University of Southern California

USC Student Affairs and Campus Life

Comedian Eddie Izzard Makes History with USC Spectrum

By Nathan Carter Friday, October 12, 2012

British comedian Eddie Izzard gives a lesson in laughter.Photo by Nathan CarterBritish comedian Eddie Izzard gives a lesson in laughter.

On Friday, October 5, USC students got a history lesson from British comedian Eddie Izzard, who gave a surreal account of civilization from the Big Bang to the moon landing.

“What makes Izzard really fascinating is his sheer intelligence, his sheer knowledge about world history, that he can bring into his comedy,” said Dane Martens, director of USC Spectrum, which hosts the Student Affairs arts and lectures program that brought the comedian to campus.

Izzard, who performed to a packed crowd in Bovard Auditorium, jumped stream-of-consciousness style from the Crusades and British tin mining to Greek mythology and Wikipedia. His jokes often took the form of imaginary dialogues, and his characters ranged from God to Buzz Aldrin to a diary-keeping giant squid. Izzard hurried around the stage as if playing every part in a skit.

In Izzard’s account, the Stone Age began with a little clumsiness: on his way to kill a mastodon in the tar pits, a young man tripped over a rock.

“If it’s bad for my foot, it could be bad for others’ feet — and their heads,” Izzard said. “This could be the beginning of an age!”

Tina Crnko, a freshman double majoring in theatre and business administration appreciated that Izzard “really enjoys what he’s doing: he’s laughing along with the audience.”

Izzard, who has appeared in such films as 2004′s Ocean’s Twelve, 2007′s Across the Universe and 2008′s Valkyrie, recently sold out the 18,000-seat Hollywood Bowl as the venue’s first solo comedy act. This fall, he specifically reached out to college campuses for smaller shows.

“I really wanted to give USC the opportunity to see him like this,” Martens said. “Twelve hundred seats as opposed to 18,000 is pretty intimate.”

The event was also promoted by the USC LGBT Resource Center for October’s National Coming Out Month. Izzard, who dresses in women’s clothing for many of his performances and describes himself as an “executive transvestite,” sported brightly painted fingernails that evening.

USC Spectrum’s fall season continues with a screening of the documentary Decoding Deepak and a question-and-answer session with its director on October 21 and an evening with activist and journalist Nicholas Kristof on November 5. Visit usc.edu/spectrum for more information.

“College life is all about balance, so it’s nice having this after going to classes and studying all day,” said Cole Manaster, a freshman business administration major. “I’m looking forward to seeing more of the arts that we have here on campus and in LA.”

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