Tim Minchin: So Rock
Show type: Edinburgh Fringe 2006
2005 Perrier Best Newcomer Award. 2005 Festival Directors' Award, Melbourne Comedy Festival.
Warning: If you see Tim Minchin this year, his opening song will echo around you head for days, if not weeks.
Even though we now know this barefooted Australian maestro, thanks to the well-deserved hype and Perrier newcomer award, So Rock's anthemic title track is still astoundingly good, as good as musical comedy can ever hope to get. As he builds up the pounding riffs by miming each instrument in term, the anticipation builds. Then he lets loose with a fantastic song whose sharp lyrics expoe the gulf between his image all heavy eyeliner, wild mad-composer hair and long bohemian jacket and the calculated thinking behind it. It's possibly the only rock song to contain the deadpan line 'you have made an error during the booking process,' yet has the most adhesive chorus to bury the song deep in to your head.
It's a real showstopper. Which is unfortunate, as it's supposed to get the show going, not close it. Instead he ends, at least before the inevitable encore, with the rousing hymn to environmental issues Canvas Bags from last year's show. This wonderful parody of Bonoesque extravagant rock-star posing to push some worthy issue may be a 'greatest hit', but it's well worth repeating.
Between the two we have some more mightily impressive tracks, including a jaunty ragtime number, whose upbeat style is marvellously at odds with the morbidly depressing lyrics about his abject misery. Minchin can be disturbed, sick and inappropriate, but as long as it's set to great music, it's never really offensive.
A couple of tracks are ill served by their lyrics. One, about kids being too fat takes a long time to build up steam, and there's a segment where he delivers some troubled beat poetry in the spoken word style of someone like The Streets, that makes for a compelling soundscape, but isn't funny in the least.
However, with the tunes, there's always the fine, fine music and the virtuosity of the performance to give him some leeway, not that he always needs it. With stand-up, it's a less forgiving environment, and this still remains his Achilles' heel.
Routines about the bustle of London compared to his native Perth or car stickers are engaging enough but when you see how he handles a gag about illegal minicabs compared the much more efficient, harder-hitting way experienced hand Reginald D Hunter tells a similar joke, you can see how he's not yet up to speed. But he does engage in a surprising fruitful bit of audience banter, which suggests there's more to him than magnificent set pieces. One review last year, which clearly still rankles with Minchin, said that if you took away his grand piano you'd be left with a bog-standard stand-up. Which not only is unduly harsh, ignores the fact that the music is always going to a crucial part of Minchin's act.
While he might not have the novelty value of being the find of the festival this time around, Minchin remains a colossal talent with a fine sense of inappropriate humour and a walking example of how the Fringe can uncover bona fide stars.
Clair - 28/08/2006
Loved it, loved it, loved it. Tim Minchin has firmly planted himself amongst my favourite comedians with this show.
Janet Lewis - 28/08/2006
He sings brilliantly , he plays piano with a pasion, he writes insightful poetry, he does great stand up, he entertains completely , he is a genius. Thanks for a great night on sunday at Edinburgh, so glad you are moving to the UK
Yveonn - 26/08/2006
He's funny, a brilliany pianist and has a lovely singing voice too. In fact, I'd buy songs he sang without the comedy too if he sold them
Jane (Ireland) - 23/08/2006
The best show we saw by far! He is a lyrical genius! Laughed and laughed non stop and bought his CD afterwards and can't stop singing "I am so f**king rock" all day! He's fantastic
Alex Campbell - 20/08/2006
A fantastic show, Tim is a highly gifted musician and brings in many great themes. He talks sensitively about his family and this gives crediblitly that a lot of other acts dont offer. A must see
Rob - 16/08/2006
Absolutely astonishing that people don't find this guy funny. I saw him in London Feb '06 and he was pant-wettingly funny. But then, he's a little different. Not everyone's cup of java.
Jess - 15/08/2006
I saw him at the Gilded Balloon in Edinburgh. Best bit was the first song, 'I'm So **** Rock' - after that he was just misogynistic and offensive. Deeply disappointed
Jazmine Ropner - 11/08/2006
Absolutely amazing. He made my entire family laugh out loud. his facial expressions are just as funny as his songs. Tim is fantastic