American Television Channel HBO showed him on a program named Dress to kill. This program also contained a genre of live comedy. Eddie Izzard also worked in a movie named Mystery Men as a supporting actor during the same year. However, the show went on successfully and did a remarkable business bringing him two Emmy Awards in 2000. He was awarded for his performance and writing.
Izzard is more interested in doing stand-up theatres and rarely performs on silver screen. He says theaters use up content which is continually re-produced in front of audiences for relatively a long period of time. However, on the other hand, this is not the case with television for it demands content at quite higher rate.
A Versatile Actor
In 2005, Izzard gave the voiceover in his rambling style for a series if television advertisements. This series was meant to promote recycling in Britain. In January 2006, the U.S. television network FX produced a new drama series named ?The Riches', co-written by Izzard. British actress Minnie Driver and Izzard starred as a married couple. This series led to some speculations that the character of the youngest son-Sam- shown was based upon Izzard's experiences. This particular character was given transvestite tendencies. However Izzard stated in his several interviews that he only added his perspective to the character to keep it alive.
In terms of the delivery of a stream-of-consciousness style, Izzard's seems to be influenced by Monty. He toys with new joke ideas and the characters he portrays turn out to be other characters. This generally results in short pauses in the practice which he fills with ?Yeah, So and other spoken tics that have now become his trademarks. Mimicry and mime are amongst his comic talents. He imitates activities such as vacuuming, sawing wood and mowing the lawn with accents and personalities.
In 2008, Izzard began to use Wikipaedia itself as part of his comic act, reading from live copies of the articles and mocking Wikipaedia's self-referential content. Although much of his stand-ups deal with sensitive issues, it is not mean-spirited or rude by and large. Instead, he brings into light the creative possibilities and innovative potential through absurd situations.
Campaigning & Achievements
Izzard is also known as a pro-European Union campaigner favoring the further integration of the UK. He was the first person to spend a euro in London. He described himself as a British-Europeon on BBC's debate show called ?Question Time' in 2005. As part of his campaign, he regularly performs in other languages as well in addition to English.
In July 2003, University of East Anglia, England awarded him with an honorary Doctor of Letters for Pro-Europe campaigning. He received an honorary doctorate in Letters from the Faculty of Arts at the University of Sheffield in 2006 also.
In a 2007 poll to find the 100 Greatest Comedians, Izzard was ranked as number 3 as part of Channel 4's ongoing 100 Greatest... series.