Eddie Izzard planning plenty of Laughs in the Park

PUBLISHED: 12:15 20 September 2010 | UPDATED: 17:54 21 September 2010

Eddie Izzard

Eddie Izzard

© Gavin Evans 2008

AS the final countdown begins to Laughs in the Park later this week, Welwyn Hatfield Times reporter Ross Logan talks to comedian Eddie Izzard about the open air comedy festival taking place in St Albans.

"Music festivals happen all over Europe every summer, and that’s all cool, but comedy sort of happens as a poor relation to music."

Eddie Izzard

EDDIE Izzard has been back in the country a matter of hours when he calls the WHT.

He’s just returned from New York, following a stint on Broadway as lawyer Jack Lawson in David Mamet’s latest play, Race.

It tells the story of three attorneys, two white, one black, who are given the chance to defend a white man charged with a crime against a black woman.

For someone like me, who’s more familiar with seeing Izzard on stage dressed as a woman telling surreal stories about cats drilling for oil and misunderstandings between Darth Vader and canteen workers in the Death Star, it’s quite a change in tempo.

Eddie Izzard

Nevertheless, over the past decade Izzard’s stock as a serious actor has risen considerably, with a role in high profile Hollywood blockbuster Ocean’s Twelve, as well as a critically-acclaimed stage turn as Bri in A Day in the Death of Joe Egg.

Which leads me to ask if he’s started moving away from the bizarre, stream-of-consciousness comedy that first made his name.

His response is emphatic: “I wanted to be a dramatic actor in the first place, but I’m still keeping my hand in,” he says, before reeling off a list of huge venues he’s played in the past year as part of his last stand-up tour, Stripped. Point taken.

From Friday, Izzard will be sharing join billing with Dylan Moran and Reginald D Hunter for three nights at Laughs in the Park, the innovative new comedy festival taking place in Verulamium Park, St Albans.

Izzard is clearly excited about the prospect.

“It’s been a plan of mine and Mick Perrin’s [managing director of Just For Laughs] for some time.

“Music festivals happen all over Europe every summer, and that’s all cool, but comedy sort of happens as a poor relation to music.

“So we’re going to see out the summer and get outside. It’s going to fun.”

Of his own comedy stylings, Izzard – who no longer wears drag on stage – says: “If you get known a bit, you create your own bar, and you’ve got to keep raising it. You can’t just say ‘Pigs eh? Why don’t they rule the earth?’

“I’m quite historical, and I’m fascinated by humans and why they’re here. My shows have always had Romans, covenants, gardens, sex and trees. I’m trying to refine all my previous shows into one definitive show.

“I actually think Stripped was the best I’ve ever done. I’m always looking forward.”

So what can we expect from Laughs in the Park, which will feature the UK’s very first purpose-built outdoor comedy stage?

“Comedy. Al fresco. With lots of fireworks afterwards. The last hurrah of summer. It’s the Woodstock of St Albans.

“You’ll either have been there or you’ll have missed out.”

* Laughs in the Park takes place in Verulamium Park, St Albans, from Friday, September 24 to Sunday, September 26, with all three comedians playing each night.

Tickets cost from £35.


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