Malcolm Hay finds a star in the making at the Edinburgh Fringe
Take out a second mortgage, sell the car, and put the money on the safest bet you’ll ever make in this uncertain world: that Tim Minchin will be the next big thing in musical comedy. He’s a 29-year-old Australian who hadn’t appeared in the UK before he came to this year’s Edinurgh Fringe. In fact, he only took up comedy back home in Melbourne a couple of years ago. His solo show ‘Dark Side’ (at the Gilded Balloon), packed with so much energy and talent it’s bursting at the seams, should make Minchin a red-hot favoutire when the time comes for dishing out awards.
His sheer power and versatility as a pianist and singer are astounding. But it’s the fierce intelligence of his humour that makes Minchin so distinctive. It’s there, of course, in the lyrics – the Palestine Peace Anthem which offers a novel recipe for uniting Jews and Arabs, his song in praise of an inflatable doll, or the deeply sacreligious ‘Ten-Foot Cock and a Few Hundred Virgins’. It’s there, too, in the black comedy of his remarks between the songs. Minchin has lines that can bring tears to the eyes, although he undercuts even the faintest hint of sentimentality. This material is far too raw for mainstream television. But Minchin could take the show straight into the West End.
The Find of The Fringe
Looking like a cross between Struwwelpeter, the Cure’s Robert Smith and Hollywood’s idea of Mozart, Tim Minchin has come over from Australia to raise the roof at the Fringe. On piano, he has the fast-fingered grace of a prodigy. His lyrics are so sharp, they’d turn Sondheim green with envy. And what’s more, he’s very, very funny. He’s the find of the fest.
From the moment Minchin, furiously gyrating to thrashy warm-up music, tumbles off the stage, you know you’re in the presence of a comedy maestro. He brings his audience on-side within two shakes of his hairspray-saturated mane because he offsets musical assurance against an appealingly self-doubting persona, signalled in a wild-eyed look that is as scared as it is scary. Issuing hesitant, between-songs banter, this keyboard wizard looks most at ease when he retreats to his grand piano to hammer out dexterous ditties that alternate flippancy with deep feeling.
In Rock and Roll Nerd, a self-portrait in third person, Minchin pokes fun at the type of twentysomething who can’t give up on becoming Bono or Bowie; in Dark Side, he vents the frustration of a middle-class kid who had it too cushy to be uber-creative (“Daddy never came to my ballgame,” he wails).
Other songs broach the interminable nature of married life, offer a solution for the Arab-Israeli conflict, and issue an eco-rallying cry against plastic bags. There’s even a brilliant ballad to a blow-up doll. We’ll be hearing a lot more from this Antipodean wunderkind.
In the realm of music-comedy, it’s going to be Minchin’s year – but the competition is worth checking out, too.
Tim Minchin is very Australian (and very proud of it), multi-talented and immensely funny. His act is a cocktail of comedy songs, stand up, with a twist of poetry thrown in for good measure. He can be manic but he also displays a softer side to charm the audience.
Blessed with a strong, melodious voice, he sings and plays piano with real skill, intensity and energy. Song topics vary from the virtues of the inflatable doll to the middle class rock and roll nerd, and even includes a peace anthem for Palestine. His stand up routines take in subjects as diverse as Sydney transexuals to bottled water. The song Darkside provides the powerful finale and, as with the words of all his songs, is a clever and subtle use of language.
This is a superb, unpredictable, roller coaster ride of entertainment that will keep you laughing from first to last.
Hi guys. Another uncreative post. Me tired. Lots of meetings with producers and managers. All good.
Couple of bad reviews this week, which I won’t post because they’re bitchy and I like to pretend they don’t exist.
The good ones are now posted on the comedy review page.
My lady-friend, Sarah Minchin, arrives tomorrow. Ace.
I have a night off tonight. Really ace.
I hope you are all extremely well.
Hey. Still crook, but I think I’ll survive. I’ll just stop my farking whinging eh?
Couple more articles:
SCOTLAND ON SUNDAY FEATURE
You don’t have to read all this shit… it’s just so my mum knows want to tell her friends about.