Wednesday, August 16, 2017


Remember when I said recently that Dave Chappelle’s approach to comedy was similar to my own if I had done comedy but I didn’t but if I had I would have been conversational and relaxed like Dave Chappelle, except that Dave Chappelle would have been better?

Well – Happy Days – by which I do not mean the 70’s sitcom with Fonzie in it but real-life happy days themselves – I have discovered – or, more accurately, re-discovered because I was already aware of him – what I perceive as a superior comedian who exhibits a top-of-the-line of what I would have been like as a comedian had I been a comedian but instead wasn’t.

It is an exhilarating feeling – knowing I am not as good as a better comedian.


And who is that, at least in my view, superior comedian?

Eddie Izzard. 

That would have been me.  Minus the eye shadow, the high heels, the sequined outfits and the painted fingernails.  Which is a lot, but is not the comedic essence of Eddie Izzard.  Though it is integral to his persona, and we shall leave it at that.

I have been recently re-introduced to the inimitable comedy stylings of Eddie Izzard – well not entirely inimitable; I believe if I had done my version of Eddie Izzard-style comedy, he’d have said, “You got me… sixty-seven percent.”  So… “not entirely inimitable.”  Now where was I?  Oh yeah.

I am currently listening to a Book-on-CD entitled Believe Me – A Memoir of Love, Death and Jazz Chickens, written by Eddie Izzard.  (Although, as an admitted dyslexic – who believes it’s unfair bordering on cruel for dyslexics to have to learn to spell the word “dyslexic” – it is unclear how Izzard is reading this book, or wrote it comprehensibly in the first place.) 

Note:  As with virtually all the books I listen to on CD, the author I am currently reading’s writing patios inevitably seeps into these offerings.  Like, when I was listening to the Master and Commander books, there was a lot more in my posts about rigging.  You may not remember that but there was. 

“When I went to the Toronto Hebrew Day School, if we were caught eating a non-kosher hamburger we would strung up from the yardarm by our yarmulkes.”

Coming back to you now, isn’t it?

Anyway, that wasn’t true.  Although I did serve a month’s detention for that aforementioned transgression – lusting after unsanctioned meat products.


“No more ‘anyways’ – You are wasting their time!”

Sorry.  Anyways… oops, sorry, that was definitely my last “anyways.”

“No more ‘anyways’ or we’ll chop off your leg.” 

Okay, moving on.  Warily.  Wait.  “Anyways” – “Anyway.”  Is there a difference?  I’m not really sure. 

“We shall confuse them with a distinction without a difference.”

Damn, those sadistic linguistics people.  Anyways… oh, no!  There goes my leg!”

Okay, back to reality, or what passes for reality in this venue.

Biographical Similarities Between Eddie Izzard and Myself (possibly random, possibly significant, nonetheless fascinating.  He said, secretly fearing the opposite):

Eddie Izzard was born on February the 7th.  Earlo Pomerantz was born on February the 4th.  Astrological influences?  Maybe, maybe not.  With evidentiary leanings towards “Maybe.”

Eddie Izzard’s mother died when he was six.  Earlo Pomerantz’s father died when he was six.  Freudian Analyst:  “Vehghry Intehrehsting.”

Eddie Izzard likes to play the piano, but only music he is interested in.  Sounds extreeemely familiar.  Although still possibly meaningless.

Eddie Izzard has an older brother with whom he unconsciously competes.  

Enough!  Sometimes you feel like you have given away too much.  I may regret revealing I only play music I am interested in.  But I can’t take it back now.  It is out there.  And I am ready to face the consequences.

Stylistic Similarities Between Eddie Izzard and Myself:  

Eddie Izzard is a comedian/slash/teacher. 

(Footnote:  He is also, like me, obsessively specific in his recollections, often to no imaginable effect.  In his audio memoir – where he regularly interrupts his readings to include spontaneous “Footnotes”, like when he explains that some pianos at his sleep-away school were locked but one of them wasn’t, he goes on to delineate in which rooms in the sleep-away school each of those locked and unlocked pianos were located.  Not dissimilarly, I once expended numerous paragraphs on “Choosing the appropriate hotdog stick.”  End of “Izzardian” footnote.)

My favorite example of his comedian/slash/teacher approach is a routine in which Eddie Izzard exposes the transparent outrage of 19th Century imperialism:  (An impressionistic facsimile):

“A British sea captain arrives in India.  He and his crew come ashore, the British sea captain plants a flag on the beach and says, “I claim this land for Her Majesty Queen Victoria and the British Empire.”  Then an indigenous Indian comes out and says, “What are you doing?”  To which the British sea captain replies, “I am claiming this land for her Majesty Queen Victoria and the British Empire.”  The indigenous Indian goes, “You can’t do that.  We live here.  Five hundred million of us.”  To which the British sea captain replies, “Do you have a flag?”

Message received.  With an enormous laugh, usually accompanied by applause.

I can imagine doing a similar narrative about Canada.  Except at the end, the imperialized Canadians would go, “Okay.”

Why wasn’t I comedian/slash/teacher type of comedian, or any other type of comedian for that matter?  (He explained, not for the first time, although this time, with a more clarified understanding.)

Well, I’ll tell ya.  Are you familiar with the idea of “Necessary but not sufficient”?

You have a cluster of attributes necessary to make you a lesser but still viable comedian/slash/teacher type of comedian.  (Though dressed in more conventional attire.)  But there are also attributes you lack.  So, although though you  demonstrably pass on the “Necessary” you fall short on the “Sufficient.”
Eddie Izzard has “Gusto” (personally acknowledged in his memoir) and “Cheek.” (Which his biographical anecdotes reflect.)

Sounds like an English vaudeville team: “Gusto and Cheek” – “Featuring their classic, riotous routine:  ‘Two comedians – one pair of trousers.”’

Eddie Izzard began as a street performer, what they call in England, a busker.  Buskers muck entertainingly about with, like, people standing in line, waiting to go into the movies.  (Footnote:  In England, at least when I lived there, rather than standing in line to buy their tickets, moviegoers purchase their tickets and then line up to get in.  Which… either way, I guess… it’s a line… so never mind.  End of unnecessary footnote.)

(Belated Correction:  I just heard in the Eddie Izzard audiobook that he was never a busker, he was specifically a street performer, the vital distinction being that buskers are invariably musicians who entertain captive audiences like lines of people waiting to get into a movie, and street performers put on complete shows for crowds of people who gather around.  I did not delete and replace the last paragraph because… doing this is easier.  End of corrective footnote.)

Rather than “Gusto”, I am more insinuatingly “under the radar” funny.  And you can forget entirely about “Cheek.”  Approaching strangers in a movie line?  I wouldn’t talk to a movie-line stranger if they were standing on my foot.  (I would.  But it would be brief and not imaginably funny.  “Excuse me.  You’re standing on my foot.”  That’s asking directions to the train station.)

Diagnosis of Inadequacy (a summary for the written exam):  “He had the ‘Necessary’ but not the ‘Sufficient.’”

You know what they call a “Necessary” comedian without the “Sufficient”?

A writer.

Still, there is a comfort in being an untried lesser version of a wonderful comedian.

And only a modicum of envy.

1 comment:

Max Clarke said...

Earl, my Audible credit arrived yesterday, so I've just bought the Eddie Izzard memoir because of your mention here. It was already on my wish list.

A comedy audiobook I can recommend is You're Lucky You're Funny, by Phil Rosenthal. He was the originator and showrunner for Everybody Loves Raymond. Even has a couple of stories with Ed. Weinberger.