Tim Minchin

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Timothy David Minchin AM (born 7 October 1975) is an Australian comedian, actor, writer, musician, and songwriter.

Born to Australian parents in Northampton, United Kingdom, and raised in Perth, Minchin attended the University of Western Australia (UWA) and the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA), before moving to Melbourne in 2002. He is best known for his musical comedy. He has released six CDs, five DVDs, and live comedy shows that he has performed internationally. He has appeared on television in Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. His show Darkside launched him into the public eye, achieving critical success at the 2005 Melbourne International Comedy Festival and the 2005 Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

Minchin has a background in theatre and has appeared in various stage productions, in addition to small acting roles on Australian television. A documentary film about Minchin, Rock N Roll Nerd (directed by Rhian Skirving), was released theatrically in 2008 and broadcast by ABC1 in 2009. He is the composer and lyricist of the Olivier Award-winning, Tony Award-winning and Grammy Award-nominated show Matilda the Musical and the Olivier Award-winning and Tony Award-nominated show Groundhog Day The Musical. In 2013, he played rock star Atticus Fetch on Californication and in 2019 he co-wrote and starred as Lucky Flynn in the TV series Upright.

In 2013, the University of Western Australia awarded Minchin an honorary Doctor of Letters degree for his contribution to the arts. In 2015, he was awarded a second honorary Doctor of Letters degree from the Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts. He was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia in the 2020 Australia Day honours.

Timothy David Minchin was born in Northampton on 7 October 1975, the son of Australian parents Ros and David Ellison Minchin. He holds both Australian and British citizenship, as everyone born in the UK before 1983 was automatically a citizen of the country. His father and grandfather were both surgeons in Perth. He is also descended from R. E. Minchin, founding director of Adelaide Zoo. Minchin returned to Australia with his parents and was raised in Perth, alongside his elder brother, Dan, and two younger sisters, Katie and Nel.

Minchin started learning piano at the age of eight, but gave it up after three years because he did not enjoy the discipline. He developed a renewed interest in the instrument after he started writing music with his brother Dan, a guitarist, but still describes himself as a "hack pianist ... a 'more you practise, the better you get' kind of guy". He was educated at Christ Church Grammar School, an independent school in Perth. He graduated from the University of Western Australia (UWA) in 1996 with a BA in English and theatre, and from the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts in 1998 with an Advanced Diploma in contemporary music.
Musical comedy

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." 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."

He draws on his background in theatre for his distinctive onstage appearance and persona. 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. 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."

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. 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". 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. His comedy also deals with taboos more broadly. A prime example of this is the song "Prejudice", which parodies the power awarded to something as simple as a word. In October 2010 he was made a Distinguished Supporter of the British Humanist Association.
Early career (1998–2007)

After graduating from WAAPA 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. He released a CD titled Sit with his band Timmy the Dog in 2001 but achieved little success. In 2002, after only one professional acting job, he moved from Perth to Melbourne to pursue work. Minchin struggled initially; he could not get an agent for a year and had been unable to find any acting work. 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.

Minchin says he entered into comedy "naively", having never even attended a live comedy gig before performing one himself. 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. Koren backed the show's run at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, where Minchin received the Perrier Comedy Award for Best Newcomer. 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.

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. 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)

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, despite his new show containing a song about a Guardian critic who once gave his show a negative review. Responding to the song, which contains graphic violence, the critic laconically remarked that he had not yet had time to listen to it: "Life's too short and I've already done my bit by sitting through that show in Edinburgh."

A live recording of this at Queen Elizabeth Hall in London, was released as an album for download via iTunes on 20 July 2009. An Australian recording was released in Australia on DVD on 9 September 2009, and then as a United Kingdom release in the second half of 2010.

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. A blog was launched to accompany the film-making process, and a short trailer was released on 8 January 2010. The full movie was launched on YouTube on 7 April 2011.

Minchin was the subject of the winning entry, by painter Sam Leach, in the 2010 Archibald Prize, Australia's most important portraiture competition.
Tim Minchin and the Heritage Orchestra (2010–2012)

Minchin embarked on a new arena tour called Tim Minchin and the Heritage Orchestra starting at the NIA, Birmingham on Wednesday 8 December 2010. A departure from the structure of his previous live shows, his act was scaled up to be performed with the Heritage Orchestra. It contained a mixture of material, including new songs on the subject of prayer and of rationality (themes which often appear in his previous work). Minchin stated that the aim of incorporating the orchestra into his act was 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.

The show also toured Australia under the title Tim Minchin vs. The Orchestras, where he performed with the city state orchestra in each location.
BACK tour and Apart Together album (2019–present)

On 30 August 2018, Minchin announced he would be returning to touring his musical comedy in a new tour called BACK, also billed as Old Songs, New Songs, Fuck You Songs. It marked the first time Minchin returned to touring since 2012 (with the exception of a micro tour of Los Angeles in October 2017 called Leaving LA).

The tour started in Adelaide, touring Australia and New Zealand in March and April 2019, followed by a tour of the UK in October and November 2019. The tour featured new comedic songs such as "Fuck This", "Leaving LA", and "If This Plane Goes Down", as well as songs from his recent musical works such as "When I Grow Up" from Matilda the Musical and "Seeing You" from Groundhog Day. The show also saw Tim reveal a new band that played alongside him for the rest of the night. This band played throughout the show, performing with Minchin for songs ranging from "Cheese" (first introduced in Tim Minchin and the Heritage Orchestra), "Prejudice" and new song "I'll Take Lonely Tonight" to a modified version of "If I Didn't Have You". A new song called "15 Minutes (of Shame)" was also performed with the live band.

An Encore tour of BACK began touring in Australia in March 2020, however dates were postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia. The tour resumed in Australia in June and July 2021, followed by a tour in the UK in October, November and December 2021.

In March 2020 it was announced that Minchin had signed a record deal with BMG and would release his debut studio album, Apart Together, in November 2020. Two songs from the album (also performed on the Back tour) have been released: "Leaving LA" and "I'll Take Lonely Tonight". In August, he released the third song ahead of the album's release, the titular "Apart Together".

Apart Together was released on 20 November 2020, with a streamed digital concert coinciding with the full album's debut. It received mixed to positive reviews from critics. The Independent called it "crisply observed and tenderly considered.", stating that "Minchin's unswerving commitment to all that good, decent, truthful stuff is irresistible." However, iNews referred to the album as nothing more than an "hour-long vanity project...Minchin obviously has things to say about the world but he hasn't really found the right way to say them", but also admitted that "There are glimmers of great humanity and honesty, small moments of beauty. Minchin excels when he tries less hard."
Television and radio

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

Minchin has appeared on several British radio and television shows, including the BBC's Never Mind the Buzzcocks (four times, once as guest host), BBC Radio 4's Mark Watson Makes the World Substantially Better, 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. 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. 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.

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. It aired at the start of 2011, forming E4's New Year's coverage.

On 8 May 2010, Minchin's musical sitcom pilot Strings was broadcast on BBC Radio 2; it was well received, but he decided against creating a full series.

In December 2011, Minchin performed a specially written song called "Woody Allen Jesus" 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: "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."

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

In 2013, Minchin played rock star Atticus Fetch in Californication.

In 2015 Minchin guest starred in the Australian comedy television series, No Activity.

In 2018, Minchin acted in Squinters, an ABC comedy.

In 2019, Minchin acted in and wrote Upright, a television series appearing on FOX Showcase in Australia and Sky Atlantic in the UK.

In 2020, Minchin performed the opening and closing songs for the BAFTA awards ceremony, which took place behind closed doors. The opening number was written specifically for the event. The latter was a version of his song "Carry You". The BBC received widespread condemnation for cutting the final song, which had been prerecorded, short for timing purposes.

In an interview with Forbes in August 2020, Minchin revealed that while living and working in Los Angeles, he had been pitched a semi-autobiographical sitcom. "There was a project that a writer pitched to Warner Bros., which was a vehicle for me along the lines of a Seinfeld, where there was a character called Tim, who was a musical comedian had moved to LA from London. He was a big star in London, but no one cared about him in LA."

Minchin's background is in theatre and he has appeared in various stage productions. He played the title role in 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. 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 television commercials. 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..

In 2008, Minchin was commissioned by the Royal Shakespeare Company to write the music and lyrics for Matilda the Musical, adapted by Dennis Kelly and based on the novel of the same name by Roald Dahl. It was revealed that Minchin had already tried to obtain permission from the Dahl estate to write a musical version of the book in the early 2000s for youth theatre in Australia. The director Matthew Warchus approached Minchin after seeing his Ready for This? tour and hearing his song White Wine in the Sun. The musical premiered at the Courtyard Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon, running from 9 November 2010 to 30 January 2011, and it began its West End run at the Cambridge Theatre on 25 October 2011 to great critical acclaim, winning a record-breaking 7 Laurence Olivier Awards including Best New Musical. In 2013, Matilda opened on Broadway at the Shubert Theatre, and earned 12 Tony Award nominations, winning 4. The musical has subsequently been presented worldwide winning numerous awards.

Minchin was cast in the role of Judas in the 2012 UK and Ireland arena tour of the Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar. 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 Autumn 2012. The filmed version, much to Minchin's annoyance, had his voice autotuned. The production toured Australia from May to July 2013, before returning to the UK and Ireland in Autumn 2013.

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

In 2015, it was announced he had teamed up again with the creative team from Matilda to write the music and lyrics for the new stage musical Groundhog Day. The musical had its premiere at The Old Vic in 2016, before transferring to the August Wilson Theatre on Broadway. Groundhog Day began previews in July 2016, with a scheduled run until 19 September 2016. The musical ran on Broadway from 16 March 2017 in previews, officially on 17 April 2017 and closed on 17 September 2017 after 176 performances and 31 previews. A planned US tour was later cancelled, however the musical is expected to return to London's West End.

On 23 April 2016, Minchin appeared in Shakespeare Live! From The RSC at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon (which was also broadcast live on BBC Two) celebrating the birthday and 400 years since the death of William Shakespeare. He appeared as himself in the 'To be, or not to be' sketch alongside Paapa Essiedu, Benedict Cumberbatch, Harriet Walter, David Tennant (who also hosted the event with Catherine Tate), Rory Kinnear, Ian McKellen, Judi Dench and Charles, Prince of Wales (who was in attendance with Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall).

In October 2017 during a Facebook Live Q&A with The Guardian discussing Matilda with Dennis Kelly, Minchin expressed interest in the idea of adapting the Neil Gaiman novel Stardust into a stage musical, but also revealed it's unlikely he would ever do a family musical again.

In response to a Twitter Q&A, Minchin revealed that he and a British playwright are currently in early development in writing a new musical, and will begin composing mid-2020. He also revealed that the musical is planned to open in Australia and will be a biographical story opposed to an original or adaptation.

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

In 2013, Minchin moved with his family to Los Angeles so that he could work on Larrikins, a planned Australian-themed animated musical film for DreamWorks Animation, which he wrote the songs for and was set to co-direct with Chris Miller. The film was set to have an all-star Australian voice cast, headed by Hugh Jackman. However, in March 2017, the project was cancelled, possibly in a decision by Comcast, who had bought DreamWorks Animation a year earlier. Minchin called the outcome "unbearable", noting that he had turned down many projects during those four years, and that "there were 120 people working on that film."

Minchin co-starred as Friar Tuck in the 2018 American film Robin Hood.

In 2021, it was announced that a feature film adaptation of Matilda the Musical will be released for Netflix, TriStar Pictures and Working Title Films, with Minchin writing additional music and songs.
Atheism and skepticism

During his 2009 interview for Australian Skeptics' podcast The Skeptic Zone, Minchin addressed his performance style as one that allows bringing up issues that can be upsetting or judgemental 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 ostracising homosexuals ... your defences are down when you're laughing as well and it's couched in music. All I'm doing is making things consumable that are otherwise difficult to consume."

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.

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.

When asked if he thought the universe is full of life, Minchin summarised: "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."

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."

In 2012, Minchin appeared in a video hosted on the homepage of the British Humanist Association, describing humanism as important "because having a non-superstitious worldview allows you to go about your own business, making ethical decisions based on a general desire to do the most possible good."

Protest songs
"Come Home (Cardinal Pell)"

In 2016, during the course of Australia's Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse Minchin wrote "Come Home (Cardinal Pell)", which criticized Cardinal George Pell. Launched on Channel Ten's The Project, it received wide publicity, but was highly controversial. Immediately after its debut, journalist Steve Price criticised the piece, describing it as "personal abuse" of Pell. Liam Viney described it as being a protest song and analysed its mechanics. Minchin later described it as "the most overt piece of activism I've done".

The royal commission had been called to investigate how institutions like schools, churches, and government organisations have responded to allegations and instances of child sexual abuse. When the royal commissioner granted the 74-year-old George Pell permission to appear as a witness via video link from Rome, rather than attend in person as he had previously done, Minchin wrote the song "Come Home (Cardinal Pell)". In response, a statement from Pell's office said the cardinal had led the battle against child abuse in the church for 20 years. Attorney General George Brandis told ABC TV that giving evidence by video was "not at all unusual".

The song helped fund journeys to Rome for victims of sex abuse so they could watch the cardinal deliver his evidence, with a GoFundMe account set up by The Project hosts Meshel Laurie and Gorgi Coghlan. The ABC 7.30 programme noted on 17 February 2016: "the song's going viral with almost 200,000 YouTube views" but "supporters of Cardinal Pell say it's verbal abuse set to music." Jesuit human rights lawyer Frank Brennan said it risked endangering the integrity of the royal commission. Conservative columnist Andrew Bolt described the song as a "hymn of hatred".

"Come Home (Cardinal Pell)" reached No. 11 on the Australian Singles Chart, for the week of 20 February 2016. Later, it was nominated for APRA's Song of the Year, and Kate Miller-Heidke performed the song at the APRA Music Awards ceremony.
"I Still Call Australia Homophobic"

During the Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey Minchin sang "I Still Call Australia Homophobic" – a re-work of Peter Allen's, "I Still Call Australia Home" – that refers to those supporting the "No" case as homophobic and "bigoted cunts". The Minchin video was shown on the ABC Insiders TV current affairs program. He was criticised by politicians Tony Abbott and Mitch Fifield.
Personal life

Minchin and his wife Sarah, whom he married in 2001 and with whom he has a daughter and a son, returned to Australia from Los Angeles in December 2017. They currently live in Sydney.

In 2013, the University of Western Australia awarded Minchin an honorary Doctor of Letters degree for his contribution to the arts, recognising his outstanding achievements and worldwide acclaim as a composer, lyricist, actor, writer, and comedian. In 2015, he was awarded a second honorary Doctor of Letters degree from Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts. He was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia in the 2020 Australia Day honours.