Tim Minchin at Just for Laughs | Live review
When Just for Laughs tickets went on sale in April, Aussie musical comic Tim Minchin instantly sold out five nights at Lincoln Hall (although additional seats were later released) and now I understand the fuss. Minchin is a bright, fearless performer with an outstanding audience rapport and vivid point-of-view. But before I get started, may I just say what a pleasure it was to see comedy at Lincoln Hall? The rock venue created floor seating for the show and Minchin himself requested that there be no in-and-out privileges during his set. It was the perfect vibe for an intimate comedy show. Lincoln Hall: Please, please, please book more comedy!
Now onward to Minchin. I've seen clips of the U.K-born, Aussie bred comic over the years, but they never really quite do the barefoot pianist with unkempt hair and eyeshadow real justice. You have to see him live. Minchin came onstage to an instant standing ovation and wrly commented, "It can really only get worse. I promise I'll do it slowly." But it just got better. Minchin began the night with a healthy dose of self parody with Rock n' Roll Nerd, a jaunty ballad full of middle-class angst and self-effacing one-liners like, "He has no drinking problem and no drug addiction, unless you count the drugs they put in chicken." Minchin followed this with his "work-in-progress" Cont—it seems like an angry rant against minorities until Minchin lets us in on the joke, re-singing it with new lyrics that put the first round of lyrics into hilarious explanatory context.
Minchin is equally nimble off the piano as when bantering with the audience, dashing around stage (including an impressive leap up onto a five-foot speaker) and firing off one-liners. In one bit, he railed against spam emails. "Can you believe they tried to tell me I needed a penis enlargement kit," he quipped. "I'm perfectly happy with the penis enlargement kit I already have." He also told the story of the fear he instills in his adopted daughter (completely made up, of course) as a seque into another song.
Minchin has opinions, too. His Pope Song is as anti-Catholic and anti-religious as it gets and Minchin revels in his atheism (or agnosticism at the very least). Yet as brash as his lyrics can be, he sells even the harshest of songs with a wink and a smile. As Minchin repeatedly refers to His Holiness as a motherfucker, we can't help but hum along and tap our feet. This is in part due to Minchin's skills in tickling the ivories. Part of his charm is the ability to jump musical styles. In his 90-minute set, Minchin's ditties offered a hat tip to jazz, slam poetry, pop, musical theater, ragtime and more.
The crowd was made up mostly of die-hards who clearly relished the long wait to see Minchin in Chicago and knew every song by heart. For the fans who have tickets to his four remaining shows, consider youself lucky. If you've got tickets but have no idea who Minchin is, consider yourself even luckier.