Often compared to Bill Bailey, solely by way of them both being musical comedians, Tim Minchin has honed his own style of show blending stand up with songs – purely by way of not knowing what else was out there.
In fact he says he was so terrified of the comparisons at first that he couldn’t watch Bailey’s act for years.
“We look a bit the same obviously, with the hair and beard, and we look a bit ugly like trolls,” Minchin says. “But the style of music we play is very different, as is the way we present ourselves. I’m perfectly happy with the comparison if it makes people come and check me out. I’m happy with what I’m doing and knowing I’m not on some sliding scale of Bailey-ness.”
Now living in London, he grew up in Perth, where he devoted his higher education to music. His career took off, he says, winning the Perrier award at the 2005 Edinburgh Festival.
“I do a very theatical show,” he says. “Basically, it’s a cabaret show, but I try to avoid that word, as it’s associated with out of work musical stars singing Andrew Lloyd Webber hits.
“I’m a pianist, I’ve been writing songs for many more years than I’ve been doing comedy so it’s just my own version of stand up. I’ve been writing songs since I was 12, and two out of every three would collapse into stupidity – I’m not very good at taking them seriously.”
Explaining his humour, he says: “A lot of comedians take stupid little things and make a big deal – I take big things and make a stupid deal. Not about muffins and annoying people on the bus, but racism, death and sex. It sounds boring but I’m obsessed with critical thinking, things like religion, and censorship.”
Which leads us nicely into the hot topic of the week – the controversy surrounding Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand, whom, with the big hair, eyeliner and black wardrobe, it cannot be helped but noticed bears a bit of a resemblence to Minchin, who is fit to burst with the media storm surrounding the whole incident.
“It’s nonsense,” Minchin spits. “This conservative moralising. This whole people with pitchforks thing, I can’t tell you how much it annoys me. I think Andrew Sachs himself should come out and say ‘I was a little upset but I didn’t expect all the morons in the country to get on their high horses’. That’s what he should do, for the sake of sanity.
“Because it just doesn’t matter. A comedian quoted out of context shouldn’t be published. What we do, if I can put myself in the echelons of Brand and Ross, is attempt to get away with things.
“If you take a certain joke I do and print it in the newspaper I’d be stoned in some small towns, but in the context of my stand up it makes a comment on our attitudes. Brand and Ross were just being numpties, but it’s our job as satirists is to stop people thinking inside that conservative box.”
Tim Minchin plays the Runcorn Brindley Theatre on Thursday, November 6.. His DVD, So F**cking Rock, Live, is released on November 10.