Eddie Izzard loves Chicago’s ‘appreciation for all things naughty’

SHARE Eddie Izzard loves Chicago’s ‘appreciation for all things naughty’
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Eddie Izzard portrays the Prince of Wales in “Victoria and Abdul.” | Brian de Rivera Simon/Getty Images

At the mere mention of Chicago to Eddie Izzard,the actor and comedian’s face really lit up. “Ah yes,” said the entertainer, taking the time to slowly enunciate Our Town’s moniker as “Chi-cawwww-goh.”

“Your city is such a great place. There’s the one coast in America and then the other — New York and L.A. — but in the middle of that great nothingness there’s that wondrous Chicago! It’s a great beating heart in the middle of America. I’ve played it many times and am so looking forward to coming back.

“You have the absolute best comedy audiences. I think it’s all tied to Chicago being such a center of comedy. There’s your Second City and the rest of the comedy clubs. So many great comedians have come out of Chicago — Steve Carell, Bill Murray, all those ‘Saturday Night Live’ people. Because Chicagoans have been exposed to so much great comedy, I think it’s made them among the most sophisticated audiences of comedy I have ever seen.

“You also have that great lake that sits there going, ‘Hi! I’m a huge lake!’ Plus, Chicago is connected to so many wild things: Prohibition, the gangster stuff from the 1920s. … I think that’s why Chicago has such appreciation for all things naughty!”

In his new film role in “Victoria and Abdul” (opening Friday), Izzard plays the Prince of Wales known for most of his life as Bertie, who would succeed his mother Queen Victoria as King Edward VII. In the film, the long-serving queen is played by Judi Dench.

Izzard’s prince does not come off as being very appealing, as the film focuses on his well-known reputation as a playboy, excluded by his mother and her ministers from matters of state. However, Izzard clearly has a soft spot for the man who spent nearly 60 years waiting to become king.

“There was a reason for how he turned out,” said Izzard. “Bertie was not well treated by his mother. You have to remember she blamed him for the death of her beloved husband Albert, who contracted typhoid after spending hours lecturing Bertie on his bad behavior while out in blustery weather.

“Look. He saw his mother and father from birth until he was a young man only 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes in the evening. That’s not love. He was not allowed to mix with other boys, so he had no real friends as a child. … No wonder he went off the rails a bit!”

NOTE: “Eddie Izzard: An Intimate Evening,” will play Chicago’s Athenaeum Theatre on Oct. 5-6. The show features the comedian in an evening of standup, home movies and audience Q&A. For tickets, visit web.ovationtix.com.

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