Interview with Tim Minchin

tim-minchen-lisa1Tim Minchin is a comedian, actor, composer, songwriter, pianist, musical director and a self confessed Rock n Roll Nerd. He has sold out gigs at the Sydney Opera House, won awards at every major comedy festival including the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Just for Laughs Festival- Montreal and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival where he won the Perrier Award for Best Newcomer in 2005.

I was fortunate to meet him in Melbourne in 2007 when we performed at the Late Night Cabaret. Tim says we have a history, am not sure what that means, but am happy to interview him for his new Brisbane Comedy Festival show.- Lisa Lamb

When did you stop wearing shoes on stage?
Well I wore bare feet to uni because I was a bit of a hippie, then started doing comedy gigs at The Butterfly Club in Melbourne. I’d have a list of songs and things to talk about taped to my piano, have three glasses of wine, then take my shoes off to relax. So now I’m in the habit of not wearing them. When I do corperate gigs and wear shoes, it becomes a completely different show, much less relaxed. So much of comedy is about status, the piano is high status and wearing no shoes offsets that, making it low status. Which is good for comedy.

Is the Butterfly Club where the Butterfly Effect began?

Maybe, if I click my feet together, an African child dies.
Tell me about the Dancing Bears competition?

I wrote Bears Don’t Dig on Dancing for a charity gig about animal issues, and have included it in my shows ever since. So now I am running a competition for people who always dreamed of dressing up like a bear and featuring in a music video, that an unpredictable number of people will watch. I guess I’m just interested in dancing and how we express ourselves when we are white, middle class and quite lucky, yet people get so involved in one issue like starving children in Africa.
Is this because you clicked your feet & the African child died?

Yeah, I know I’m responsible (smiles) So I’m half talking about an issue and half making fun.
That’s why I wrote Canvas Bags too, great issue but people get a bit fanatical.
You have been touring extensively. What has been your most memorable show?

I had a really good show in New Zealand on Friday night, the show went off on a tangent about cheetah and zebra costumes. My shows tend to be very theatrical, due to my background and reasonably structured, so when the improvisation works, it’s a fantastic moment which really stands out for me. Consistency is important to me, especially when doing a two hour show each night. I may not feel funny that night but it doesn’t mean the show won’t be funny.
You pull some very funny faces during your show, like when you swear in “Hello” then do the sweet, innocent face, is this rehearsed or did you study mime?

No, I didn’t study comedy, so I have no sense of technique. I just decided to wear makeup and do my hair like a rock star and the rest just developed. I didn’t even study piano! Well I had a few lessons as a child, then I just pissed around. I find the less I study the better I am, I have to find my own way.
But you did go to the Perth Conservatorium of Music?

I was twenty at the time, I’d already written four or five scores for theatre shows, but I couldn’t read music. So I thought I’d go get some formal training, I went there for two years and still can’t read music. I’m also not very good at practising, most of my piano playing came out of writing. The hardest song I ever wrote was the Palestine Peace Anthem, because I wanted a classical sound so I had to practise it again and again. I usually write in a blues scale.
What inspired you to write Inflatable You?

I was playing with my doll at the time and thought, this would make a great song. Ha ha.
No, not really, I wrote that every early in my career, it’s actually a send up of Embraceable You. I find all my love songs have a dark side, that kind of undoes a million other love songs, such as You grew on me…like a tumour. I love the way after fifteen years of marriage, this guy just keeps digging himself a bigger hole. So much of what is written doesn’t say anything like I love you like the flowers, so I decided to either become a genius or take the piss and I’m not a genius.

That depends who you ask. You have appeared on the same bill as Mariah Carey & Westlife at the Royal Albert Hall, didn’t that seem a bit strange?

Yes, I did that very early in my career, I saw Mariah but never spoke to her. She had an entourage of bodyguards protecting her from me. Maybe she thought I was going to fornicate with her during intermission, I would have too if she didn’t have all those body guards. Ha Ha. It’s a great life she has- American Star! I want to break into America, when I find time, maybe next year.
Tim Minchin performs in Ready For This

Brisbane Comedy Festival
The Powerhouse
Wed 18th – Sun 22nd March 9-30pm

Gold Coast Arts Centre
Sun 15th March 5pm

The Big Joke Comedy Festival
Bangalow 8pm
Sat 28 March