Composer, actor and pianist Tim Minchin lept into the British comedy scene in 2005, with his Perrier-best-newcomer-winning Edinburgh show Dark Side.
It was a show he had debuted at the Sydney Big Laugh Comedy Festival earlier that year, and performed to critical acclaim at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, where it won the Festival Directors' Award.
His follow-up show, So Rock, was nominated for the Barry award for the most outstanding show in his native Melbourne in 2006 before returning to Edinburgh. That year he also appeared at the Just For Laughs comedy festival in Montreal.
He performed his first show, Navel, in Australia in 2003 and was a Victoria state finalist in the Raw competition for new comedians the following year.
As an actor, he has played Amadeus in Peter Schaffer's play, and Hamlet, both for the Perth Theatre Company, and has appeared with the Australian Shakespeare Company.
Winner of the best music and variety act at the Chortle awards in 2009, 2010 and 2011, where his show with a full orchestra was also named best tour.
In 2010, he wrote the music for the Royal Shakespeare Company's adaptation of Roald Dahl's Matilda.
Tim Minchin Videos
Tim Minchin at the 2011 Montreal Just For Laughs festival
Hollywood’s Variety magazine last week named Tim Minchin as one of the top ten comics to watch – but this Montreal audience were clearly well ahead of that advice. Given the reception something like his awesome Pope Song gets, they’ve clearly been hitting YouTube. O nce there was a self-irony when he drolly announced he was about to embark on a ten-minute beat poem – now the audience know what it entails, the excitement’s genuine.
Both these pieces eloquently vocalise Minchin’s overarching theme; the folly of blind faith that leads to every wrong-headedness from the vacuous frippery of aura-reading to the serious evil of covering up child abuse. Although his rationalism scores instant points with like-minded audiences, it’s also comedy’s de facto stance – so empirical comedians need more than simply an urge to pillory the church or mock the feeble-minded beliefs of hippies to stand out.
This is where Minchin shines. Not only does he have a grand piano, rock-star charisma and considerable musical talent to make his point, but he approaches his writing with an intellectual vigour that makes all the difference between yelling ‘Fuck the Pope’ and telling us in precise, unarguable detail, why the pontiff should be violated and in which holy orifice…
In a similar vein to that witty, tricksy beat poem, Storm, is Thank You God, which effectively dismisses the belief in the power of prayer with a jaunty chorus. But not everything is so declamatory, he mocks his own rock-and-roll pretensions in his show-stopper Dark Side, and also plays with ideas that are just plain stupid. Conversely, he’s prepared to venture into areas that are decidedly uncomfortable, such as his frustrations with his baby, which have a real sense of edge and catharsis about them.
The stand-up between the songs is in similarly daring vein, and even seems to share the tempo of his epic musical compositions, with long, detailed build-ups evoking a certain felling before - bam! – the reveal, showing you’d been misdirected all along. It’s not laugh-a-minute but a complex, exciting emotional journey towards the safety of the punchline.
Master showman Minchin also knows it doesn’t always have to be laughs, and that’s never better demonstrated than in his well-deserved encore, the heartfelt Christmas song White Wine In The Sun. The soul might be a difficult concept for Minchin’s beloved science, but one thing’s for sure, if you’re not moved by this, you don’t have one.
Tim MinchinTim MInchin: Ready For This? Tim Minchin and Friends Mark Watson Makes the World Substantially Better
Series one of his radio show