Published Sep 21, 2014Those unfamiliar with Tim Minchin's work might feel the urge to draw comparisons to other artists. Syd Barrett meets Mark Russell? A cheekier Ben Folds? These are things that might run through the head of someone seeing him for the first time — and he would probably hate that. This is simply a part of seeing him perform live, because it's possible you've not seen anything like it.
Playing to a sizeable crowd at Toronto's Queen Elizabeth Theatre, it's obvious that Minchin is an exceptional talent. Even when he giggles and breaks while performing his songs (because damn it, what he does is hard), it's charming. He is classically trained, and foremost a songwriter, with impressive skills as a pianist and a downright beautiful singing voice. Those songs he plays just happen to be very clever and funny.
If he falls a bit flat, it's when he takes to the mic, strutting the stage barefooted while trying his hand at more traditional stand-up. There is some crowd work that feels unnecessary, and although his punch lines in this format are passable, it takes an awfully long walk to get there.
But this matters little to most in attendance, because Minchin's fans are legion. Between female shouts of "We love you Tim!" and the chortles of adolescent boys, Minchin is, in the world he's carved out for himself, a rock star. On this night, he tells us "Everything is going wrong!" as he retools the chugging smoke machine, and digs a fruit fly from his cabernet, but he knows it's not. His fans are happy, and for the most part, he delivers what they paid for with favourites that go from jaunty to dark to jaunty again. He happily provides versions of "Prejudice" ("Only a ginger can call a ginger a ginger…"), a pleasantly disturbing "Cont," (not to be confused with cunt) and a wonderfully childish "Confessions," on which he trumpets the achievements of feminism while admitting, after a pause, "Fuck, I love boobs though…"
As the show concluded, it became obvious why there are so many young ones in the audience. The music of Tim Minchin will be remembered by these fans as something shared with friends, listened to at camp or in your best friend's bedroom. That youthfulness permeates his comedy, and is why Tim Minchin's comedy continues to draw fans that quickly become fans for life.