British comedian and actor Eddie Izzard might be best known for his stand-up comedy and his penchant for wearing women’s clothing. He first really came onto my radar after I saw — and loved — the 1998 film Velvet Goldmine. Last year I happened to catch Izzard being interviewed on France24. He was in Paris doing a series of stand-up shows in French. During the interview he admitted ambition to do the same in a number of other languages, including German. Which brings us to this January where he is, coincidentally, currently on tour in Germany doing those shows in German. Izzard has been sharing updates and photos on social media of his Berlin-based performances.
The man wants to be mayor of London, has run countless miles for charity and is now intending to learn countless foreign languages. Quite frankly, he’s making the rest of us just look bad. But in all seriousness his devotion to learning languages is inspiring to a language learner like myself.
In a world where English speakers seem satisfied to let the rest of the world come to them, Izzard has been outspoken on the value of learning other languages — both for his own betterment as well as for his professional career. He has been open about the fact that it is more lucrative doing stand-up in the locale’s native tongue than in English. As inspiring as the move is it is also, admittedly, a huge publicity coup. Well, maybe not huge exactly. But our society seems in awe of those who are able to master multiple languages, an otherwise unconquerable task. It’s hard enough learning one language for most of us!
But what I really want to know: what’s his secret to learning foreign languages? What’s his trick for learning German?
Photo from Eddie Izzard/whosay