Eddie Izzard's Yemen connection
Most people know that Eddie Izzard is perhaps the world’s most famous Transvestite Comedian (even without much makeup, as my Sunday Arts & Books profile reveals) but very few know is that he’s also arguably the most famous Yemeni Comedian. (His only competition, at least in the west, is Fahd Al-Qarani, who gained notoriety when he was jailed for a comedy sketch that mocked Yemen’s president, Ali Abdullah Saleh).
Izzard is indeed a British subject, but on his UK passport his birthplace reads: Aden, Yemen — a seaport town near the Red Sea where Izzard’s father and mother met. He lived there only until he was 12 months old, but given Izzard’s passion for history, he’s well aware of what’s been goingon there since his family left for Great Britain: “Yemen is a big deal for me…I’ve never really articulated that before, but it made it all happen.”
Izzard went back to Aden for the first time two years ago. The visit, as well as old family pictures (some of which he showed me on his iPhone during our interview) and films of the Izzard family in Yemen can been seen on Saturday night as part of the documentary “Believe: The Eddie Izzard Story,” which airs at 10:30 pm on the recently launched EPIX Cable Movie Channel. Izzard -- sans makeup, pearls and heels -- can be seen at the Nokia Theatre this week.
--James C. Taylor
Above: Izzard at Madison Square Garden in New York. Photo credit: Jennifer S. Altman/For The Times