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5 Stars

It’s taken some time to get a proper London run out of Melbourne’s Tim Minchin since he left Edinburgh last summer as the highly deserving winner of Perrier’s Best Newcomer award. But it’s been worth the wait. This barefoot Sideshow Bob lookalike has only done stand-up for a couple of years but the marvellous collision of mirth and piano in this shoe places him as Victoria Wood’s darkly cerebral polar opposite.

Minchin has a CV that includes acting, bands, musical directorships and solo music work – and he is super at tinkling the ivories. As a songwriter, his strength lies in inventive detail and witty wordplay. Rock ‘n’ Roll Nerd – about a middle-class lad whose dangerless life robs his songs of depth – playfully hints at autobiography.

He also does a good line in mocking the music biz, religion and moneyed lefties. His delightful upbeat ditty, Anthem for Palestine, has lyrics to make you gasp. The hilariously egocentric Canvas Bags sees a rapping Minchin revel, arms outstretched, among disco lights and pre-recorded harmonies.

Rounding out the package is Minchin’s ability to keep the show tight. His playing is energetic, his between-song patter fun, low-key and brief. He even works a guitar and poetry into the show. Other comics will be writing their next Edinburgh shows now – here’s hoping Minchin has another in the (canvas) bag.

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