Title: Believe Me: a memoir of love, death, and jazz chickens.
Author: Eddie Izzard
Genre: auto biography, nonfiction
Is this part of a series? No.
Published: June 13th, 2017
I received an Arc of this book from First to Read in exchange for an honest review. My apologies for being late.
Eddie Izzard is a hilarious British stand-up comic ( “cake or death?”). I have always enjoyed his stream-of-conscious comedy and respected him for being “out” as a transvestite at a time when it was very hard. We say Transgender now, but I don’t know if that completely covers it- he feels both masculine and feminine and refers to himself often in the book as an “action transvestite”, loving sports and GI Joe and girls…. and sometimes their skirts and makeup.
Reading this book gave me a new respect for Izzard as an individual and a professional. Loosing his mother at a young age to cancer, Eddie and his brother then went to boarding school- not the easiest thing for anyone, especially a grieving boy with confusing feelings about himself. We face the drama of puberty, flirting, self discovery, and hacking one’s way into the comeday set (street performing, the London circuit, tours, America and acting); all the while trying to make it so that his sexuality is not the only thing he’s known for. It is sad, honest, and often hilarious as Izzard bears all to let us into his world.
This is a five star book for me. In fact, I loved it so much I bought it so that I could check the printed version and give quotes. I loved the flow of the book- a tiny bit choppy and out there as if you are just sitting listening to him talk. He speaks here much like he does in his stand-up (and, indeed some of my favorite zingers here were one show or another). As someone with a transgender person close to me, knowing what they have been through even now, it was nice to hear Izzard’s take.
As far as the Adult Content Scale, it was maybe a three. There is a great amount of language, but not much else.
Now, for the quotes:
(On having the confidence to ask a girl out) If you don’t have the confidence to walk out the door and say, “Hey, who wants to have a relationship with me? I’m a teenage guy with no real experience or confidence! But it’s going to be fun,” then it’s just not going to happen.
(How he came out as trans during one of his routines) I had one joke about being TV that I had been carrying around for about four or five years. It was this: “If you’re a comedian, it’s good to have something to rail against. So if you’re from the working class background, you can say ‘Oh, the rich people! They’re always in control.’ If you’re a woman you can say “oh, men! They’re always getting paid more!’ If you’re from an ethnic background, you can say, ‘Oh, white people. They’re always making it hard for every ethnic group.’ But if you’re a white, male, middle class, stand-up, you have no one to rail against. So thank god I’m a transvestite!” …. When I finally told the joke it got a laugh, but people didn’t actually believe that I was a transvestite. They thought I was joking!
(On his choice to go in “girl mode” sometimes). …How I dress and what I look like is not a character. It’s me. I’m just talking. And sometimes I just happen to be wearing lipstick.
(On his constant drive to push himself) Most of us think that while we are here on earth if we eat cake and watch television, that’s fine. That’s what we’re supposed to do. But that’s now what our bodies are built for. I believe we can all do more than we think we can do.
(His outlook on our differences) …If you look at what makes us all similar instead of looking to find what makes us different, you’ll see that there is one thing that is the same for all of humanity: And that is love.
……..We are all worth fighting for. Running and hiding and separating, building walls, hating the Muslims, hating the Jews, hating immigrants-none of this builds a better world. The twenty-first century is a key century for us on this planet. Either we make a world, where all seven billion people have a fair chance in this century-or forget it. I don’t think we are going to make it as a species. Despair is the fuel of terrorism and hope is the fuel of civilization, so we have to put more hope into the world than despair. Hatred and separation and building walls is not the way to progress.
….Some people say I am a nonbeliever. But I am a believer; I believe in humanity. I believe in people. I believe in our ability to make the world a better, more compassionate, and more civilized place.
Link to book: