I had no idea who Eddie Izzard was until I was flipping through channels one night, many years ago, and came across his comedy special Dress To Kill on HBO. I stayed for a couple of minutes to listen, and I have yet to recover. It may take a few minutes to jump on his train, which makes sense, as his train of thought seems to be running on several tracks simultaneously, but once you jump on, you just hang on and keep riding for as long as he'll let you. His comedic style and energy are truly unique, in the most interesting and brilliant way.
So imagine the glee in this bookish girl when I found out he has a memoir. Hitting stores tomorrow, Believe Me: A Memoir of Love, Death, and Jazz Chickens is just as brilliant and fascinating as all of his performances.
Believe Me starts with Izzard's childhood, and it breaks your heart early with the way-too-soon death of his mother. This becomes the defining moment of his life, as everything he has done since has been an attempt to bring her back. He does ramble a bit through the years, jumping from subject to subject in his stories, as he does in person. It's a little jarring at first, and then it becomes completely endearing, as it is as much a part of him as his warmth or his dyslexia or his cross-dressing or his ambition.
He struggled in school but cut his own path to comedy, finding inspiration wherever he could. He built his career the hard way, brick by brick, from street comedy riding a unicycle to creating a one-man show to finding his way to bigger and bigger venues. During those years, he explored his gender and sexuality, figuring out who he is and becoming increasing comfortable in his own skin.
Izzard is very open with us, sharing his relationship challenges, his feelings about his family, the great moments of his career, his addiction to sugar, his marathon running, health issues, and his regrets. Every fan of his comedy, his dramatic roles, or his philanthropy should read Believe ME as soon as possible. It is pure Eddie Izzard on every page, and we are all better for his having shared his story with us.
Also, if you call yourself a fan of his but you have yet to see his take on Charlie Chaplin in the movie The Cat's Meow, shame on you. Buy his book and then get your hands on this movie (in that order). His performance is mesmerizing.
Galleys of Believe Me were provided by Penguin Random House through FirsttoRead.com, with many thanks.