An enormously popular British comedian known as much for his transvestitism as he is for his excoriating social observations, Eddie Izzard is one of the most gleefully unpredictable -- to say nothing of contradictory -- performers to have sabotaged the stage and screen during the late 20th century.
Born in Yemen on February 7, 1962, Izzard grew up in Wales and Northern Ireland. Following his mother's death when he was six, Izzard found some degree of solace in comedy, particularly the works of Monty Python, Steve Martin, Richard Pryor, and the early Benny Hill. He began doing stand-up at college and, after being ingloriously kicked out of school, he took his act to the streets. Izzard refined his material -- which largely revolved around personal experiences, politics, and social issues -- over the next decade, and in the early '90s, he finally began earning some measure of recognition. His stand-up work brought him British Comedy Awards in 1993 and 1996, and with popular and critical approval thus in hand, Izzard began appearing in films.