Do we really need to do this to get people to donate to charities?

I have long been an admirer of Eddie Izzard,. She is one of the few stand up comedians whose shows I can watch in their entirety without it getting a little tedious after some point. I think it is because of the way she goes off on wildly imaginative tangents with a lot of physicality involved. (Izzard has recently said that she prefers she/her pronouns.) In addition to comedy, she is progressive in her politics and raises money for charities by running marathons. But not just a marathon here or there but a series of marathons in a short period of time.

For example. look at this series of runs. (I wrote about that feat back in 2017.)

She completed 43 marathons in 51 days for BBC Sport Relief in 2009, before running 27 marathons in 27 days across South Africa for the charity in 2016.

The most recent series of 32 marathon was over 31 days and that she completed just recently that culminated with a double marathon. It was a virtual one on a treadmill because of the covid-19 precautions. As if that was not enough, she followed up each day’s marathon with a comedy set at the end of the day. She raised $200,000 in the process.

The livestreamed runs, held across different virtual cities, are part of her Make Humanity Great Again goodwill initiative.

The comic’s day 24 run through a virtual Brussels, in conversation with Radio X DJ Chris Moyles, ended in dramatic fashion when gatecrashers attempted to enter the studio – threatening the Covid-secure bubble.

At the age of 57, she seems to be incredibly tough but I am not sure how good this is for her body. It would be terrible if she pushed it so much that she had a heart attack or did irreparable damage to her musculature. I have to wonder why people need other people to perform such feats of endurance in order to be persuaded to donate to charities. Presumably the charities are worthwhile for their own sakes.

I have sponsored people for charity runs, bike rides, and walks but those were for things that people could do fairly easily and were usually relaxed and fun group events. I would feel uneasy about encouraging people to push their bodies to such a limit that they risked some kind of serious injury. I prefer the kind of thing that Captain Tom Moore did. This 100-year old man in the UK decided to raise money for the National Health Service by doing laps around his backyard using his walker. His goal was modest, to raise about $1,500, but his action caught the imagination of the public and he ended up raising an incredible $45 million! For his efforts, he was knighted by the Queen and given a military promotion. He died last week of covid-19. He would have been eligible for the vaccine but could not be given it because he was being treated for pneumonia.

If you have never heard of Izzard, you have really missed out. Clips from her shows are available on YouTube and you can spend a very enjoyable time browsing through them. Here is one.

Izzard clips are like chocolates for me in that I cannot stop with watching just one, and got sucked into the rabbit hole. Here she is talking about the dressage event at the Olympics.

And here she is riffing on horror films.


  1. Jörg says


    I have to wonder why people need other people to perform such feats of endurance in order to get others to donate to charities. Presumably the charities are worthwhile for their own sakes.

    I think the two decisions, Izzard’s to run for charities, and ours to donate to those, or other charities, can and should ethically be decoupled. Izzard would run, whether you donate, or not. You can donate, whether Izzard runs, or not.

  2. sonofrojblake says

    “Izzard would run, whether you donate, or not”

    This. It’s been clear for many years that she’s got, to put it mildly, some stuff going on with self-challenging. For instance : “from 2014 she began to perform in German, Spanish, Russian, and Arabic, languages that she did not previously speak”. This is not normal behaviour. Its admirable that she turns her obsessions into money for charity, but don’t let’s anyone kid ourselves that that’s why she’s doing it.

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