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HE APPEARS, looking like Edward Scissorhands – all Johnny Depp prettiness and ludicrous hair – and goes from nervous smile to manic breakdance in just under ten seconds. Then he goes to the piano and turns into the secret lovechild of Bill Bailey. Which is about as complimentary as I get to a comic at a keyboard. He plays like an angel, sings like the rock star he always wanted to be and has a devil of a sense of humour.

I have to write nice things, of course, as, in his opening song, he makes it quite clear he will do things to (to say nothing of in) my pot plants should I give him a bad review.

His songs range from the downright silly, through quirky, to genuinely, if weirdly, touching. He has something of an obsession with taking everything ad absurdum, which makes a few of his songs feel just slightly as if they are outstaying their welcome.

Much of his musical comedy plays with repetition and anticipation. But then he gets up to the mic and does a section of classic stand up about his father being a cancer specialist that is black and brilliant – and follows, a song later, with a section about his anger management therapy that reveals him to be a seriously, hilariously, impressive actor. He is also a terrific jazz performer and his Beat Poem is something I’d love to listen to again.

There cannot be an act ahead of us in Edinburgh that is this variegated. Minchin manages to be gently observational one minute, mordant and dark the next. He will sit barefoot at the piano and segue from something whimsical that sounds like it has been channelled through Boothby Graffoe to a number he introduces as being “about God and anal sex”.

Karen Koren, a woman with a serious eye for talent and a heart for encouraging it, discovered him ‘Down Under’. Minchin is an Aussie and this is his first gig in the UK. Dare I mention Perrier Best Newcomer this early in the Festival? I think I can. Koren has given him her biggest venue and a shiny white piano. He richly deserves it all. And more. This is an extraordinary performer.

(Kate Copstick – The Scotsman)

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