; ARENAiOUR 2003H|GHLIGHTS EDDIE IZZARD l Too Sexie for his tights Comedy editor Maureen Ellis points her finger at the mlrthsters who made her laugh the loudest

and longest this year

; Bestriding the globe like some comedy colossus in fishnets,

' everyone’s favourite action transvestite returns to our shores

\. with a new live show, video and personally endorsed lipstick. Selling out across Australia, North America and Eastbourne, Sexie is now filling arenas across the UK, the drawing power of its rambling man-chiId-woman star undiminished.

From the uncertain, rather tubby stand-up who favoured midriff-high chinos over mascara, to the sleek, running, jumping, tree-climbing comedy legend performing entire sets in

~ French for confused Parisians, Eddie lzzard has become our unlikeliest export since mad cattle. And it’s been a privilege to behold. A Brit eccentric and trans-Atlantic success in the Milligan, Sellers and Python mould, an American . national enquirer in the Bill Hicks tradition, with a dash of Antoine de Caunes’ Eurotart and desire

to be a serious actor, the guy should be our mongrel nation’s cultural ambassador. .v Forget the mercifully cancelled Cows. Forget that his last show, Circle,

12.30am at the Stand's Festival Club in late March captured the



The Stand, Glasgow, Thu 18- Sat 20 Dec

‘l have written some shite. I’ve done Brian Conley’

You've got to feel for Paul Whitehouse. Simon Munnery and. to a lesser extent. Dylan Moran. Slaving over drafts of TV shows. they shine their creative expl0its

84 THE LIST 1 1 Dec 2003-8 Jan 2004

to perfection. And then. selflessly. they go cast Johnny Vegas in a bit-part and the show's limelight is whipped from under their noses. It's rough justice. of sons. that Tony Burgess inflicts the same fate on the St Helen's pottery guru in his first comedy video. DVD. Who '3 Ready for Ice-Cream. Burgess plays Vegas' bipolar flatmate and wannabe stand-up Tony Kenna. and the script's plot has them sharing babyfood. Johnny's bed and a bubble bath.

'So you've seen me bollocks. then?’ says Burgess in his thick Manchester accent. upon mention of Vegas' pet Christmas project. Indeed. the sight of hairy knackers is just one of many queaSy gems within the video. Burgess is outstanding as the persistent. obsessive Kenna. ‘Johnny thinks I'm a psycho. which I'm not. obviously.‘ admits Burgess. ‘But I've got the accent. I suppose. I've got the skinhead look. And l'rn not meant to mention Adam Bloom at all.‘

According to Burgess. the proportion of pro—written material to imprOVIsed nonsense falls heavily in the latter's

disappointed slightly. A funnier .man never wore high heels.

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favour. So it comes as less of a surprise to learn that the two have worked together in the past: Burgess co-wrote Vegas' Sony Award-winning Radio 4 show Night Class and supported the rotund phiIOSOpher at the King's in Glasgow on that ill-fated orchestra pit- 8urfing night.

In fact. Burgess writing CV is as long and variously intriguing as Vegas' out- takes. Amid the work for Coogan. Sayle and the Comedy Store lurk some Curious beasts. 'I mean. I have written some shite. I've done Brian Conley. but I actually really enjoy dOing that because it's quite nice writing really rubbish gags. It's dead easy.‘

It seems following the path of least resistance comes easiest to Burgess. Instead of running back to Edinburgh follownig his acclaimed play Comfortable Shoes. he carried on writing and gigging at his own pace. 'I like what I do: a bit of stand-up. a bit of writing. a bit of acting now. which is a bit of a turn up for the books. After this I think everyone will just think I'm a mental stalker and it's all quite real.‘ (Maureen Ellisl

essence of the inaugural Glasgow International Comedy Festival. After the machinations of festivals that never were. and ‘festivals' comprising four gigs. everything fell into place that morning: Frankie BOyle. Des Clarke and Adam Hills had suitably raised the emotions of assembled punters. who eagerly awaited the appearance of the headline act. Only Johnny Vegas was refusing to come off stage at the King's. and was probably in the process of having the stage manager sacked. His eventual performance was worth the wait. but essentially it reflected a festival spirit that was more impOrtant than bums on seats and clever programming. It was intimate. exciting and raw. More of the same next year. please.

Meanwhile. in Edinburgh. The dissenters numbered as many as the fans of American palindrome fanatic Demetri Martin. A Yale undergrad turned stand-up comedian? Using fancy words and showing off quirky talents for laughs? It's too clever/ contrived/crass to be funny. said some. Others rightly saw in his Perrier-scooping performance a spark of ingenuity and originality that is as close to genius as you can ever hope to witness. What '8 most exciting about Martin is that If /. . . is only one string to his well- endowed bow. His comedy is multi- faceted and exciting. With a ‘Comedy Lab' episode in the offing, and maybe (maybe) even a 2004 Fringe show detailing his marriage breakdown, his future is luminous.