When Tim Minchin made his American TV debut early this year on Conan, we learned that he had given some thought to performing his song, "Prejudice," but had second thoughts about it, according to Team Coco.
Well, second time is the charm, then? Because Minchin returned to Conan last night, and did done perform the song then.
If you get the chance, you really should see Tim Minchin's full headlining show live, because it's remarkable. Check his tour page -- he's at Bonnaroo this weekend, and the TBS Just For Laughs Chicago festival next week. But if you have to make do with small doses on your TV/Internet box for now, well, so be it.
Tim Minchin's current two-hour show is great. Fantastic. Wonderful. Magical. As I've said and written before, he's much more than a musical comedian. I saw him last week in New York City, and there's something really deep to what he manages to weave into his comedy and music. If you're in Chicago or Montreal, where Minchin will be performing at this summer's Just For Laughs festivals, you must check him out.
Just wanted to give him some context, since last night on Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, it's just straight to Minchin without much context or introduction. So here he is with a song written for his wife and lifelong love. It's called "If I Didn't Have You." Roll it.
Storm is a woman Tim Minchin met. Her ideas about life got him going about medicine, religion, psychics, science and other matters. And now Minchin's beat poem has been animated.
Roll it! Warning: Includes language that is not safe for workplaces and content that may not be safe for those with small minds.
Congrats to comedian/musician Tim Minchin, who provided the narration for The Lost Thing, which just won the Academy Award for Short Film (Animated). The directors gave Minchin a shout-out during their acceptance speech.
In this clip, illustrator/co-director Shaun Tan explains why Minchin was the choice to narrate the film adaptation of his story:
Somewhere in a land between Reggie Watts and Bo Burnham is the fabulous rock 'n roll piano-playing comedy of Tim Minchin, who has become increasingly popular where he lives in the U.K., as well as in his native Australia.
In America, audiences in New York City and Los Angeles (and comedy festivals in Aspen and Las Vegas) only have had a few chances to experience Minchin's talent since 2007. Last night, everyone got a chance to see and hear him as Minchin made his American TV debut on Conan. He opened with "Inflatable You."
Safe choice? Good entry point? Perhaps and yes.
But the folks at Team Coco pointed out this morning that Minchin considered performing a completely different song, which has more of a socio-political bent, as well as a message that would have rang right at home with Conan himself. Team Coco wasn't so sure, revealing: "we thought that the US audience wouldn’t be familiar enough with the term 'ginger.'"
Let's take a look and listen to "Prejudice," shall we?
Rare is the show that receives enough widespread raves to double the audience overnight, only to then exceed everyone's expectations. This was that show. This was the show, unless something happens in the next two nights of Just For Laughs in Montreal to eclipse it. This was AMP'd.
Musical comedy acts such as Hard n' Phirm and Garfunkel and Oates are in Montreal this week, and they walked with me up the hill to Cabaret Juste Pour Rire on Thursday night to find out what everyone had been buzzing about from the night before. You know how there are some acts that are so good you don't necessarily want to follow them. Beardyman is that kind of act. And he was the host. So everyone had to folllow him.
Somewhere between Bobby McFerrin and Reggie Watts is a beatboxer-singer-comedian who is British and Jewish named Beardyman, and he is a headliner in his own right. His overwhelming talent blew up the capacity crowd right from the start, and made everyone else up their games.
Axis of Awesome, an Australia trio, demonstrated how every great and popular song relies on the same four chords, all in one song (and even included a Tim Minchin bit, to the delight of the crowd, those cheeky bastards!). The Doo Wops, winners of JFL's Homegrown Competition back in 2001, were back with a series of short musical bits that ended with a longer number in tribute to the "Crazy Bush." Where do you even start with Bridget Everett? With Kenny Mellman backing her on the piano, Everett announced: "I'm a good, old-fashioned American slut!" and proved it within the first minutes (and again later) by lifting up her dress. She wore panties this night, we can all attest to that. And we also testify to the fact that two young girls providing backup singing and rapping skills on a cover of Rihanna's "Hard" is hard to follow. "There is absolutely nothing I can say to make it make any more sense," Beardyman said immediately afterward. Bo Burnham wowed the crowd, per usual, dropping hard rhymes behind the keys and then standing up in between to break down stand-up comedy cliches. Solid work from the young man, who continues to grow both literally and figuratively in comedy. Tim Minchin presumably would be closing out the show. Beardyman joined him for a song as they ad-libbed a number and Minchin "outed" Beardyman as Darren. Then Minchin played his cheeky profanity-filled rant against the Pope. But that was not to be all, folks. Beardyman asked for an encore, and an encore we all received when Reggie Watts emerged as a special guest, and then he asked both Beardyman and Minchin to join him for a jam to close out the show. This video I shot will not do justice to it. But I share it with you, anyhow, in the hopes that you can enjoy the rare sight of three musical comedy geniuses performing onstage together. Roll it.
Tim Minchin may be a cheeky bastard at times, but he's also a very loving man and father who has neither molested children nor covered up and protected child molesters, which is more than we can say about the Catholic Church and Pope Benedict XVI. Actually, Minchin came up with just about all he could say, in very explicit (read: Not Safe For Work) language, in this song he directed to the Pope. Animated by Fraser Davidson. Roll it!
If you're a fan of Tim Minchin, then all I need to tell you is that he wrote and performed a new Christmas song for you (and your family) to enjoy. Well, new to YouTube, anyhow (as I've been informed!). If you don't know who Tim Minchin is, then read up on him, before and after listening. Here it is, Tim Minchin, "White Wine in the Sun." Don't worry. It's not one of his raunchy ditties. It's a pretty ballad. I really like Christmas, too. Thanks, Tim!
And the award for Best Off-Broadway Show You Only Have A Week Or Less to Enjoy goes to...Tim Minchin's one-man show at New World Stages. Six shows remain, tonight through Saturday (April 12).
Why must you see Tim Minchin? Well, I already tried to tell you this back in November, when I saw him perform an hour for industry folk and tourists at The Comedy Festival in Las Vegas. Minchin returned to New York City for a six-week run that began five weeks ago, and in the past week, he has teased the crowds at the UCB Theatre (last Monday) and Union Hall (last night) with a taste of his show, which in its full theatrical production is a 105-minute tour de force of musical and comedic showmanship.
Plenty of audio and video of Tim Minchin exists online, including on his own site. But it's best to discover Minchin for the first time live onstage. His opening number, "I'm So F**king Rock," serves as a slow burn of a reveal as to what he's all about (Note: He also has a funny bit later on about what I did just there with the asterisks). Even with the grand piano and the lights and the theatrics, Minchin manages to sneak up on new audience members. It helps that he is a brilliant pianist. He says in the show that he's a fan of Queen and Ben Folds and you can hear that, as well as the classical training. Many of his songs are quite beautiful and melodic. Despite the perverse lyrics. Or perhaps because of them. Better put...in his full show, you learn that Tim Minchin is one cheeky bastard. His songs include "Inflatable You," "Rock 'n' Roll Nerd," "Palestine Peace Anthem" (pigs!), "You Grew On Me," "Dark Side," and his closer, "Canvas Bags." The full show also includes a song about his skepticism toward religion and other matters, "If You Open Your Mind Too Much Your Brain Will Fall Out (Take My Wife)." And there's a poem, "Angry (Feet)," he wrote on his therapist's orders that reveals a hidden subtext. He addresses fans and critics who take issue with his language and his morbid sense of humor with funny patter between the songs, and proves himself quite adept at working the crowd. A woman in the front-row convulsed in laughing fits so much last Friday that Minchin worried that she'd choke on her laughs. "I've never killed anyone before," he confessed, before imagining the headline. "Woman Dies During Pissing Song. Actually, make that P-i-*-*-i-n-g." More than a few repeat customers in the crowd, including one young woman who traveled all the way from Australia to see Minchin once again. As I indicated earlier, he has only one week left in this New York "experiment" before returning with his wife and daughter to London. At the end of Friday's show, Minchin said, "Send friends. Send money. Whatever. You've been the best audience of the season. That's a compliment to you, or an indication of my weekday misery." Only Minchin's not quite miserable. Though he could use a better platform than New World Stages to get the best exposure to American audiences. Perhaps a rock club somewhere downtown such as Joe's Pub or the Cutting Room, to name a couple of venues. Two things are certain. To truly appreciate Minchin's skill, you do need to see him on a proper stage with a fine piano and professional light and sound equipment. And secondly, you do need to see Minchin as soon as possible. Because after Saturday, he'll be gone for a while. Don't let the ticket prices scare you at New World Stages (although that may have scared off some potential fans). Just go see him. You'll be glad you did.
Remember when Tim Minchin told me in November how much he loved his first visit to New York City and would love to return in 2008 for an extended run and write a new show? Well. Minchin will make good on that, starting Monday. He'll perform a 90-minute show at New World Stages, Mondays-Saturdays, from March 3 through April 12. Info here.
Before I get to recapping the year in comedy, circa 2007, let's look back at some of my more illuminating, insightful and interesting comedy interviews from the year.
My sit-down with Ricky Gervais has to take the top spot in my mind, because his strongly held opinions on sticking to your creative guns and not sacrificing your beliefs in your own sense of humor (and humour) are words that any creative artists -- whether they're comedians, musicians, writers or actors -- can live by.
A close second, then, has to have been my September face-to-face with Dane Cook. Arguably the biggest headliner in the country this year and last, in terms of tickets and CDs sold, Cook met me in a Manhattan hotel lounge as part of his promotional tour for Good Luck Chuck. But we barely talked about the movie, instead tackling every question you've probably wanted to hear Cook answer, and then some. He even brought up Louis CK!
Speaking of whom, Louis CK was just one of the many other bright lights of comedy I got to talk to at length in 2007 -- the others included Nick Swardson, Christian Finnegan, Jim Gaffigan, Michael Ian Black, Eddie Brill, Bob Saget, Artie Lange, Doug Benson, Damon Wayans, Charlie Murphy, Frank Caliendo and Tim Minchin. Of course, there were hundreds of other comedians I got to witness and talk to this past year, and hopefully, I'll get to tell you more about all of them in 2008.
After electrifying the Las Vegas audience with his extended introductory performance of "So F--king Rock," Tim Minchin said this was his first time in America. Well. Not quite. I'd seen Minchin earlier this year when he wowed the crowds in Aspen.
"Aspen's not America, really," Minchin told me backstage after rocking the socks off the audience for an hour-plus. "They just plop you down on the mountain and then pick you back up."
"I didn't have America as an intention," he said. "The opportunity came to me." Winning the Perrier Award for best newcomer to Edinburgh in 2005 led to an invite to Montreal in 2006, which in turn led to Aspen in February of 2007, where he received more industry kudos. "But after Aspen, I said, 'Hold on, wait a second..." So here he is, or was, for three shows in New York City last week at Ars Nova -- "Ars Nova is the most wonderful small theater I've perhaps ever been in," he told me -- then Saturday night in Las Vegas for The Comedy Festival (organized by the same HBO folks who recruited him to Aspen), then two nights earlier this week in Los Angeles. Minchin said he hopes to come back in 2008 with something proper and new. "I'd like to sit for six weeks and write a new season in New York," he said. "You want people to discover you." In other words, don't look for him to go promoting the hell out of himself, especially when there are plenty of people like me to sing his praises. "Word of mouth and I have always gotten off well," he said. "I'm trying to savor this no one knowing who the f--k I am."
So, what's to know?
Minchin plays the piano with the best of them, writes darkly humorous lyrics, mixes in stand-up comedy and generally works the crowd with seemless charm. In Las Vegas, in addition to "So F--king Rock," he performed "Inflatable You," "Rock 'n' Roll Nerd," "Palestine Peace Anthem," "Dark Side" and "Canvas Bags," plus a quick encore.
Here hear is a video to get you acquainted with Mr. Tim Minchin:
Or a recap of other shows and stuff from Friday and Saturday at the 2007 U.S. Comedy Arts Festival
Colbert received his Person of the Year award from CNN's Jeff Greenfield, as they sat in front of a giant poster/mock magazine cover of Colbert as the Person of the Year with the subtitle: "Not you. Me." A good dig at Time. Also fitting for the Colbert character. He said this was his third time at the festival, but "this is the first time I've looked out at the front row and not seen everybody asleep!" I barely got in, and barely made it to the post-show press opp (my bad on both counts). Very funny and friendly guy. For those of you playing the home game, the Colbert Report writers come up with most of the “Word”s on Fridays, because it can take a while to write the backstory and explanation for each word. Some insightful comments on Bill O’Reilly and Barney Frank. Video tributes from his friends and colleagues. More to come on this in other forums that pay me. But the show was so packed, Colbert made time to give props to people stuck in the lobby.
Fat City Lounge
The title of this year’s late-night show at Aspen, where anyone and everyone can drop in for a few minutes of stage time. Friday night’s hosts Michael Ian Black and Michael Showalter joked about the show’s musical theme and riffed on the Irish (hey!?). Charlyne Yi, who played an NBC page on a recent episode of 30 Rock, stepped up first with her guitar and rocked out to a song called "God knows I finished my whiskey." Hmmm. Sketch group Olde English followed with a sketch about the Fernberger family whose condo the troupers were staying at in Aspen, showing off the family's framed photos, posters, paintings, living room chair, track lighting and drapes. Apparently, the HBO folks weren't so happy about the sketch ending with the troupers simulating sex with said items. Either way, what made me enjoy it was not knowing whether the guys really did take these items from the condo or not. TastiSkank brought the funny with songs about "I heart dirty boys," "Hydrocodone," "Please manscape the area," "Oops, I f--ked you again" and "You're the worst sex I've ever had." Showalter had to take off to his other scheduled show, so Ian Black introduced a special guest, screenwriter Joe Eszterhas (as played by UCB's Seth Morris) who read his open letter to Hollywood. Tim Minchin closed the show. In the first 30 seconds, I wasn't sure what to make of this Aussie as he air-drummed, air-guitared and lip-synched. But as soon as he sat down to the piano, everything changed. He can play. He can sing. And he can tell some wickedly perverse jokes. Anyone who can write a peace anthem for the Middle East is good in my book, even if I'm going to keep on eating pigs. So glad I decided to catch this show.
After watching the pilot for this new FOX sitcom that debuted Sunday night (twas funny in an outrageous way, although upon watching it and the second episode Sunday, I've decided that it's entirely due to Rob Corddry and Lenny Clarke), Spike Feresten moderated a panel discussion with creator Ricky Blitt, star Corddry and Seth MacFarlane. "It's sort of a Wonder Years starting at 32," Blitt said. MacFarlane joked about drinking so early in the day: "I drink because I'm comfortable being the only white person in this town." Corddry downplayed all of the roles that are coming his way in movies. "Those nine films, they're all like don't-blink roles," he said.
Best of the Fest Awards ceremony
Hosted by Jamie Kennedy, with presentations also made by Judith Light and William Baldwin. Deciding to sit with Shane Mauss and a guy from SuperDeluxe front row center turned out to be a wise decision, especially when Mauss won an award as the best stand-up of the fest (along with Kirk Fox, who got off one of the funniest ad-libs by saying, "William Baldwin's complaining he didn't win an award? He already won an award. He's not Daniel."). For his part, Baldwin kept cracking jokes, perhaps to let us know that he, like older brother Alec, is ready and willing to do sitcom work! At one point, though, Baldwin stopped to look out into the crowd and saw the fro of Eric Andre. Paraphrasing here, Baldwin shouted to Andre: "You were on fire last night. Do you remember? You crashed the party, holding a sled over your head as you shouted, 'Let's rub boners!'" Um. Yeah. I was there. I remember. But most people in the audience were merely weirded out. Afterward, the guys from Super Deluxe took Mauss, myself and Ben Kronberg out to dinner at La Cantina. Fun, quick Mexican meal, and then Mauss and I raced back to the Belly Up for his final showcase.
Group B: Andy Borowitz hosted this standing-room only stand-up showcase. Erik Charles Nielsen went first, and seemed less intense than the first night I'd seen him, mixing up his material a bit. But the audience wasn't quite ready for him, and his decision to back into an unlit corner of the stage during his closer didn't help, either. Alexandra McHale has some funny nutritional advice, but I had to make a note in my notepad to alert Gary Gulman that someone else is coming for his cookie jokes! Na'im Lynn must really have a problem around the holidays, though he seems nice enough. TJ Miller has so many characters in his act, I feel like I'm watching an audition for SNL. To which Dan Boulger asked, "What's wrong with that?" John Ramsey has so many sharp, solid, clever jokes that he must be introduced to Myq Kaplan to see if they'll either become fast friends or mortal enemies. A poop joke as Russian history? Seriously? Seriously funny. Shane Mauss, fresh off his festival win, got to close the show and was funnier than I'd ever seen him. He threw in some old jokes and some rare jokes. And he had the audience at his bidding.
The parties: The Sierra Mist Lounge in the St. Regis provided a fun and comfortable environment to kick back after the shows each night during the U.S. Comedy Arts Festival, although it seemed better on its slower nights (Wednesday and Saturday) than on Thursday and Friday, when it got so packed you could barely move. Met some nice comics (Nick Swardson) and even some nice lawyers (Jeff B. Cohen, aka lawyer to the comics, aka Chunk!). A ping pong table and foosball. Dan Boulger thought he had a brush with Cheryl Hines. Only problem was that the parties ended too early, as the lights came up at about 1:45 each morning. Which invariably led to the afterparties.
The UCB "house" was where it was at each night. Seth Morris and the rest of the guys couldn't have been nicer. The basement hopped. Anyone and everyone would show up (see my earlier post about William Baldwin's party reference during the awards ceremony). And our small band of comedians and merrymakers bonded throughout the week, making for a four-day party. Only problem was that we'd have to shepherd each other back up the icy mountain to the condo.
The so-called "mansion," on the other hand, ugh. Took a lot of effort to get there, by car and by foot. And once there, it really was too large and anonymous to have any fun there. As we remarked to each other afterward, we could've had much more fun at the UCB place. Or even at our place.
We still have a lot of catching up to do, you readers and I, and we still have a lot of partying to do, Mauss and I and the other comics, so there will be a lot for me to bring to you on Sunday. In the meantime, here are the other award winners...
Best Stand-up – Kirk Fox & Shane Mauss
Breakout Award Male – John Oliver
Breakout Award Female – TastiSkank (Sarah Litzsinger and Kate Reinders)
Best Alternative – Tim Minchin
Best Sketch – Summer of Tears
Best One Person Show – Nilaja Sun for “No Child…”