Tim Minchin: Dark Side
Show type: Edinburgh Fringe 2005
Winner of Director's Choice Award, Melbourne International Comedy Festival 2005.
Tim Minchin is such a brilliant virtuoso pianist, it would be a pleasure to simply listen to him play for an hour. Any incidental comedy, you could consider a bonus.
But, as it turns out, he's not only an immensely talented musician, he's also a bright, quirky and hugely entertaining comedian, too. It's the sort of all-round package of genius that could drive other comics furious with envy.
On the face of it, what he sets out to do can sound very ordinary; which makes the fact he creates something extraordinary all the more remarkable. How many disappointing student-grade hacks might tackle a comic song about an inflatable sex doll with painfully predictable results? Well, this unedifying topic is the subject of his second song, performed in a cocktail-lounge jazz style, and itís unexpectedly wonderful.
Minchin's main strength is that he writes proper songs, with heartfelt passion and based on sharp, intelligent observations. He puts his personal view of the world first and moulding the jokes around it, the same approach that makes a stand-up sharing their world view infinitely better than some cracker of old gags.
Combine this distinctive approach with lyrics written with a poetís imagery, vocabulary and rhythm and you have songs with a rare depth and texture. To call them simply comedy songs would be an insult; they are thoughtful songs that happen to be hilariously funny.
But this is not all he does, in a show that never loses its ability to surprise. Not only does he mix the musical styles, he mixes the comedic ones too. There's a bit of slapstick, a more straightforward stand-up routine about playing air instruments (the only point of the show that dips from the inspired to merely being "pretty good"), and a poem fabulously recited through Minchin's increasing mental instability.
In Dark Side, heís not afraid to confront his own frustrations and inadequacies ñ all for devastating comic effect, of course. Indeed, its good to hear that he has got inadequacies - for he's lacking absolutely nothing in the talent department, as even the most casual look at his fine work will attest. Impeccable stuff.