Tim Minchin

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Tim Minchin
Tim Minchin singing.jpg
Birth name Timothy David Minchin
Born (1975-10-07) 7 October 1975 (age 39)
Northampton, England[1]
Nationality Australian
Years active Since 2002
Genres Comedy music
Spouse Sarah Minchin (m. 2001; 2 children)
Website timminchin.com
from the BBC programme Desert Island Discs, 6 May 2012[2]

Timothy David "Tim" Minchin[3][4] (born 7 October 1975)[1] is a British-born Australian[5] comedian, actor, and musician.

Minchin is best known for his musical comedy, including six CDs, three DVDs, and a number of live comedy shows that he has performed internationally. He has appeared on television in Australia, Britain, and the United States. After growing up in Perth, Western Australia, he attended the University of Western Australia (UWA) and the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA), before moving to Melbourne in 2002. His breakout show Darkside launched him into the public eye, achieving critical success at the 2005 Melbourne International Comedy Festival and the 2005 Edinburgh Festival Fringe.[6] In 2013, Minchin played the role of rock star Atticus Fetch on Showtime's Californication.

Minchin has a background in theatre and has appeared in various stage productions, in addition to some small acting roles on Australian TV. A documentary film about Minchin, Rock N Roll Nerd (directed by Rhian Skirving), was released theatrically in 2008[7] and broadcast by ABC1 in 2009.[8] He is the composer and lyricist of the Olivier Award-winning and Tony Award-winning show Matilda the Musical, based on the Roald Dahl book Matilda.

In 2013, UWA awarded Minchin the honorary degree of Doctor of Letters for his contribution to the arts, recognizing his outstanding achievements and worldwide acclaim as a leading composer, lyricist, actor, writer, and comedian.[4]

Personal life[edit]

Minchin was born in Northampton, England to Australian parents[1] and raised in Perth, Western Australia.[9] His father was a surgeon.[10] He was educated at the private Christ Church Grammar School and started learning piano at the age of eight, but gave it up after three years because he did not enjoy the discipline. He redeveloped an interest in the instrument after he started writing music with his brother Dan Minchin, a guitarist, but still describes himself as a "hack pianist... a 'more you practice, the better you get' kind of guy".[11] Minchin graduated from UWA in 1996[12] with a Bachelor of Arts in English and Theatre, and in 1998 completed an Advanced Diploma in Contemporary Music at WAAPA.[13] In 2013, he was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Letters from UWA.[14]

He currently lives in Los Angeles[15] with his wife, Sarah.[16] They have two children: a daughter, Violet, and a son, Caspar.[17] Minchin often refers to his relationships in his songs and stand-up routines.

Musical comedy[edit]

Minchin playing the piano on stage

Minchin describes his act as a "funny cabaret show" and sees himself primarily as a musician and songwriter as opposed to a comedian; he has said that his songs "just happen to be funny."[18] His reasoning for combining the disciplines of music and comedy was revealed in one interview when he said: "I'm a good musician for a comedian and I'm a good comedian for a musician but if I had to do any of them in isolation I dunno."[19]

He draws on his background in theatre for his distinctive onstage appearance and persona.[9] In his performances, he typically goes barefoot with wild hair and heavy eye makeup, which is juxtaposed with a crisp suit and tails, and a grand piano. According to Minchin, he likes going barefoot in his shows because it makes him feel more comfortable. He considers the eye makeup important because while he is playing the piano he is not able to use his arms and relies on his face for expressions and gestures; the eyeliner makes his features more distinguishable for the audience.[11] He has said that much of his look and persona is about "treading that line between mocking yourself and wanting to be an iconic figure. Mocking the ridiculousness and completely unrealistic dream of being an iconic figure."[20] The eccentric appearance removes Minchin from reality somewhat, allowing him to make outrageous statements onstage "without annoying (most) people."[21]

The shows consist largely of Minchin's comedic songs and poetry, with subjects including social satire, inflatable dolls, sex fetishes, and his own failed rock star ambitions. In between songs, he performs short stand-up routines.[18] Several of his songs deal with religion, a subject with which Minchin—an atheist and a fan of Richard Dawkins—says he is "a bit obsessed".[22] He argues that, as one of the most powerful and influential forces in the world, religion should never be off-limits to satirists. He says that his favourite song to perform is "Peace Anthem for Palestine", which reflects his feelings about religious conflict.[23] In October 2010, he was made a Distinguished Supporter of the British Humanist Association. His comedy also deals with taboos more broadly.[24] A prime example of this is the song "Prejudice", which parodies the power awarded to something as simple as a word.

Early career (1998–2007)[edit]

After completing an Advanced Diploma in Contemporary Music in 1998, Minchin started out composing music for documentaries and theatre. In 2000, he wrote and starred in the musical Pop at the Blue Room Theatre in Perth.[25] He released a CD titled Sit with his band Timmy the Dog in 2001, but achieved little success.[26] In 2002, after only one professional acting job, he moved from Perth to Melbourne to pursue work.[27] Minchin struggled initially; he could not get an agent for a year and had been unable to find any acting work.[26] While several record companies gave him positive feedback, they were not sure how his music—a mixture of satirical songs and more serious pop songs—could be marketed. He decided to compile all of his humorous songs into a single live show to "get the comedy stuff off my chest" before going back to more serious music.[28]

Minchin says he entered into comedy "naively", having never even attended a live comedy gig before performing one himself.[22] His break-out show Darkside (co-produced by Laughing Stock Productions) achieved critical success at the 2005 Melbourne International Comedy Festival, where it won the inaugural Festival Directors' Award and attracted the notice of Karen Koren, the manager of the well-known Gilded Balloon venues.[29] Koren backed the show's run at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, where Minchin received the Perrier Comedy Award for Best Newcomer.[9][30] His 2006 show So Rock was nominated for the Melbourne International Comedy Festival's top prize, the Barry Award, and in 2007 he was given the award for Best Alternative Comedian at the HBO US Comedy Arts Festival.[18][31]

Live recordings of his 2005 and 2006 shows, Darkside and So Rock, have been released as CDs. In 2007, he released a DVD titled So Live, featuring a live recording in the Sydney Opera House Studio with material from both of his previous shows.[20] As this DVD was only released in Australia, he released a DVD in 2008 entitled So F**king Rock Live in the UK, containing largely the same material as So Live.

Ready for This? (2008–2010)[edit]

In August 2008, Minchin debuted his third solo show, Ready for This?, at the Edinburgh Fringe and subsequently took it on tour across the UK. During the Edinburgh run, he contributed to The Guardian newspaper's podcasts,[32] despite his new show containing a song about a Guardian critic who once gave his show a negative review.[33][34]

A recording of this show, recorded live at Queen Elizabeth Hall in London, was released as an album for download via iTunes on 20 July 2009. An Australian recording was released solely in Australia on DVD on 9 September 2009[35] and a UK release in the second half of 2010.[36]

In December 2009, the track "White Wine in the Sun" was released as a downloadable single online. Fans on Minchin's official forum launched a campaign to get this festive track into the UK Christmas charts by purchasing it from various online download retailers.[37] A Facebook group was also launched to support the campaign[38] as well as a drive on Twitter in which celebrities were contacted about the campaign and a succession of e-mails to radio DJs in a bid to get them to play the song. It was later announced that 50% of the December profits from the song would be donated to The National Autistic Society.[39] The bid was ultimately unsuccessful.[40]

It was announced at the end of 2009 that one of Minchin's beat poems, "Storm", was to be made into a short animated movie to be released in 2010.[dated info][41] A blog was launched to accompany the film-making process and a short trailer was released on 8 January 2010.[42] The full movie was launched on YouTube on 7 April 2011.[43]

He performed Ready for This? for what he envisaged as the final time on 27 February 2010 in Sydney.[44] However, he did perform a set at The Big Libel Gig on 14 March 2010 in protest at Britain's libel laws, along with other performers including Dara Ó Briain, Marcus Brigstocke, Shappi Khorsandi, Robin Ince, and Ed Byrne. As well as this, he performed at Camp Bestival as part of the Jestival Sessions in July 2010.[45]

Minchin was the subject of the winning entry in the 2010 Archibald Prize, Australia's most important portraiture competition. The winning entry was painted by Sam Leach.[46][47]

Tim Minchin and the Heritage Orchestra (2010–2011)[edit]

Minchin embarked on a new arena tour starting with Birmingham on Wednesday 8 December 2010. A departure from the structure of his previous live shows, his act has been scaled up to be performed with the Heritage Orchestra. It contains a mixture of material, including new songs on the subject of prayer and of rationality (themes which often appear in his previous work). Minchin has stated that the aim of incorporating the orchestra into his act is to create a comedy show that would not be ruined by being performed in arenas, as stated in the special features of the DVD and Blu-ray. The show toured the UK and Australia, and was filmed at the Royal Albert Hall in London for a Blu-ray and DVD that was released in November 2011.[48]

Television and radio[edit]

Tim Minchin has made appearances on Australian TV shows, including the ABC's Spicks and Specks[49] and The Sideshow.[50] He has also made appearances on Network Ten's panel shows Good News Week (February 2010)[51] and Talkin' 'Bout Your Generation (March 2010).[52]

Minchin has also appeared on various British radio and television shows, including the BBC's Never Mind the Buzzcocks (four times, once as guest host),[53] BBC Radio 4's Mark Watson Makes the World Substantially Better,[54] and two specials on BBC Radio 2. He often performs on his TV appearances, such as his spots on Friday Night with Jonathan Ross in October 2009 and July 2010.[55] He performed a specially-written song entitled "Five Poofs and Two Pianos", a parody of the show's house band, 4 Poofs and a Piano. Minchin also appeared as a special guest on the 2009 edition of The Big Fat Quiz of the Year, performing a song written for the show ("It's Like 1984") in reference to a question regarding Google Street View.[56] On Saturday 13 August 2011, Minchin hosted Prom 40: the first BBC Comedy Promenade Concert at the Royal Albert Hall. He appeared on Desert Island Discs on 6 May 2012.[57]

A heavily cut-down version of the show released on DVD as So F**king Rock Live has aired several times on British TV channel E4, first on 23 July 2009.[58] It aired at the turn of 2011, forming E4's New Year's coverage.[59]

On 8 May 2010, Minchin's musical sitcom pilot Strings was broadcast on BBC Radio 2. Minchin plays the protagonist Jonny, who leaves Australia to live in the UK.[60] Well received as it was by Radio 2, he decided against creating a full series.[61]

In January 2011, Minchin made his American television debut on TBS's Conan, where he performed "Inflatable You".[62] On 12 May 2011, he performed "If I Didn't Have You" on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, and on 7 June 2011 Minchin made his second appearance on Conan, singing "Prejudice".[63] Minchin made his third appearance on Conan on 9 April 2012, singing his "3-Minute Song".

In September 2011, Minchin appeared on The Green Room with Paul Provenza with guests Jimmy Carr, Judah Friedlander, Chris Hardwick, and Eddie Izzard.

In December 2011, Minchin performed a specially written song called "Woody Allen Jesus"[64] on The Jonathan Ross Show. However, despite the show's producers and ITV's lawyers approving the composition for broadcast, it was removed at the last minute. Responding on his blog, Minchin stated:[65] "[…] Someone got nervous and sent the tape to ITV's director of television, Peter Fincham. And Peter Fincham demanded that I be cut from the show. He did this because he's scared of the ranty, shit-stirring, right-wing press, and of the small minority of Brits who believe they have a right to go through life protected from anything that challenges them in any way."[66]

In August 2012, Minchin appeared on Chain Reaction, first being interviewed by Derren Brown, and later interviewing Caitlin Moran.[67]

In January 2013, Minchin made the first of several appearances as a guest star on the Showtime series Californication as the fictional rock star Atticus Fetch.

On 2 October 2014, Minchin appeared on the Comedy Central show @midnight and subsequently won the gameshow, after host Chris Hardwick decided not to eliminate him before the final round.

Acting and theatre[edit]

Minchin's background is in theatre and he has appeared in various stage productions. He played the title role for the 2006 Perth Theatre Company production of Amadeus, a fictional play about the downfall of Mozart at the hands of the reigning court composer, a character based on and named after Antonio Salieri.[26] His other stage acting roles have included the title role in the 2004 Perth Theatre Company / Hoopla production of Hamlet, and The Writer in the original PTC production of Reg Cribb's The Return. He has also acted for The Australian Shakespeare Company (Twelfth Night), the Black Swan Theatre Company (Così, One Destiny), and in various other plays, short films, and TVCs. Roles from his days in musical theatre include Don Quixote in Man of La Mancha and Pontius Pilate (and understudying Judas Iscariot twice) in Jesus Christ Superstar. He has also appeared playing small parts on the ABC telemovie Loot and on the show Comedy Inc..[68]

Minchin also plays the role of Tom in the contemporary family drama Two Fists, One Heart,[69] released 19 March 2009.[70] He also wrote the song "Drowned" for the film's soundtrack.[71]

He co-wrote Matilda the Musical—an Olivier Award-winning musical version of Roald Dahl's novel Matilda—with Dennis Kelly and the Royal Shakespeare Company, which is produced by the RSC. It showed at the Courtyard Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon, running from 9 November 2010 to 30 January 2011,[72] and it began its West End run at the Cambridge Theatre on 25 October 2011 to great critical acclaim.[73][74] In 2013, Matilda opened on Broadway at the Shubert Theatre,[75] and earned 12 Tony Award nominations.[76]

Minchin was cast in the role of Judas in the 2012 UK and Ireland arena tour of the musical Jesus Christ Superstar.[77] The tour extended into various other countries due to popular demand, with Minchin reprising the role in the world, with a filmed version being released in Spring 2013. The filmed version, much to Minchin's annoyance, had his voice autotuned.[78] The production toured Australia from May to July 2013.

Minchin made his Sydney Theatre Company debut in 2013 in Tom Stoppard's Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead alongside Toby Schmitz.

Atheism and skepticism[edit]

During his 2009 interview for Australian Skeptics' podcast The Skeptic Zone, Tim addressed his performance style as one that allows bringing up issues that can be upsetting or judgmental to others, such as the "moral hypocrisy about the idea that the bible is perfect, the only place that you need to go to for your moral guidance...and about, obviously, prejudice in the church, its role in ostracizing homosexuals...your defenses are down when you're laughing as well and its couched in music. All I'm doing is making things consumable that are otherwise difficult to consume."[79]

As the son and grandson of medical surgeons, Minchin addressed "alternative medicine" claims by relating that unbiased tests for efficacy are the key:

You're in such a strong position when you understand the scientific process because all you say is, "Do you understand that the great breakthrough of humanity was figuring out how to make decisions about things whilst discarding human foibles? So, anecdotal evidence involves all your subjectivity—if we do it like this we don't have that anymore. Why, surely do you understand how powerful that is?" And if they don't, then that's what you have to explain to them. It's an extremely powerful thing and a very basic thing.[79]

Minchin further explained his skeptical outlook:

I've always been an atheist; I've always been an empiricist really. I've never believed in ghosts or psychics or anything like that 'cause it's quite simple—you don't have to know much to go, "Really?" Or, to just apply Occam's Razor, to go, "Is it more likely that souls do circus tricks, or more likely that they're talking to dead people? And if the latter, by what process? What do you mean talking to dead people? Aren't their voice boxes rotten? So without a voice box, how do they talk, and by what means?" It doesn't take much to be skeptical about that. But really understanding, as I'm still learning, why science is powerful, is a new step towards being boring at dinner parties.[79]

Lastly, when asked if he thought the universe is full of life, Minchin summarized: "the chances of this happening might be one in infinity. Put it this way, the chance that there being intelligent alien life are, for me, infinitely higher than the chance there being a creator god."[79]

In an interview with Independent Investigations Group member John Rael, Minchin explains that what upsets him most about paranormal beliefs is "special pleading" by people who say vague things such as "there is no harm in it". Minchin states that there is very little harm in something like reiki, but asks "where do you draw the line?" when it comes to needing real evidence if a therapy works or not. He states that he is an atheist as well as a skeptic, and cannot understand how someone can be a skeptic and still be religious. "If you apply doubt to anything...the whole religion thing is obviously a fantasy."[80]

In his beat poem "Storm", which centres on Minchin having an argument with a "hippie" who believes in various New Age alternatives in lieu of actual medicine, he states: "Science adjusts its views based on what's observed. Faith is the denial of observation, so that belief can be preserved."[81]

Discography[edit]

Albums[edit]

  • Sit (with band Timmy the Dog) (2001)
  • Darkside (2005)
  • So Rock (2006)
  • Ready for This? (2009)
  • Live at the O2 (2010)
  • Tim Minchin and The Heritage Orchestra (2011)
  • So Fucking Rock (2013) (adapted from the 2008 DVD So Fucking Rock Live)

Singles[edit]

Compilations[edit]

  • Laugh-a-poolooza (featured artist) (2005)
  • "So Long (As We Are Together)" Californication Season 6 Soundtrack (2013)

DVD[edit]

Filmography[edit]

Actor[edit]

Literature[edit]

Author[edit]

  • 2014 – Storm[88]

Stage[edit]

Actor[edit]

Writer[edit]

Awards[edit]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]