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What do you think of when you hear the name Tim Minchin? A straggly ginger haired Australian comedian with a penchant for eyeliner and dislike for shoes? Minchin fell into comedy somewhat by accident and still thinks of himself as more of a musician than a comedian. His songs cover a wide range of subjects from religious fundamentalism, alternative therapies, his own life to blow up dolls. One thing for certain is that there is never going to be a dull moment during his performance as he brings some glitz and glamour to the stage.
The first song of the night was Ready For This, the opening to the show where Tim Minchin comes out to a fanfare or music and flashing lights. Dressed simply in black skinny jeans with handprints on the bum and a white shirt with his trademark heavy eye make up the crowd cheered him onto the stage.
Tim Minchin is well known for his atheism, love of Richard Dawkins, dislike of religious fundamentalism and love of rationality. The statistical terms of correlation and causation were then explained with the help of the ice cream van jingle Greensleeves, ice cream men and paedophilia. I don't think I will ever be able to hear an ice cream jingle again without giggling.
The second song was Prejudice.
So never under estimate
The power that language imparts
Sticks and stones may break your bones but words can break hearts
A couple of G's G's unless you've had to live it an R and an E Even I am careful with it An I and an N In the end it will only offend, Don't wanna have to spell it out again
Have you guessed what the word is yet? That's right, GINGER, the playground taunt of many. Don't mess with the G word unless you are a ginger yourself.
The next song "We Love Jesus" introduced some audience participation and we were soon singing along to the tune of "We Love Jesus" and "We Hate Fagots" in a send up of the disgusting Westboro Baptist Church. The song also made an important point about the power of communal singing and ritual, something which the Christians have got a stronghold on but something us atheists should learn how to harness.
The fourth song was The Good Book, for this song Tim dons a single boot so that he can tap along to his hillbilly type song about blindly following the Bible.
Next we had the love song to his wife entitled "If I Didn't Have You" which sends up the notion that there is just one special person out there that we are meant to meet. A great one for all of us singles out there who have given up hope of meeting that one special person out there, luckily there are millions of special people out there!
Moving on from his song about his wife he discusses feminism, poverty, and the environment in general in his song "Confessions In Three Movements" which explains that although he is an enlightened man he simply can't help loving boobs!
The last song from the first act was an old favourite "Canvas Bags" a song with a message attached and the title might give you a clue about what the message is. There were Tim Minchin canvas bags for sale at the interval too and if you bought a programme you got a free canvas bag to carry it home with you.
Minchin even manages to entertain us during the interval as his Interval Song played out over the loudspeakers while we all made our way to the bar.
The second half opened up with "Bears Don't Dig On Dancing" which campaigns for the rights of those poor bears you see on holiday being forced to dance for the tourists. Another one with audience participation but the weakest song in the show, stick to making us laugh and forget the politics, Tim!
A warning for reviewers everywhere as "The Song For Phil Daoust" rings out. Daoust is a Guardian reviewer who once gave Minchin a bad review and in tribute Tim has written a song in his name, a catchy little ditty where Minchin sets out his wishes for Daoust's future which includes the wish that one of his relatives catch fire! The song is hilarious and the fact that grim words are set to such a catchy and jaunty little tune just makes you want to laugh even harder.
Moving onto Storm, a nine minute beat box poem set to jazz music. This is an utterly incredible poem. Tim stood in front of the piano and recounted an encounter at a dinner party with a Sagittarian new age hippy called Storm, a vegetarian and believer of homeopathy and alternative therapies. Anyone who has listened to Tim Minchin will know that he is a fan of rationality and despite pleas from his wife not to argue a small crack appears in his "diplomacy dyke" and his "inner arsehole" is set free and he has a great rant about psychics, auras, homeopathy, spiritual healing and tea leaves, star signs and meridian lines and manages to promote scientific thinking in a hugely funny way. More than that he explains how wonderful life is as an atheist thanks to the advances in science. Storm has got to be my favourite moment from the show as in this poem he manages to sum up my own views on life and articulate them in a much better way than I ever could.
The final song of the night was "White Wine In The Sun" and this song takes on a completely different tone as Tim sings a lovely little ditty to his beautiful blue eyed daughter about all the things he loves about Christmas. Yes he hates the religious aspects and commercial aspects but still loves the day and I'm sure many of us will agree with the sentiments expressed. I'll admit I had a tear in my eye by the end of this song and it was a lovely way to end the show.
Tim Minchin is a genius, the thinking man or woman's comedian of choice. As well as making me laugh so hard that my face hurt his articulate and quick witted play on words explores the role of religion and science, sends up fundamentalists of all creeds and also manages to tap into our emotions as he describes his love for his wife and family. A workout for the grey matter as well as our emotions and laughter muscles. Minchin himself is a versatile performer, one minute he is playing his grand piano, the next the guitar and the next he is standing in front of the mike quoting Shakespeare. He has a fantastically expressive face too and I love the way he can go from being a shy and timid performer stuttering over his words to bouncing around crazy. There was a good level of audience participation too with good natured heckling going on, the atmosphere in the theatre was brilliant as the audience were clearly having loads of fun.
The Ready For This Tour runs from October to December 2009 and there are performances in many UK and Australian cities, see the website www.angry-feet.com for more details. The show is a night to remember so if you are able to buy tickets you will have a fantastic time.
My daughter Jodie is a massive Tim Minchin fan, well fan might be a bit of an understatement as her behaviour could be described as obsessive! She insisted that we hang around the theatre doors after the show was finished as he is known for coming out to meet the fans afterwards. We waited outside in the rain for about 15 minutes until most of the crowds had dispersed and then out he came! Minchin spent a few minutes with each fan chatting to them and signing programmes and canvas bags for people and happily posing to get his photo taken.
When it was our turn to meet the great man himself he recognised my daughter because of her distinctive name (the same name as his first crush) and the fact that she sends him endless messages on Twitter! He told the mini crowd about the messages they had exchanged on twitter before "morphing into a granddad" (my daughters words) and lecturing Jodie on how she had too much birthday money if she was able to buy so much of his merchandise at the show. He then signed her canvas bag and drew a picture of himself as an angel in her programme and signed that too, the angel was because she was only little (his words) so he was going to be good for her and not swear!
He also signed my ticket stub and told me I had a fantastic daughter before posing for photos with us. When it was time for us to go he gave Jodie a huge hug and kiss on the cheek which left her on cloud nine and it is all she has been talking about ever since. What a gentleman, you hear about stars who get too big for their boots and are dismissive to their fans but Minchin made each fan feel special by spending time with them all.
If you can't make it to the show then you can also buy the "Ready For This " DVD or audio CD on his website or from Amazon.co.uk so you can see what you are missing.