Friday, June 30, 2017

*Review* Believe Me by Eddie Izzard

Genre: Memoir
Published: June 13, 2017
Pages: 400


Critically acclaimed, award-winning British comedian and actor Eddie Izzard details his childhood, his first performances on the streets of London, his ascent to worldwide success on stage and screen, and his comedy shows which have won over audiences around the world.

Over the course of a thirty-year career, Eddie Izzard has proven himself to be a creative chameleon, inhabiting the stage and film and television screen with an unbelievable fervor. Born in Yemen, and raised in Ireland, Wales and post-war England, he lost his mother at the age of six. In his teens, he dropped out of university and took to the streets of London as part of a two-man escape act; when his partner went on vacation, Izzard kept busy by inventing a one-man act, and thus a career was ignited. As a stand-up comedian, Izzard has captivated audiences with his surreal, stream-of-consciousness comedy--lines such as "Cake or Death?" "Death Star Canteen," and "Do You Have a Flag?" have the status of great rock lyrics. As a self-proclaimed "Executive Transvestite," Izzard broke the mold performing in full make-up and heels, and has become as famous for his advocacy for LGBT rights as he has for his art. In Believe Me, he recounts the dizzying rise he made from street busking to London's West End, to Wembley Stadium and New York's Madison Square Garden. 

Still performing more than 100 shows a year--thus far in a record-breaking twenty-eight countries worldwide--Izzard is arguably one of today's top Kings of Comedy. With his brand of keenly intelligent humor, that ranges from world history to pop culture, politics and philosophy, he has built an extraordinary fan base that transcends age, gender, and race. Writing with the same candor and razor-sharp insight evident in his comedy, he reflects on a childhood marked by unutterable loss, sexuality and coming out, as well as a life in show business, politics, and philanthropy. Honest and generous, Izzard's Believe Me is an inspired account of a very singular life thus far.


I received a copy of this book through Penguin's First to Read program in exchange for an honest review. 

I guaranteed my copy of this book because I am a fan of Eddie Izzard's stand-up comedy so I jumped at the chance to get to read his memoir. It mostly didn't let me down. I do think that my experience with the book would have been improved by listening to the audiobook rather than reading the book. While I'm familiar with Izzard's comedy style, I think the humor would have been more effective delivered by him via audio. And I may splurge and buy the audiobook at some point to test this theory. 

While I fully understand the concept of a memoir, I have come to expect that memoirs by people I know as comedians will be funny, and Believe Me was not nearly as funny as I was expecting it to be (this may have been helped if I'd had the audiobook). However, this may be due in part to the fact that Izzard is not strictly a comedian. In fact, he apparently has a passion for drama, so I learned something new, which is always a good thing. 

The writing style in Believe Me is not like Izzard's comedy style, which is understandable after reading the book and learning how he builds his routines, but the tag-line kind of led me to believe that they'd be fairly similar (so Mr. Izzard, if you happen to read this, for Believe Me 2.0 could you add in some more jokey stuff like the jazz chickens?) And I probably really shouldn't complain about how serious the book ended up being, considering all of the events that shaped his childhood and young adult life. I just have this idea in my head of what he's like, and he basically just said "Ha! Fuck your ideas about me. You know nothing Jon Snow." He's not wrong, I basically knew nothing about him it turns out. So I found this book very enlightening and informative.

Overall I give Believe Me 4 out of 5 stars. - Katie 

Buy the Book

About the Author

Eddie Izzard is a world-renowned comedian, actor, writer, runner, and activist. He made his West End debut in 1993 in a one-man show called Live at the Ambassadors, for which he received an Olivier Award nomination for Outstanding Achievement. He recently appeared on television as Dr. Abel Gideon in Hannibal, and he produced and starred in the FX Networks series The Riches. His films include ValkyrieOcean’s Thirteen and Ocean’s TwelveAcross the UniverseMystery MenShadow of the VampireThe Cat’s MeowLost ChristmasCastles in the Sky; and Whisky Galore. His stage appearances include David Mamet’s Race and The Cryptogram; the title role in Marlowe’s Edward II900 Oneonta; and A Day in the Death of Joe Egg in London and on Broadway, which garnered him a Tony nomination for Best Actor. Izzard’s hit one-man shows include Dress to KillStripped, and Force Majeure. His performance in Dress to Kill earned him two Emmy Awards. In 2010, the documentary Believe: The Eddie Izzard Story received an Emmy nomination. In 2009, Izzard ran forty-three marathons in fifty-one days throughout the United Kingdom, and in 2016, he ran twenty-seven marathons in twenty-seven days across South Africa in honor of Nelson Mandela’s twenty-seven years in prison. By running these seventy marathons he has helped raise £4.8 million ($6 million) for the UK charity Sport Relief. 

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