Comedy review: Tim Minchin, Playhouse Theatre, Edinburgh

On Tuesday night Tim Minchin returned to Edinburgh, the city that arguably launched the multi-talented performer as a comedian. It’s been eight years since his last UK tour and he has experienced considerable triumphs and disasters in the interim, but he’s retained the philosophical magnanimity that sets him apart from most musical comics and their more throwaway repertoire.

Tim Minchin PIC: Cole Wilson/The New York Times
Tim Minchin PIC: Cole Wilson/The New York Times

A Rock n Roll Nerd to his core, his beat poem Mitsubishi Colt, about being condescended to as a struggling performer, has evolved tremendous irony since his commercial success in musical theatre, particularly with Matilda The Musical. Yet the Australian has held on to his insecurities, self-loathing and perspective.

Tim Minchin, Playhouse Theatre, Edinburgh ****

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Following the million dollar collapse of his animated film Larrikins, which was originally slated for a 2018 release with Dreamworks Animation, he vented with the bittersweet frustration of Leaving LA. And though he deadpanned peevishly about his family life (he’s now happily settled in Sydney) and encored with the ever-charming Christmas tune White Wine In The Sun, he is far too self-analytical to allow himself smug satisfaction.

A very funny, absurdist exploration of John Mayer’s saccharine hit Your Body Is A Wonderland was followed by the dubiously romantic, probability acknowledging ditty If I Didn’t Have You. Later on he went further with I’ll Take Lonely Tonight, a remarkable, heartfelt and largely straight flagellation about the temptations of infidelity on tour.

Amidst silly crowd-pleasers like the epic Cheese and the identity politics-mocking Ginger, there was the routine repudiation of religion. And Minchin’s weaving of raw honesty and seething anger around a catchy tune found its apotheosis in the cathartic folk-rock snarl of Fuck America, a nihilistic swipe at conservative and progressive fundamentalism alike. Jay Richardson