Comedian Eddie Izzard skips PA marathon after pushback from organizers

Comic wows Tel Aviv in standup performance, laments those who didn't want him to run.

March 31, 2017 20:12
3 minute read.
British comedian Eddie Izzard.

British comedian Eddie Izzard. . (photo credit: REUTERS)

British comedian Eddie Izzard had two main goals for his trip to Israel this weekend: first, to perform his stand-up show at a stadium in Tel Aviv on Thursday night, and then to run in the Palestine Marathon in Bethlehem on Friday.

Well, Izzard wowed the crowd at the Shlomo Group Arena with his one-of-a-kind show. But he ended up skipping the marathon after the organizers threatened him with an ultimatum.

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“We refuse to be used as a fig leaf to cover up Izzard’s whitewashing of Israel’s occupation and apartheid,” the organizers posted on Twitter. “British comedian Eddie Izzard cannot run for freedom this Friday if he entertains in Tel Aviv on Thursday,” they added.

Izzard, who was born in Yemen, is known for running marathons around the world; the 55-year-old even ran 27 marathons in 27 days in South Africa last year.

Izzard told The Jerusalem Post in a statement that he wanted to do both the show and the marathon “as there are many different feelings on this subject and that if I was trying to be balanced, I should do something in Israel and something in the occupied Palestinian territories as well.”

“I have now performed my show in Tel Aviv, but even though the Palestinian Authority is allowing me to run in the Palestine Marathon, others do not want me to run. All I wanted to do was to try and bring a little extra focus to the Palestine Marathon and to the situation there. But if they would rather I didn’t, I’m fine with that,” the comedian added.

While Izzard only accomplished half his plan for the region, the show must go on, and Izzard entertained thousands of fans Thursday night. The flamboyant, colorful performer took the stage in a full face of makeup but a reserved suit. He referred to himself alternately as transvestite and transgender throughout the show – “I was told Tel Aviv was okay with that,” he said to raucous applause.

From the moment Izzard opened his mouth, there was no denying who was on stage – not just because of the comic’s unique voice, but also his inimitable, unparalleled style. He took the audience on a rambling, utterly absurd romp through history, discussing everything from human sacrifice to the English Civil War, the Roman Empire and anything else in between.

Izzard is known for his litany of imagined conversations in voices, accents and even other languages; indeed, there was plenty of German and French thrown in for effect.

After a sketch about Martin Luther nailing his 95 theses to the wall of a church in Germany, he turned to the crowd and said: “Well done Tel Aviv, definitely your first comedy bit in German.”

Izzard touched plenty on religion, calling himself a “spiritual atheist,” noting that he believes in humanity but not in “the floaty man.” But that didn’t stop him from imagining the conversations going on in heaven from a God peeking down at the world: “Bit of a shit storm happening here – who’s this Donald Trump f**ker?” Though the comic focused more on historical events, he couldn’t help touching on current matters, referencing several times the “hate” of both Brexit and Trump’s election. But those weren’t the only countries in trouble in “God’s” mind: “North Korea is a country run by a teenager who ate a balloon.”

In a ramble about democracy in Europe in the 13th century, he turned to the crowd and said: “Humanity can go backward is my point and 2016 proved that to the world.”

The audience heartily approved.

Tel Aviv was just one stop on his long-winding Force Majeure Reloaded tour around the world – he’s off to Poland, Bulgaria and Ukraine next week.

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