Speaking from his adopted hometown of London, musical comedian and self-described ‘rock’n’roll nerd’ Tim Minchin recently mused to Sydney Star observer about his steadily growing popularity back in his home country, ahead of a return visit next month.
“One of the really cool things about my career is I seem to have been able to keep England and Australia in parallel. A lot of comedians are more successful in one region than another, but I’ve somehow managed to sustain a career in both countries.
“I seem to have reached a point where people want to come and see me in these ridiculous big rooms, which is great.”
A homecoming tour that takes in grand theatres like the Palais in Melbourne and the State Theatre in Sydney seems a long way from Minchin’s origins playing at Melbourne’s intimate Butterfly Club, but he said his brand of kamikaze cabaret was always meant for a big stage.
“My show works well in big rooms, because it’s got an ostentatious, mock’n’roll vibe to it. It’s a big-arse concert, with lights, pyros and rock posturing.”
The tour is an encore run of Ready For This?, the sold-out show he toured earlier this year.
As fellow musical comedians like Flight of the Conchords would attest, a funny song seems to have more longevity than a funny joke.
“I do tend to get a lot of repeat business — audiences seem to enjoy hearing my songs more than once. The songs are pretty text-heavy, so I think there’s enough there for people to enjoy it on a second or third listen.”
The Australian tour comes in the midst of Minchin’s work on an exciting new project: co-writing a musical adaptation of Roald Dahl’s classic children’s book Matilda, set to premiere in London next year.
“It’s pretty amazing for me, because the reason I’m in this industry at all is because of writing songs for youth theatre — that’s how I got my start,” he enthused.
“We open as the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Christmas show. We’re booked for 12 weeks so far, but there’ll be a lot of disappointed bunnies if it stops there. It’s such a timeless, legendary story. In that Roald Dahl way, it’s kind of effortlessly drawn, but very dark at the same time — she was beaten, her family locked her in a closet, she murdered her dad… the challenge is to turn it into a musical while not sacrificing any of the dark humour.”
Was part of his reason for taking on the challenge so that he could produce something his two young children could see? After all, Minchin’s own show is a touch adult for your average toddler.
“I hadn’t thought of that, I’m too self-involved,” he quipped. “But I do sing the songs I’ve written for Matilda to my daughter, and she dances along to them. It’s very handy having my own little test audience at home.”