Prior to his Saturday-night Force Majeure concert at the Byham, the only Izzard performances I'd seen were a few online videos and a small film role or two.
Today, count me a fan. As Lissa Brennan emphasized in her interview with the British comic for CP, Izzard is singular; "comic" seems hardly an adequate label for a performer who — in his first visit to Pittsburgh since 2008 — kept a packed theater in stitches with a show whose running gag explores the logic behind human sacrifice; whose best extended bit was a long riff on the English Civil Wars; and who is also silly enough to work in chicken noises and an imitation of a mole.
Izzard's big cult following was out in force Saturday (and for a Sunday show that was also sold out or next to it); some of Saturday's crowd gave him a standing ovation for just walking out on stage. Wearing a smart suit, stacked-heel pumps, savage red fingernails and glittery earrings, the self-styled "action transvestite" delivered. He's one of the few comedians who assumes enough intelligence on the part of his audience to bring them up to his considerable level, but he also never ceases to entertain.
For crying out loud, he did a Martin Luther gag — in German.
The second act of the two-hour show wasn't quite up to the level of manic invention of the first. (And it seemed to include some in-jokes for long-time fans that went over my head.) But I doubt too many folks walked away disappointed.