Believe Me by Eddie Izzard

Believe Me

Eddie Izzard

Izzard reflects on a childhood marked by the loss of his mother, boarding school, and alternative sexuality, as well as a life in comedy, film, politics, running, and philanthropy.

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New York Times Bestseller

"Izzard is one of the funniest people alive, a talented actor, a sharp cross-dresser, an experienced marathon runner, and a great writer. You will have to read this if only to find out what a jazz chicken is."
The Philadelphia Inquirer

With his brand of keenly intelligent humor that ranges from world history to historical politics, sexual politics, mad ancient kings, and chickens with guns, Eddie Izzard has built an extraordinary fan base that transcends age, gender, and race. Writing with the same candor and insight evident in his comedy, he reflects on a childhood marked by the loss of his mother, boarding school, and alternative sexuality, as well as a life in comedy, film, politics, running and philanthropy.

Honest and generous, Believe Me is an inspired account of a very singular life thus far.


Advance Galley Reviews

I've loved Eddie Izzard since I saw his HBO comedy special. It was such a treat to read stories about his upbringing and how he's become as funny and famous as he is now.

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.

I guaranteed my copy of this book because I am a fan of Eddie Izzard's stand-up comedy so I jumped at the chance to get to read his memoir. It mostly didn't let me down. I do think that my experience with the book would have been improved by listening to the audiobook rather than reading the book. While I'm familiar with Izzard's comedy style, I think the humor would have been more effective delivered by him via audio. And I may splurge and buy the audiobook at some point to test this theory. While I fully understand the concept of a memoir, I have come to expect that memoirs by people I know as comedians will be funny, and Believe Me was not nearly as funny as I was expecting it to be (this may have been helped if I'd had the audiobook). However, this may be due in part to the fact that Izzard is not strictly a comedian. In fact, he apparently has a passion for drama, so I learned something new, which is always a good thing. The writing style in Believe Me is not like Izzard's comedy style, which is understandable after reading the book and learning how he builds his routines, but the tag-line kind of led me to believe that they'd be fairly similar (so Mr. Izzard, if you happen to read this, for Believe Me 2.0 could you add in some more jokey stuff like the jazz chickens?) And I probably really shouldn't complain about how serious the book ended up being, considering all of the events that shaped his childhood and young adult life. I just have this idea in my head of what he's like, and he basically just said "Ha! Fuck your ideas about me. You know nothing Jon Snow." He's not wrong, I basically knew nothing about him it turns out. So I found this book very enlightening and informative. Overall I give Believe Me 4 out of 5 stars.

I honestly did not know who Eddie Izzard is before I saw this book. I found this memoir to be funny and poignant. I found it to be a really great story. It is well-written and tells his story from his unique, often funny, perspective from childhood to the present. I thoyght it was very well done nod I will have to check out his comedy performances.

Having been a fan of Eddie Izzard's for more than a 15 years, I was more than thrilled to see this memoir/autobiography from his hands. The book takes us from his earliest childhood, the loss of his mother as a very young child, his relationship with his dad, brother, school mates, girls, stepmother and his sexuality. The latter is an important part of the package that is Eddie Izzard and he spends a fair amount of time and space discussing this. For those that have and are going through a situation as LGBT+ (as he calls it), there are many lessons to be learned in this book and they are quite heartfelt. The career as and development into a comedian is fascinating and an example of fantastic persistence and stamina, more than he envisioned himself when he first started out. But it makes for interesting reading. So is his marathon-running for charity which is a lot less known here in the US than it is in the UK and South Africa (where he ran 27 marathons in 27 days despite some serious health issues in the beginning), The storytelling in the book is trademark Izzard and the countless footnotes resemble his comedic style(where he constantly gets distracted by something that suddenly fascinates him). As a reader, these footnotes are interesting, but also frequently a little annoying ("really... another footnote... what do you have in mind now...?"). However, when reading it I read it with his voice in mind and it made the book so much better. That being said, after finishing the book, I came across the audiobook and as a fan, I had to listen to it. It is simply fantastic. I'm not saying you shouldn't read the book, but if you are a fan, you really should do yourself the favor and listen to the audiobook instead. I loved every second of it and it has more material than the book, again because he strays off topic (or sort of topic) just like in his shows. Bottomline, for fans, this book is a great read, for others, it is an interesting look into the weird and wonderful life of this comedian and LGBT+ person and how he dealt with some of life's serious challenges.

Eddie Izzard's comedy is like a cultural language in itself. You can identify people by their jokes and quips. "Cake or death?" "I was on the moon, with Steve!" "Obviously, Hitler never played Risk as a child." Et al. There's a joy in discovering another fan and playing with the shared joy of Izzard's humor, and I've adored him since I discovered him and his embodiment of genderfuck while in my early teens. Believe Me is like a conversation with Izzard. The voice is so unmistakable that reading the book one cannot but help hear Izzard narrating in one's head. The memoir is poignant and touching, with a deft seasoning of Izzard's humor, and a careful handling of painful and difficult subjects. I also highly recommend the audiobook, read by Izzard, and enriched with "live footnotes" as Izzard makes on-the-fly additions to the text and existing footnotes.

If Eddie Izzard were to go to a shrink and the shrink were himself, this would be the transcript. My initial reaction, for the first 50 pages or so, was that this was written for his fans. His stand-up style of comedic timing and voice are mirrored in his writing and, if a reader is not already familiar with his work, the asides (footnotes) become cumbersome. For fans of Izzard’s comedy shows, this memoir provides insight into his stories and anecdotes. It’s as though we, the readers, are being given the opportunity to listen in on a therapy session as Izzard answers questions regarding why he is the way he is in every aspect of his adult life – both personally and professionally. But that was just the initial reaction; by the end, my feelings were different. As I kept reading, it became clear that Izzard’s trademarks of using fierce intelligence and sardonic humor to mask deep pain was more than just a good read – this is a story of resilience. As I was reading – no, sharing - the death of his mother, life in boarding schools, sexual awakening, I realized that Izzard is a type of Everywoman for the modern era. (I know the term is Everyman, but seriously? This is 2017 – include the women.) What family hasn’t experienced a death or terminal illness? What family doesn’t have at least one member struggling with sexual orientation? (Or you may be the person struggling and don’t know who to turn to.) Who hasn’t felt adrift when making life decisions? This is an Everywoman story for the modern era. This is not just for fans. This memoir is for everyone. And now for something completely different...(in my best Monty Python voice) As much as I enjoyed the memoir, there are two things I sincerely hope will happen: 1. That the footnotes are converted to italics or off-set by hyphens in later editions. (It’s very distracting to the flow of the work to perform eye gymnastics for the entire work AND the symbols are extremely difficult to make out on an e-reader.) 2. That Izzard will do the audio readings – please and thank you.

While there were moments where I found the this memoir to be a tad repetitive, I did enjoy reading about Eddie Izzard childhood and journey to who he is today. I also thoroughly enjoyed reading the footnotes. I am glad I was able to get access to this galley.

I had no idea who Eddie Izzard was until I was flipping through channels one night, many years ago, and came across his comedy special Dress To Kill on HBO. I stayed for a couple of minutes to listen, and I have yet to recover. It may take a few minutes to jump on his train, which makes sense, as his train of thought seems to be running on several tracks simultaneously, but once you jump on, you just hang on and keep riding for as long as he'll let you. His comedic style and energy are truly unique, in the most interesting and brilliant way.  So imagine the glee in this bookish girl when I found out he has a memoir. Hitting stores tomorrow, Believe Me: A Memoir of Love, Death, and Jazz Chickens is just as brilliant and fascinating as all of his performances.  Believe Me starts with Izzard's childhood, and it breaks your heart early with the way-too-soon death of his mother. This becomes the defining moment of his life, as everything he has done since has been an attempt to bring her back. He does ramble a bit through the years, jumping from subject to subject in his stories, as he does in person. It's a little jarring at first, and then it becomes completely endearing, as it is as much a part of him as his warmth or his dyslexia or his cross-dressing or his ambition. He struggled in school but cut his own path to comedy, finding inspiration wherever he could. He built his career the hard way, brick by brick, from street comedy riding a unicycle to creating a one-man show to finding his way to bigger and bigger venues. During those years, he explored his gender and sexuality, figuring out who he is and becoming increasing comfortable in his own skin.  Izzard is very open with us, sharing his relationship challenges, his feelings about his family, the great moments of his career, his addiction to sugar, his marathon running, health issues, and his regrets. Every fan of his comedy, his dramatic roles, or his philanthropy should read Believe ME as soon as possible. It is pure Eddie Izzard on every page, and we are all better for his having shared his story with us.  Also, if you call yourself a fan of his but you have yet to see his take on Charlie Chaplin in the movie The Cat's Meow, shame on you. Buy his book and then get your hands on this movie (in that order). His performance is mesmerizing.  Galleys of Believe Me were provided by Penguin Random House through FirsttoRead.com, with many thanks.

I've been a fan of Eddie Izzard's comedy ever since his special 'Dressed to Kill.' He's a fascinating person with smart and bitingly funny takes on the world. 'Believe Me' doesn't disappoint. His signature wit is on display, even if at some points he seems to be recycling material from previous specials. And his rambling story structure--so great in his stage work--feels ever so slightly off-putting on the page. I found myself longing to hear his voice deliver these words because I know hearing him tell the stories would make the structure work. Still, this book is well worth your time and Izzard's story is well worth following. It's a breeze to read and entertaining all the way through.

An enjoyable book for fans of Eddie Izzard and his sense of humor. I laughed and cringed and generally didn't want to put this one down. The footnotes in particular should not be missed! A few minor grievances - we get it, you've gone off sugar - but I was entertained and touched, and grateful to be able to read this advance copy. I do plan on owning this one as well!

This insightful glimpse into the wonderfully twisted workings of Eddie Izzard was entertaining. Although the story did jump around quite a bit, it tended to lend itself to understanding the way Eddie's life looks in reflection. Several times I would find myself laughing out loud about some situations in the book. And the stories of when Eddie was in those awkward years of adolescence were a little endearing to me for some similarities to my own adolescence. Since I had the opportunity to read an advance reading copy, I am truly hoping that all of the editing issues will be corrected prior to publication. It was distracting when I had to stop reading and think of the missing words or the correct word choices to make sense of what I had just read. This truly detracted from the book. Other than the editing issues, this book was an entertaining read.

Eddie Izzard is a fascinating individual who has led an interesting life. For fans, this book is definitely worth reading, as you learn about not only how he came to be the comedian and actor he is today, but also his transgender journey. And the voice behind the words in unmistakable - you know you're reading Eddie's take on life. It's sometimes sad, often amusing (especially with all the asides in footnotes) and generally an enjoyable memoir.

I was very excited to read this as Eddie Izzard is one of my favorite performers. I really enjoyed this book, but I think I missed out on something by not listening to the audiobook (assuming he will read it himself). It was very interesting to learn about Eddie's upbringing and how he became successful, and I definitely recommend this anyone who is a fan of Eddie Izzard or of memoirs.

From a childhood in boarding schools to his current success. I feel as though I have spent several hours reminiscing with a good friend. Such a delightful book. I am recommending this to all my friends.

Extremely charming and insightful. Izzard has a chatty, inviting narrative voice, and his observations, especially about his childhood and teenage years, are hilariously relatable and touching. It's also really encouraging to find out that someone whose work you admire had to go through years of plugging away and not really seeing results yet. The later chapters feel a bit rushed, which made me wonder if maybe he didn't want to go into too much detail about recent relationships and friendships; or maybe it's just harder to write about the recent past with the same vividness as one's childhood. But it was still interesting to see his career tip over into out-and-out success. I'm really glad I had a chance to read this.

I recieved a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review from First to Read. I have to say that I LOVE Eddie! I was super excited to see that he was writing a book. I never knew much about his early life, and this book filled in all of the gaps about his early life that I was wondering about. He is a great story teller and if you are a fan, then this is definitely the book you NEED to pick up!. I loved hearing about his childhood, his years at bording school, university, and how he got his start in performing. I loved hearing about his family as well. He has complicated relationships, and it's all in here. If you are at all a fan of his, please pick up this book and read it!

Believe Me Eddie Izzard For anyone that is an Eddie Izzard fan, this will be an interesting and enjoyable read. It talks about his early life and how how he overcame his difficulties and went on to make a success out of his life, It is funny as well as being poignant and showing resourcefulness and ingenuity. I thought it read like a transcript of an interview without the Q & A but it is very personable and entertaining. I received this from Penguin's First to Read Program in exchange for an honest review.

Before reading Eddie Izzard's memoir, I was familiar with his work and a fan of his comedy. After reading Believe Me, I have so much more respect and admiration for Izzard. His book was interesting, funny, moving, and inspiring. He did not have the easiest of lives, and fame and celebrity did not just fall into his lap. However, he did accomplish everything he set out to do, even if it took longer than expected. He does jump around a bit, and sometimes he can repeat himself, but the book was still enjoyable. Fans of Izzard should read this book to better understand him and everyone else should read it for inspiration to go after their dreams and not give up.

I enjoyed reading every bit of Eddie Izzard's book! It left me feeling that no matter how long it takes or whichever road/mountain you take/climb we can all end up in the same place. A place of peace. Thank you Mr Izzard. You had me remembering theories that I had as a child. And thanks to you (indirectly), I learned that Robbin Williams thought that I am smart. I understand and enjoy your stand-up so much. This may just be some disease I don't know the name of but I love and respect you (a person I have never met) for who you are and what you have shared with me (in this book). Thank you again! -Ashley Melanson

Thank you to Penguin First to Read for the opportunity to read this book in advance. I was initially wavering between giving this a full four or full five stars, but having thought about it overnight, I think I’m going to go with a four, maybe even rounded up from a 3.5. Not that important. Anyway. I want to start off by saying that I really like Eddie Izzard and his book didn’t change the fact that I like him and I very much enjoy his humor. Eddie Izzard is very funny. He often had me literally laughing out loud. He is also very smart. I think he tries to play himself down like he isn’t smart, but he doesn’t do a great job of that. I sort of mean that he came off a bit cocky, but not overly so. I think he tried to be humble, but to me, it didn’t seem genuine. I’ll explain. Eddie took a very long and winding road on the path to stardom and comedy legend. He worked incredibly hard to get where he is, and he deserves every accolade he gets. He had a very rough childhood, of which you find out right away. No child should outlive a parent at such an innocent and young age. There is no question that Eddie suffered greatly in a most cruel and unfair way. It is this tragic loss of his mother and the consequent loss of his youth that I believe sets him up for writing in a way that, as I mentioned before, doesn’t seem humble. There was a lot of “that is a very hard thing to do” and “that is not an easy thing to do” said throughout about the tasks he undertook. And it wasn’t necessarily that he was blaming anybody or anything for trekking the long route to Hollywood and beyond, but a lot of the time when he was explaining why he went down a certain path, he would make sure the reader knew that what he did wasn’t easy. It was a hard thing to do. Very hard. It was like a fallback plan in case he didn’t achieve what he wanted to do. If he didn’t make it, it’s okay, it was a very hard thing to do. But be it stand-up comedy, surviving through boarding school and the loss of a parent, acting, flying, running…Eddie succeeds at it all. So by telling me over and over that what he did was hard (he literally uses the word ‘hard’ and very few other variants), feels like one inch away from saying “Look how wonderful I am,” “Look what I’ve achieved and look how hard I worked for it. I am bloody wonderful.” And he is wonderful! But I know it was hard. I don’t have to keep being told your journey and your tasks in life were hard. Show me, don’t keep telling me. So, that bothered me, but it doesn’t alter my view on Eddie, which I believe is a great thing. There were some quite dull parts for me, those mainly being the ins and outs of the comedy circuit and the ins and outs of learning to be a pilot. Very detailed and very uninteresting, but that’s purely a personal thing. If you like those two topics, you will probably really enjoy those parts. I’d like to reiterate that Eddie is very funny and very smart, and that I enjoyed reading about his life, from childhood to adulthood. I’d recommend this if you’re a fan of comedy and/or a fan of Eddie’s. Definitely worth the time.

Eddie Izzard's book was a unique read. If you've seen his standup, you'll enjoy this book. His personality and voice leap from the pages. There were times when it was a bit difficult to read because of the tangents (marked with footnotes) but I believe this was more because I was reading on my Nook and the actual footnote would sometimes be two or three pages beyond where it had been marked. Overall, a lively and entertaining read.

I am a big fan of Eddie Izzard, but I didn't know much about his personal life prior to reading this memoir. I found it very interesting and it gave great insight to one of the greatest comedians of our time. The reader gets his signature delivery, but you really get a sense of who he is as a man. It's definitely humorous, but if you are expecting a straight comedic memoir then you will be disappointed. Personally, I found there to be a great balance of humor and seriousness as he is talking about his life. I very much appreciate being given the opportunity to read this in advance and highly encourage those who are fans of Mr. Izzard to check this out.

I love Eddie Izzard but his style of story telling doesn't translate as well to the page as I had hoped. While it's still entertaining at times it shows just how important his delivery is to the material when he's trying to be humorous. Too often in the beginning of the book it began to feel a bit preachy; multiple times he added commentary on a story about his 5 year old self and the death of his mother about the evils of processed sugars. It just didn't work at all and it distracted from the story that was a bit funny and sad and turned it into a soapbox moment that detracted heavily from how serious the story could have been and made it harder for me to read going forward. Talking about the problem of sugars in food shined through more than the impact of his mother's passing and that ruined the tale and informed my reading of the rest of the book.

As a long time fan of Eddie Izzard's standup, I was truly pleased to see how much his voice carried over from his comedy to his more personal writing. While I'm not sure how much it would appeal to readers who are not already fans - stylistically, the book was definitely a ramble and occasionally a bit confusing - but for those who are, I think it provides some excellent insight into his life and his motivations.

I am a huge Eddie Izzard fan, so when I had the opportunity to win an advance copy of his memoir, I jumped at the chance. And I was lucky enough to receive a copy! I am not usually a fan of memoirs, but I made an exception for Believe Me. I'm glad I did because Believe Me is about 400 pages of pure Eddie Izzard. The only things I really knew about Eddie Izzard prior to reading his memoir were that he lived in Northern Ireland as a young child and that he is transgender. Reading Believe Me filled in the gaps in my knowledge. I now know that his father was an accountant, his mother died when he was young, and a few details about how he came to be a famous stand-up comedian. When I read celebrity memoirs I often wonder how much of the book the celebrity actually wrote and how much of it was written by a ghost writer. I didn't have to wonder with this one. Eddie Izzard discusses how he developed his "voice" as a stand up comedian in his memoir. That signature voice shines through in Believe Me. If you're a fan of Eddie Izzard, Believe Me will not disappoint. If you don't know who Eddie Izzard is, go watch one of his stand-up performances. I recommend Dress to Kill.

An interesting look into the life of a comedian who can seemingly do it all. The over arching theme of this book is that you may not be prepared, have a plan, or even the means to do something, but if you truly think you can, you'll find a way. Maybe you won't be able to do everything, but without believing you can, you get no where. Simple, but intriguing idea. Using this methodology, Izzard was able to do many things so far that he never would have dreamed of. Flying a plane, running multiple marathons, going from college drop out to acclaimed award winning actor. Izzard may not think his life so far had been remarkable, but I certainly think so. Growing up in multiple countries, having lost his mother while so young, being transgender, and basically carving a career out by just believing he could. A great read for those familiar with his work, and Econ those not that like a good autobiography.

This book was a fun read, especially if you know Eddie Izzard, it is like he is narrating it in his own voice. He details his young life growing up, his coming out as transvestite/transgender (he uses these terms throughout the book), his career, and his mental strength to run marathons. Whether you are a fan or not, it is a great read about a life being well lived.

I don't really ever read memoirs or autobiographies. Even though I find many people to have wonderfully interesting lives, I tend to prefer works of fiction. But because this book is a memoir by one of my favorite comedians I took an interest in it and had very high hopes. Unfortunately, while there were definitely parts that I loved, as a whole I just didn't love it. Eddie Izzard has had a truly interesting life and I admire his willingness to share his story with the world, but this book just rambles. His rambling works very well in his comedy act, in fact it's one of the things I love about his stand-up, however rambling is not something I enjoy in the books I read. If you are familiar with Eddie Izzard's work at all you can definitely hear his voice in your head as you read the book, which at times I found to be laugh-out-loud hilarious. When he performs he often goes off on tangents though, and that happened a lot in the book. I don't know what anyone that is unfamiliar with him would make of it. They would probably just think it was poorly edited. And maybe it was. What I found to be most lacking from the book was how he comes up with the content of his stand-up acts. I mean that's the way he attained most of his fans, right? But that section of the book was basically just skimmed over. He gave a list of years and locations for his performances but that was about it. For example, a lot of his stand-up topics are heavily geared toward historical events and I've always wondered if he was just super intelligent and has all these things stored in his memory, or if a lot of research went into it ahead of time. He has an extremely positive outlook on life, and I really admire that. Throughout his entire life he was always challenging himself to do more and be better. I find him to be very intelligent, and I think that if I ever had the opportunity to meet him I'd really like him. I'm just sorry I didn't enjoy this book more because I really wanted to.

I have been a longtime fan of Eddie's and thoroughly enjoyed reading his life story. The book is definitely arranged "Eddie-style", with him going off on tangents in every story he tells, repeating bits and pieces and not providing a closing on some narratives. He gave great insight into his childhood and his passion for marathons. What I thought was really missing were details of how he comes up with his content for the stand up specials he's famous for. He mentions several times in the book about being an atheist, yet one of his most popular specials was "Glorious", which was mostly bible-centric jokes and stories. He kind of glossed over most of that. It would have been fun to hear his thoughts on some of the 'behind the scenes' things that go on in his 'Hollywood' life. It was very heartfelt to include his struggles with his identity and coming to terms with being comfortable in one's own skin. Overall, I would definitely recommend this for Eddie fans and soon-to-be Eddie fans!

I am a huge fan of Eddie Izard and could not wait to read "Believe Me." I have seen him live many times and he is one of the best comedians around. Needless to say, I jumped at the chance to read the book. The chapters on his early childhood, while interesting, were at times challenging to keep track of what age he is or in what order events happened. He states up front that he would not be following a linear timeline, but due to this he. Repeats bits of stories in different chapters. I kept asking myself, "where is the editor?" The later part of the book was my favorite. I have always known the confident, intelligent, and talented performer that he is today. To hear how he struggled and that his craft did not come easily to him was revealing. He allowed himself to be vulnerable when discussed his sexuality and his fear of going out into the streets in in "girl mode." Overall the book was moving and provided great insight into heis journey. One which I look forward to watching continue for a years to come.

Eddie Izzard is a beloved British comedian, actor, activist and marathon runner. He's also known, for better or for worse, for being a proud transvestite. I say for better or for worse because as he explains in Believe Me, what he chooses to wear is just a simple, inherent facet of his inborn personality and it shouldn't detract from his art whatsoever, or force him to be identified by it. He puts it all quite simply, clearly and helpfully, I would imagine, for anyone who's faced similar troubles. "The wish to express my feminine side has been in me since I was four. And if any woman or teenage girl has ever thought, 'I want to wear high heels,' that is the exact feeling that I have. There is no difference in the feelings." He likens the women's fashion revolution started by Marlene Dietrich and Katharine Hepburn, who began wearing pants while women were still firmly clad in skirts and who were likewise accused of dressing outside their gender. It's worth a read if you've wondered where exactly he stands on the gender and sexuality spectrums and how he's using his experiences to help others. Wonderful, admirable work he's doing. "I just keep going, trying to find a space for myself, and for anyone else, who is on the same path." He describes how hard it is to just be in public when he's in "girl mode" (wearing female clothes) and that he's harshly dealt others' negative reactions. He tells anecdotes of peacefully confronting people who harass him. "If you confront aggression - sometimes just standing your ground or even with cheeriness or politeness - sometimes you can shut it down. It's not a perfect science, but it feels better than being scared." Izzard was born in Yemen, where his father worked for BP and his mother was a nurse. They moved around the UK and Ireland after that, and the pivotal event in his life he tragically lost his mother when he was six. He details his happy childhood up to that point, and then his mostly innocent, sometimes humorous boarding school exploits when he and his brother were sent there shortly after her passing. His father, although loving and later accepting of Eddie's trans identity, couldn't care for them on his own while working. His mother's death is partly what led him to performance and to pushing himself to extreme or far-reaching accomplishments - he lived with an underlying hope that somehow he could get her back, do enough astounding, amazing things that she'd come back. It doesn't make a lot of sense and yet it does. Unfortunately, I'm not sure an editor worked on this book. It's 350 pages of Izzard's often rambling thoughts, interspersed with some worthwhile, meaningful messages that he's extracted from his hard career work and life experiences: "Who the hell cares if you get somewhere very fast? The only person who cares is you...Don't get somewhere as fast as possible. Get somewhere as good as possible." Sometimes his familiar comedy style comes through, but his standup act doesn't translate to the page. Without all the footnotes, addresses of places he lived or worked, sassy but empty asides or sentences that rambled and said nothing at all, it could've and should've been significantly cut down. Maybe a diehard fan would want to read every word about his grades in school, juvenile soccer career and how far he advanced in playing the clarinet as a child. Otherwise, it's maddening and painfully boring, coming from someone with so much creative potential. But I am a fan, I love his brand of standup, where he incorporates straight-up history that would normally be dry into this hilariously woven and relevant storytelling endeavor. I couldn't request a review copy of this fast enough when I saw it existed. He writes often of wanting to be taken seriously as an actor instead of only a comedian, that he hesitated to star in comedy films for fear of blowing his chance at serious acting roles, and since he does often handle weighty issues in his comedy, I didn't expect that the book would be a straight-up laughfest. He makes a joke that lands here and there, my favorite - "America had a war of independence (I just noticed that as I was passing a history book)", others are joking attempts that don't work on paper, and the rest is way too much information about nothing I ever needed to know. It saddens me to say that. The best chapters are in the section "Wilderness Years" (a nice concept borrowed from Winston Churchill historians, referencing the period of time in life when you get a little lost) and his "coming out" regarding his alternative sexuality. It's meaningful and I'm sure it could be very helpful to those potentially struggling in similar situations. There are beautiful, hopeful, uplifting moments, which is exactly what the author intended. But like Tim Gunn would say, it needed an editing eye. He closes the book with some sweet hopefulness, the same that led him to run 27 marathons in 27 days in South Africa in honor of Nelson Mandela, and even if it's a very flawed, not always enjoyable book, he's inarguably a wonderful, caring person who's making the world better just by being around in it. "If you care about humanity, I encourage you all to do more than you think you can do."

I have seen every concert Eddie Izzard has ever given (OK, mostly on DVD but I did get to see him live a few years ago!). His mind is quicksilver, and sometimes, it takes the audience a few beats to catch up with him. This book is very much like one of his concerts - funny, thought provoking, a little sad, and sometimes, you'll have to go back & reread something to "get" it. If you are a true fan, you'll eat this up.

I am a big fan of Eddie Izzard so it is with heavy heart that I write this review. I could not get into this book. There was something about the way it was written that just didn't draw me in. I put the book/ebook down several times and tried to come back to it but it just didn't work for me. Thanks to First to Read for the ARC.

Izzard writes much like he does stand-up. You can hear his cadence in the way he writes and it's fun to imagine him giving this as a routine up on stage. I imagine it'll be fans that mostly flock to this book. I could see people not familiar with his work not being interested or turned off by the writing style. He does tend to ramble as they say. It has the feeling of someone giving you their history off the cuff, and he's spitting out the memories as they come to him. It can make for a wonderful exchange over coffee, but in a written format I did find myself from time to time wanting to skip ahead.

i love eddie as a comic and to be able to read his words, priceless. i'm a fan and this made me a bigger fan.

I'm not a big fan of memoirs or autobiographies. For the most part, I don't really care about anyone else's childhood memories, but this book is a memoir by one of my favorite comedians, so I had hopes for it. Unfortunately I didn't love it. Mr. Izzard has had a really interesting life and I admire his sincerity and willingness to share, but this book just isn't edited very well. I'm sure the author thinks that it is organized, but it isn't. His rambling works very well in his comedy act, but not in this book. The book covers his childhood, in which the most profound event was the death of his mother from cancer when he was six. "I loved that time—before Mum died. Everything after it was different, and not as good, as if it all happened in a different color." After her death he and his older brother were sent to boarding schools, but he maintained a close relationship with his father. Eddie describes himself, in both the book and his shows, as an "action transvestite" with a wish to express his feminine side. However, most often he refers to himself now as transgender, and about 20% of the book deals with how he handled being transgender and coming out to his family, friends and audiences. That part of the book might be of help to other transgender people, but mostly I think this book is for his fans. If you are familiar with Eddie Izzard's work you can hear his voice in your head as you read the book and some of it is amusing, but I don't know what anyone unfamiliar with him would make of this book. The book didn't need to be funny, but it shouldn't have been dull and repetitive. There were footnotes on almost every page which were distracting and awkward and mostly unnecessary. Unfortunately, I found much of the book boring, like the part about teaching himself to play the piano. He also has a tendency to treat readers like we are really dumb and explains too much, in footnotes or parentheticals, when the meaning of a term is perfectly clear from the context . The parts of the book that I liked best were those about his career. He's a standup comedian, actor, pilot and activist who ran 27 marathons in 27 days (including 2 marathons on a single day) for charity. He has a very positive outlook and his message in general is "do more than you think you can do". I'm sure I'd like him very much if I met him and I'm sorry that I didn't enjoy the book more. I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.

I was given a copy of "Believe Me" as part of Penguin Random House's "First to Read" program in exchange for an honest review. I really enjoyed this memoir by Eddie Izzard. I found it be genuine and well-balanced. Often times with memoirs I find that the author either includes too much tragedy or leaves it out all together. This work was a great representation of both ends of the spectrum. While it was at times quite serious, it also made sure to include a fair amount of levity, and obviously given the author it was well done. I appreciated the detailed look into his upbringing around Great Britain, and also how he explains the connections between his life experiences and his career. do think that it is somewhat important to familiarize oneself with Eddie Izzard's stand-up prior to reading the book. It makes it far more entertaining to be able to read the book in his voice than I imagine it would be if he was unknown to the reader. As someone who has always been interested in the world of stand-up comedy, I found this book to really hit the spot. It is a very hopeful read that, in the end, encourages us to be more tolerant of one another and more appreciative of what we are given in life. Definitely not a "feel good" book, but certainly one I would recommend to anyone.

As a British person living in Columbus,Ohio - I was "one of those people" - the British person who comes to see a British comedian in America fortunate to see Eddie live a couple of years ago after seeing a couple of clips on YouTube and of course hearing about his charity efforts in running an insane number of marathons in a few days. Reading the book is just like seeing some of Eddie's shows. The numerous footnotes throughout the book briefly sidetrack you down a couple of rabbit holes before being dumped back to the main storyline. This was interesting and entertaining but did make it slightly harder to read the flow of the book as you have to keep jumping around on the page to follow the thought process. There are several mentions of his previous works in the book so I now have a nice list of follow up books and videos to read and watch - some humour shows, a documentary and a couple of films. Incidentally a new film Whisky Galore is coming out soon (not to be confused with the previous Whisky Galore film in 1946 based on the same circumstance of a ship having it's 50,000 cases of whisky "rescued" Anyway, back to the review - (as Eddie would do), I really enjoyed the book and got a very detailed glimpse into his upbringing and the perseverance that he applied to get to where he is nowadays. The last few chapters are a challenge to treat each other as we would like to be treated ourselves - something that seems to be more and more important in this day and age. The book isn't all seriousness though - there were a lot of funny anecdotes and moments where I just had to read the last paragraph out to my wife. If you've not seen any of Eddie's shows, I would recommend seeing a couple of them on video before reading the book, as readers of the book who do not know who Eddie is would probably not get as much from the book as a person familiar with Eddie's work.

Fans of Eddie Izzard's comedy will recognize the mixture of serious philosophy and sentiment with irreverence and comical asides. Izzard does a brilliant job of recalling a childlike perspective when he tells the story of his upbringing in Northern Ireland and the tragic events surrounding his mother's early death. He has some serious writing chops and his journey of self-discovery is an interesting tale that should appeal across the board, but I can't say for sure if I would have cared about the book or remained interested as much as I did if I wasn't a fan of his other work in stand-up, acting and activism.

I did not know much about Eddie Izzard. In fact, the first time I was introduced to him was through his eccentric Mr. Kite singing For the Benefit of Mr. Kite in Across the Universe. He was brilliant in that role, and you could pick out his improvisations. It made him instantly likable. Believe Me is a rambling autobiography that runs the gamut of ideas and subjects rolling around Izzard's mind. But this is what makes the book so endearing. You feel as if you are sitting across from him, having a conversation. And within that conversation are many interesting tidbits that make up his journey, one with its share of pain and triumph.

Not all comedians manage to transform their humor into a funny book - especially not an autobiography. Eddie Izzard, however, does a great job in this book, and especially the many footnotes are a great source of entertainment through witty everyday observations and self-deprecating memories and thoughts. Before reading this book, I didn't know much about Izzard besides his being a successful standup comedian who dresses like a woman with high heels and makeup. In this book, the reader gets the background to him becoming a transvestite and becoming a comedian who also plays in serious roles. Not all parts of the book are equally funny or interesting - especially the chapters of his early career as a struggling street performer trying out various - unsuccessful - things in his performances with a bunch of people that we don't hear about again. I'm sure those early days were defining for Izzard as a performer, but he just doesn't manage to make them really interesting for others than diehard fans. The bottom line is that I enjoyed getting to know Eddie Izzard and I generally had a smile on my face while reading most of the book. I have read much funnier books than this - e.g. by Bill Bryson, so if you are just looking for a good laugh, this may not be the book to choose. But fans of Eddie Izzard will definitely get a kick out of this memoir and the look under his dress, so to speak...

I was excited when I saw this one offered on First to Read because I've long been a fan of Izzard's stand-up. His memoir is written in the same stream of consciousness style as his comedy, but it doesn't work nearly as well on the page as it does on stage; in print, it's rambling and repetitive, with no clear sense of a time-line. I do wonder if it would be better listening to him read it. Despite the style, it was a fairly interesting book and Izzard isn't given to bragging or name dropping; mostly, he wrote about his family and childhood, and how his success is the result of self-confidence and a lot of hard work.

Charming, vulnerable, human, humanitarian. Obviously quite funny, but as with his stand-up comedy, subtle. And I think anyone expecting an autobiography of such a complex man... um, transgender...to mimic his standup will be disappointed. It's a story of a life, and of how Mr. Izzard came to live that life. We see the polished performance, not the unsure starts and fits, and think he's a natural. He will tell you it is work. But work he loves. I've always admired his intelligence - performing his complete show in three (he's working on more!) languages? One line always makes me laugh: "You have no idea...(what I'm referring to)..." Izzard asked Robin Williams in 1997 if he thought his comedy would work in America and Williams said, "Yeah. With the smart people." Spot on, Robin.So this is not a George Carlin transcription made into a book ("flags" are mentioned in his marathon of marathons chapter, and "cake" is never opposed to death), a Bob Newhart deadpan autobiography that is hilarious on its own, a "Awesome Sh*t My Drill Sergeant Said" compilation. It's a story of a life ... so far. [If anyone associated with the publisher reads this, page 133 second line has a blatant typo: "lbuild" instead of build. There were a few others, but that's the only one I flagged.]

(I too thank you for the opportunity to read a pre-publication copy.) Some books have great opening lines. Some books have great closing lines. This book has a great opening chapter. The rest of it is pretty good too. It's a work in process. The process of losing your mum so young, so abruptly. The process of finding a protracted and painful way through muddled teenage years. The process of working out what you can do, what you want to do. The delightfully told story of becoming "Eddie Izzard", with progress and mishaps, lots of highs, lots of lows. And through it all, his extraordinary humanity, a fierce intelligence, his iron will and steely determination, and a constant testing, rethinking, remaking of being Eddie Izzard. A truly remarkable book by a truly remarkable human being.

I'm more familiar with Eddie Izzard as an actor than as a stand-up comedian, but I am familiar enough with his stand-up work to expect the loose, rambling style he employs. It was a little *too* loose to start out with--the first few chapters jump from memory to memory so often, and with so little through-line, that they are a bit difficult to read. It's distracting. The book becomes more cohesive as it goes, though, and the longer it went on the more I enjoyed it. It won't be much good to anyone who's expecting a humor book; this is emphatically not Eddie Izzard doing stand-up material in printed form, it's Eddie Izzard telling the story of his life. Like everybody's life story, sometimes it's amusing, and sometimes it isn't. He clearly wants to make the world a little better if he can, and he takes seriously the opportunity he has to attempt to inspire and motivate by example. The Good: Eddie Izzard is an interesting person, and the longer the book goes on, the more he finds his feet as a writer. (I got the distinct impression that when he started writing, he wasn't quite sure exactly what form he intended the book to take or what he intended to communicate, so he figured it out as he wrote. I don't mean that as a criticism. It worked out all right, ultimately.) The Bad: Sometimes bits that would probably work on stage don't work in writing (I wonder how these bits would fare in audiobook form?). The Upshot: It's a little uneven and a little slow to find its rhythm, but quite enjoyable overall. If he wrote another book, I'd look forward to reading it.

I've long been a fan of Eddie Izzard; his breaking-barriers comedy, and philanthropic marathon-running mark him out as an all-round good egg. I loved this memoir, particularly the section on his schooldays, - his recollections serve to underline that small boys and boarding school should never mix, especially when one is grieving the loss of a parent. I appreciate how open Eddie is in this memoir; many of the issues he writes about must not be not easy to examine and share. Highly recommended, although I agree with a fellow reviewer who said that the many footnotes detracted from the text. Often explaining 'British-isms', they really weren't necessary.

I have enjoyed watching movies and shows with Eddie Izzard in them. He has always had a sort of subtle sarcasm that I found enjoyable. Eddie Izzard was able to transmit that sense of humor and timing when telling the story of him. His life story was full of life, happy moments, sad moments, moments full of living. I would recommend this book for those that have enjoyed Eddie Izzard work and want to know more about him. As much as I enjoyed reading the book, the number of footnotes were distracting. Not only the number, but a few of them seem to take up a large portion of the page. There were side notes to the story, but also distracted from where I was in the story. Not bad enough to make me stop reading, but it did get a few eyerolls here and there.

I'm a huge fan of Izzard's rambling style of stand-up and I really enjoyed the fact that his writing is the same way. He tends to go off on weird little tangents that always turn out to be both revealing and slightly inspiring. It's not a comedy book. It's an honest telling of a funny man's quest to find his way; both as an entertainer and a transvestite. Each mutually exclusive, yet both apart of a man that constantly pushes himself towards bigger and better things. The message in the book is clear: work hard to get what you want, even if it takes you a long time, it just means that you developed the stamina to get thru the next phase. I've always been a fan of his stand-up, now I'm a fan of him as a human being.

I didn't know much about Eddie Izzard prior to reading this, other than seeing a couple of his stand- up specials & some interviews about the marathons for charity. He's a very funny guy in his shows, but he obviously takes writing his memoir very seriously. This should definitely be shelved in the "memoir/autobiography" category and not in the "humor" section because he talks about some very serious subject matter. I have not seen the documentary he mentions with the same title as this book, but I'm very interested in seeing it now. I got the impression that the book complements the documentary and gives more information about some of the scenes from the film. There are times when the book feels repetitive (we get it, Eddie, you're an atheist!) And he writes with his characteristic humor, but it's more serious than funny, really. He comes across as genuinely motivated to try and make the world a better place and leave it better than he found it. It's inspiring to read about his accomplishments at a time when most of us don't actively fight for what we believe in after a long day of being a cog in the machine of our life. There weren't as many laugh out loud moments as I had hoped, but I'm not really disappointed as I think he has a great message and hope readers will take it to heart.

I'm a big fan of Eddie Izzard -- as are most people I know! In the late 1990s/early-2000s, liking Eddie Izzard became a kind of litmus test for whether or not one could be friends with someone, and his career has only blossomed from there. He's smart, funny, talented, driven, and self-deprecating. He seems an overall amazing human being. That's why this book is a little bit difficult to review. Stylistically, it's written kind of how Izzard delivers his stand-up comedy: a bit rambly, but circling back to a point. It doesn't always work on paper, and it gets rather repetitive in a way that the spoken word does not. Especially because chapters are organized only loosely by chronology and sometimes repeat the same information between them. Most problematically, the books is just not particularly funny. Izzard is both a comedian and a dramatic actor, and there are some funny bits, but one would expect his memoirs to be more on the humorous side, I suppose. I very much enjoyed learning about Izzard's early life, and understanding the tragedy of his mother's early death and its fall-out certainly puts many things into perspective, but I would have appreciated slightly more introspection -- this is actually something that Izzard himself acknowledges, that he's not great at talking about his emotions on a deeper level.

I desperately wish I had the audiobook because as I read, I can hear Eddie Izzard's voice in my head. I mean that in the best possible way. While Eddie has mentioned his childhood and sexuality during his standup performances, he is more detailed here and as a result, more vulnerable and more intimate. It made me feel very cozy, as if we were sitting in a corner together, having milky coffee and maybe a biscuit.

I have read a lot of celeb autobiographies over the years and I was pleasantly surprised to find this wasn't the typical fluff piece. The book definitely has humorous stories throughout but for me the real strengths of the book are when Eddie writes about the death of his mother and deciding to live life openly as a transgender person. I couldn't help but tear up when he wrote about learning that his mother used to call him Edward. Given his strong work ethic, it is obvious that he put a lot of time and effort to be as openly candid as possible in the hopes of inspiring others. Thank you First To Read for sending me a free advanced digital copy of this book! I knew very little about Eddie prior to reading this book but I walked away with genuine respect for him as an entertainer and as a human being.

I received a digital advance reader edition of this book for free from firsttoread.com. Eddie Izzard’s memoirs are enchanting. He has welcomed us into his mind, made us a cuppa, and asked us to stay a while. Izzard opens his life to us with a graceful honesty that makes you ruminate on the innocence of childhood, the tragedy of those teenage years, and the contradiction of absolute freedom and societal restriction that is young adulthood alongside him. When he describes a moment, he does so in a manner that you experience first-hand, but also with the wisdom of age and hindsight. He does this in a way that does not take from the memory, merely sprinkles a touch of self-awareness into the stories. Izzard has given us a beautifully honest and entertaining glimpse into his life story. It is devoured easily in a single sitting and endlessly quotable. I hope you do spend a few hours of your life with this story and laugh, hurt, and grow alongside one of the best entertainers of our era. -A Bookish Girl

 


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