Tim Minchin

Tim Minchin Biography

Timothy David "Tim" Minchin (born 7 October 1975) is a British-born Australian comedian, actor, and musician.

Minchin is best known for his musical comedy, which has featured six CDs, three DVDs and a number of live comedy shows that he performed internationally. He has also appeared on television in Australia, Britain and the United States. After growing up in Perth, Western Australia, he attended the University of Western Australia and WAAPA before moving to Melbourne in 2002. His breakout show, "Dark Side", launched him into the public eye, achieving critical success at the 2005 Melbourne International Comedy Festival and the 2005 Edinburgh Festival Fringe. In 2013, Minchin played the role of rock star Atticus Fetch on Showtime's Californication.

Minchin has a background in theatre and has appeared in various stage productions, in addition to some small acting roles on Australian TV. A documentary film about Minchin, Rock N Roll Nerd (directed by Rhian Skirving), was released theatrically in 2008 and broadcast by ABC1 in 2009. He is the composer and lyricist of the Olivier Award winning and Tony Award winning hit musical Matilda the Musical, based on the Roald Dahl book Matilda.

In 2013, The University of Western Australia (UWA) awarded Minchin the honorary degree of Doctor of Letters, for his contribution to the arts, recognising his outstanding achievements and worldwide acclaim as a leading composer, lyricist, actor, writer and comedian.

Personal life

Minchin was born in Northampton, UK, to Australian parents and raised in Perth, Western Australia. His father was a surgeon. He was educated at the private Christ Church Grammar School and started learning piano at the age of eight, but gave it up after three years because he did not enjoy the discipline. He redeveloped an interest in the instrument after he started writing music with his brother Dan Minchin, a guitarist, but still describes himself as a "hack pianist... a 'more you practise, the better you get' kind of guy". Minchin graduated from The University of Western Australia in 1995 with a Bachelor of Arts in English and Theatre, and in 1998 completed an Advanced Diploma in Contemporary Music at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts. In 2013 he was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Letters from The University of Western Australia.

He currently lives in North London with his wife, Sarah. They have two children: a daughter, Violet, and a son, Caspar. Minchin often refers to his relationships in his songs and stand-up routines.

Musical comedy

Minchin describes his act as a "funny cabaret show" and sees himself primarily as a musician and songwriter as opposed to a comedian; his songs, he says, "just happen to be funny." His reasoning for combining the disciplines of music and comedy was revealed in one interview when he said "I'm a good musician for a comedian and I'm a good comedian for a musician but if I had to do any of them in isolation I dunno."

He draws on his background in theatre for his distinctive onstage appearance and persona. In his performances, he typically goes barefoot with wild hair and heavy eye makeup, which is juxtaposed with a crisp suit and tails, and a grand piano. According to Minchin, he likes going barefoot in his shows because it makes him feel more comfortable. He considers the eye makeup important because while he is playing the piano he is not able to use his arms and relies on his face for expressions and gestures; the eyeliner makes his features more distinguishable for the audience. Much of his look and persona, he says, are about "treading that line between mocking yourself and wanting to be an iconic figure. Mocking the ridiculousness and completely unrealistic dream of being an iconic figure." The eccentric appearance removes Minchin from reality somewhat, allowing him to make outrageous statements onstage "without annoying (most) people."

The shows consist largely of Minchin's comedic songs and poetry, with subjects ranging from social satire to inflatable dolls, sex fetishes, and his own failed rock star ambitions. In between songs, he performs short stand-up routines. Several of his songs deal with religion, a subject with which Minchin"?an atheist and a fan of Richard Dawkins"?says he is "a bit obsessed." He argues that as one of the most powerful and influential forces in the world, religion should never be off-limits to satirists. He says that his favourite song to perform is "Peace Anthem for Palestine", which reflects his feelings about religious conflict. In October 2010 he was made a Distinguished Supporter of the British Humanist Association. His comedy also deals with taboos more broadly. A prime example of this is the song "Prejudice" which parodies the power awarded to something as simple as a word.

Early career (1998"2007)

After completing an Advanced Diploma in Contemporary Music in 1998, Minchin started out composing music for documentaries and theatre. In 2000 he wrote and starred in the musical Pop at the Blue Room Theatre in Perth. He released a CD titled Sit with his band Timmy the Dog in 2001, but achieved little success. In 2002, after only one professional acting job, he moved from Perth to Melbourne to pursue work. Minchin struggled initially; he could not get an agent for a year and had been unable to find any acting work. While several record companies gave him positive feedback, they were not sure how his music"?a mixture of satirical songs and more serious pop songs"?could be marketed. He decided to compile all of his humorous songs into a single live show to "get the comedy stuff off my chest" before going back to more serious music.

Minchin says he entered into comedy "naively", having never even attended a live comedy gig before performing one himself. His break-out show, Darkside (co-produced by Laughing Stock Productions), achieved critical success at the 2005 Melbourne International Comedy Festival, where it won the inaugural Festival Directors' Award and attracted the notice of Karen Koren, the manager of the well-known Gilded Balloon venues. Koren backed the show's run at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, where Minchin received the Perrier Comedy Award for Best Newcomer. His 2006 show, So Rock, was nominated for the Melbourne International Comedy Festival's top prize, the Barry Award, and in 2007 he was given the award for Best Alternative Comedian at the HBO US Comedy Arts Festival.

Live recordings of his 2005 and 2006 shows, Darkside and So Rock, have been released as CDs. In 2007, he released a DVD titled So Live, featuring a live recording in the Sydney Opera House Studio with material from both of his previous shows. As this DVD was only released in Australia, he released a DVD in 2008 entitled So F**king Rock Live in the UK, containing largely the same material as So Live.

Ready for This? (2008"2010)

In August 2008 Minchin debuted his third solo show, Ready for This?, at the Edinburgh Fringe and subsequently took it on tour across the UK. During the Edinburgh run, he contributed to The Guardian newspaper's podcasts, despite his new show containing a song about a Guardian critic who once gave his show a negative review.

A recording of this show, recorded live at Queen Elizabeth Hall in London was released as an album for download via iTunes on 20 July 2009. An Australian recording was released on DVD, solely in Australia on 9 September 2009 and a UK release in the second half of 2010.

In December 2009, the track "White Wine in the Sun" was released as a downloadable single online. Fans on Minchin's official forum launched a campaign to get this festive track into the UK Christmas charts by purchasing it from various online download retailers. A Facebook group was also launched to support the campaign as well as a drive on Twitter in which celebrities were contacted about the campaign and a succession of e-mails to radio DJs in a bid to get them to play the song. It was later announced that 50% of the December profits from the song would be donated to The National Autistic Society. The bid was ultimately unsuccessful.

It was announced at the end of 2009 that one of Minchin's beat poems, Storm, was to be made into a short animated movie to be released in 2010. A blog was launched to accompany the film-making process and a short trailer was released on 8 January 2010. The full movie was launched on YouTube on 7 April 2011.

He performed Ready for This? for what he envisages as the final time on 27 February 2010 in Sydney. He did however perform a set at The Big Libel Gig on 14 March 2010 in protest at Britain's libel laws, along with other performers including Dara " Briain, Marcus Brigstocke, Shappi Khorsandi, Robin Ince and Ed Byrne. As well as this, he performed at Camp Bestival as part of the Jestival Sessions in July 2010.

Minchin was the subject of the winning entry in the 2010 Archibald Prize, Australia's most important portraiture competition. The winning entry was painted by Sam Leach.

Tim Minchin and the Heritage Orchestra (2010"2011)

Minchin embarked on a new arena tour starting with Birmingham on Wednesday 8 December 2010. A departure from the structure of his previous live shows, his act has been scaled up to be performed with the Heritage Orchestra. It contains a mixture of material: there are new songs on the subject of prayer and of rationality " themes which often appear in his previous work. Minchin has stated that the aim of incorporating the orchestra into his act is to create a comedy show that would not be ruined by being performed in arenas, as stated in the special features of the DVD and Blu-ray. The show is touring the UK and Australia. It was filmed at the Royal Albert Hall in London for a Blu-ray and DVD that was released in November 2011.

Television and radio

Tim Minchin has made appearances on Australian TV shows, including the ABC's Spicks and Specks and The Sideshow. He has also made appearances on Network Ten's panel shows Good News Week (February 2010) and Talkin' 'Bout Your Generation (March 2010).

Minchin has also appeared on various British radio and television shows, including the BBC's Never Mind the Buzzcocks (four times, once as guest host), BBC Radio 4's Mark Watson Makes the World Substantially Better and two specials on BBC Radio 2. He often performs on his TV appearances, such as his spots on Friday Night with Jonathan Ross in October 2009 and July 2010. He performed a specially-written song entitled "Five Poofs and Two Pianos", a parody of the show's house band, 4 Poofs and a Piano. Minchin also appeared as a special guest on the 2009 edition of The Big Fat Quiz of the Year performing a song written for the show ("It's Like 1984") in reference to a question regarding Google Street View. On Saturday 13 August 2011 Minchin hosted Prom 40: the first BBC Comedy Promenade Concert at the Royal Albert Hall. He appeared on Desert Island Discs on 6 May 2012.

A heavily cut-down version of the show released on DVD as So F**king Rock Live has aired several times on British TV channel E4, first on 23 July 2009. It aired at the turn of 2011, forming E4's New Year's coverage.

On 8 May 2010, Minchin's musical sitcom pilot Strings was broadcast on BBC Radio 2. Minchin plays the protagonist Jonny, who leaves Australia to live in the UK. Well received as it was by Radio 2, he decided against creating a full series.

In January 2011, Minchin made his American television debut on TBS's Conan, where he performed "Inflatable You". On 12 May 2011, he performed "If I Didn't Have You" on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, and on 7 June 2011 Minchin made his second appearance on Conan, singing "Prejudice". Minchin made his third appearance on Conan on 9 April 2012, singing his "3-Minute Song".

In December 2011 Minchin performed a specially written song called "Woody Allen Jesus" on The Jonathan Ross Show. However, despite the show's producers and ITV's lawyers approving the composition for broadcast it was removed at the last minute. Responding on his blog, Minchin stated: "[?] Someone got nervous and sent the tape to ITV's director of television, Peter Fincham. And Peter Fincham demanded that I be cut from the show. He did this because he's scared of the ranty, shit-stirring, right-wing press, and of the small minority of Brits who believe they have a right to go through life protected from anything that challenges them in any way."

In August 2012 Minchin appeared on Chain Reaction, first being interviewed by Derren Brown, and later interviewing Caitlin Moran.

In January 2013, Minchin made the first of several appearances as a guest star on the Showtime series Californication as the fictional rock star "Atticus Fetch".

Acting and theatre

Minchin's background is in theatre and he has appeared in various stage productions. His most recent dramatic theatrical performance was in the title role for the 2006 Perth Theatre Company production of Amadeus, a fictional play about the downfall of Mozart at the hands of the reigning court composer, a character based on and named after Antonio Salieri. His other stage acting roles have included the title role in the 2004 Perth Theatre Company / Hoopla production of Hamlet, and The Writer in the original PTC production of Reg Cribb's The Return. He has also acted for The Australian Shakespeare Company (Twelfth Night), the Black Swan Theatre Company (Così, One Destiny) and in various other plays, short films and TVC's. Roles from his days in musical theatre include Don Quixote in Man of La Mancha and Pontius Pilate (and understudying Judas Iscariot twice) in Jesus Christ Superstar. He has also appeared playing small parts on the ABC telemovie Loot and on the show Comedy Inc..

Minchin also plays the role of Tom, in the contemporary family drama Two Fists, One Heart, released 19 March 2009. He also wrote the song Drowned for the film's soundtrack.

He co-wrote an Olivier Award winning musical version of Roald Dahl's novel Matilda " entitled Matilda the Musical " with Dennis Kelly and the Royal Shakespeare Company, which is produced by the RSC. It showed at the Courtyard Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon running from 9 November 2010 to 30 January 2011 and began its West End run at the Cambridge Theatre on 25 October 2011 to great critical acclaim. In 2013, Matilda opened on Broadway at the Shubert Theatre, and earned 12 Tony Award nominations.

Minchin was cast in the role of Judas in the 2012 UK and Ireland arena tour of the musical Jesus Christ Superstar. The tour extended into various other countries due to popular demand with Minchin reprising the role in the world, with a filmed version being released in Spring 2013. The filmed version, much to Minchin's annoyance, had his voice autotuned. The production toured Australia from May to July 2013, with another UK tour in October 2013, and has further plans to tour the USA.

Minchin made his Sydney Theatre Company debut in 2013 in Tom Stoppard's Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead alongside Toby Schmitz.

Atheism and scepticism

In an interview with IIG member John Rael, Minchin explains that what upsets him most about paranormal beliefs is "special pleading" by people who say vague things such as "there is no harm in it". Minchin states that there is very little harm in something like reiki, but asks "where do you draw the line?" when it comes to needing real evidence if a therapy works or not. He states that he is an atheist as well as a sceptic, and cannot understand how someone can call themself a sceptic and still be religious. "If you apply doubt to anything...the whole religion thing is obviously a fantasy."

In his beat poem Storm, which centres on Minchin having an argument with a "hippie" who believes in various New Age alternatives in lieu of actual medicine, he states: "Science adjusts its views based on what's observed. Faith is the denial of observation, so that belief can be preserved."



  • Sit (with band Timmy the Dog) (2001)
  • Darkside (2005)
  • So Rock (2006)
  • Ready for This? (2009)
  • Live at the O2 (2010)
  • Tim Minchin and The Heritage Orchestra (2011)


  • "Drowned" (2008)
  • "White Wine in the Sun" (2009)
  • "The Pope Song" (2010) " As a free download from his website
  • "The Fence" (2011)
  • "White Wine in the Sun" (2012 Version)


  • Laugh-a-poolooza (featured artist) (2005)


  • So Live (2007) Australian DVD
  • So F**king Rock Live (also known as So Fucking Rock Live) (11 October 2008)
  • So F**king Rock Live (Special Edition) (also known as So Fucking Rock Live (Special Edition)) (5 October 2009)
  • Ready for This? (29 November 2010)
  • Tim Minchin and the Heritage Orchestra (14 November 2011)
  • Rock'n'roll Nerd: The Tim Minchin Story



  • 2008 " Two Fists, One Heart " Tom
  • 2010 " The Lost Thing " The Boy (Voice)
  • 2013 " Californication " Atticus Fetch (Guest)



  • 2012/13 " Jesus Christ Superstar " Judas Iscariot
  • 2013 " Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead


  • 2012 " Matilda


  • 2005 Melbourne International Comedy Festival Directors' Choice Award for Dark Side
  • 2005 Edinburgh Festival Fringe Perrier Comedy Award, Best Newcomer
  • 2005 Melbourne International Comedy Festival, The Groggy Squirrel Critics' Award
  • 2007 U.S. Comedy Arts Festival, Best Alternative Act
  • 2009 Helpmann Award for Best Comedy Performer
  • 2009 Green Room Awards, Cabaret: Best Original Songs
  • 2009 Green Room Awards, Cabaret: Best Artiste
  • 2010 Chortle Awards, Best Music or Variety Act
  • 2012 Olivier Awards: Best New Musical for Matilda The Musical
  • 2013 What's On Stage Awards, The W&P Longreach Best Supporting Actor in a Musical for Jesus Christ Superstar

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