What’s the German word for trading off past glories and not being quite as funny as you used to be?
Despite branding his latest tour Wunderbar, Eddie Izzard seemed below par on the first night of his two-gig stint at Norwich Theatre Royal.
The comic has always traded on the free-flowing nature of his comedy, appearing to be improvised and off the cuff when in reality the material is deeply woven and constructed. It’s that magic that marks Izzard out as one of the great comedians of his generation.
The current pitch, though, is too frayed. Routines tumble after one another but there is no golden thread to hold them together.
His voicing of animals harks back to past material; his Lord of the Rings set a poor substitute for the Death Star Cantina routine that is still so well-loved that it still features on tour merchandise.
The set was undeniably entertaining and there are dozens of jobbing comedians that would be delighted to come close to Izzard’s confidence and ability. The disappointment was that he didn’t live up to himself.
The biggest laughs of the night came for his retelling of jokes from his late father, a sign of the warmth and affection the audience held for him rather than because of their objectively dazzling wit.
Too much of the rest of the show coasted on the same goodwill for it to be truly wunderbar.
The Wunderbar tour continues at Cambridge Corn Exchange on October 25 and 26, and venues nationwide.