Eddie Izzard

On this date in 1962, Edward John Izzard was born in Aden (which is now Yemen) to British parents. The family moved to Britain before Izzard's first birthday, and Izzard spent his childhood in Northern Ireland. After his mother's death in 1968, he and his brother attended boarding school in England. Izzard attended Sheffield University, but quit school to concentrate on comedy in 1981. After a few false starts as a sketch comic and a street performer, Izzard's stand-up performances began to gain critical acclaim in the early 1990s. Throughout much of his stand-up career, Izzard, who identifies as a transvestite, performed in women's clothing and makeup. In his 2008 show, "Stripped," he performed with a “blokey” look. He told The New York Times (March 16, 2008) that he didn't want to be in the “transvestite comedian” box any more. Izzard also works as an actor in Hollywood, notably starring in the FX show "The Riches" (2007-2008). In 2000, Izzard received two Emmys, one for writing and one for performing, for his stand-up special "Dress to Kill" (1999).

Izzard frequently pokes fun at religion in his routines, ranging from the uninspired hymn-singing in the Church of England to the bible and creationists. His religion-inspired comedy routines often feature such topics as God and Jesus hanging out in heaven and scientific information that ought to have been included in the bible. In his show "Circle," Izzard said, “So in the Christian faith, God created Adam in his own image, yeah, so that was good, but 65 million years before that, he created the dinosaurs using the image of his cousin Ted.” Izzard says that he was agnostic for many years, but is now an atheist. He told the audience in "Circle": "But then Jesus had to go down to Planet Earth and teach the word of the Lord to the dinosaurs. . . . 'Rrrah, llllih, laaaal,' says Jesus, trying to blend in.”

“I was warming the material up in New York, where one night, literally on stage, I realized I didn’t believe in God at all. . . . I just didn’t think there was anyone upstairs.”

—Eddie Izzard, The Times of London, Feb. 8, 2009

Compiled by Eleanor Wroblewski

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