Logic! Science! Atheism! Pianos?

Hooray for a post that’s not a downer! Fucking finally, right?

If any of you are my friends on Facebook, you’ve probably noticed the obscene number of Tim Minchin videos that I’ve posted in the last six months or so. (Did you watch them? Weren’t they great?) I may have mentioned him on the blog before. I think it was in my comedy post. Maybe just in the Pointless List box. Anyway, we all know I love comedy. And I love music. But somewhere in the middle there’s a weird cross-section of people who can do both. At the same time. These people are mutants. Hilarious mutants (and really, if you’re going to have mutants, those are the best kind to have, aren’t they?).

The reason I love Tim Minchin is that he’s fucking smart. Perhaps not in a typically booksmart way (no offense, there’s just no other way to say that), but in an important-subject-matter, Bill Hicksian sensibility kind of way. Intelligent, logical humor. Which is hard to do. Harder still to do whilst banging away on a grand piano, singing really complicated lyrics in a sort of baroque jacket with tails, the entire time maintaining an irresistible redheaded Australian adorableness. Logic plus adorable plus funny equals smart-girl bait. Oh, also barefoot. Barefoot smart-girl bait.

He’s one of those comedians that you either love or hate, as is usually the case when someone tries to base an entire career on making people laugh at controversial issues instead of being all profound and serious about them. Religion comes up a lot in his work, as well as other spiritual or ethereal (read: not provable) belief systems. He’s a staunch atheist, and consistently comes back to the point that logic and science should trump blind faith based on nothing. For the record, I’m not an atheist (you can stop having a panic attack, Mom). But I am pretty devoutly pro-logic and pro-free-thought. I have no issues with other people’s beliefs or faith, so long as they can find their peace or happiness or whatever in a quiet, unobtrusive, keep-it-to-yourself kind of way. Just because you think you’re right doesn’t automatically mean that I’m wrong, does it? I’d like to think it doesn’t. Live and let live. You keep your Jesus magic, and I’ll keep my space aliens and theory of evolution and we’ll just agree to disagree and continue to go about our business and love each other unconditionally and unabashedly in spite of our differences. Ok? Ok.

Hello, weird digression. Where did you come from? I should stay on topic.

The problem with combining any kind of social commentary with comedy (or music, for that matter), is that so often people can’t overlook the medium for the sake of the message. Like people who don’t listen to heavy metal or hip hop saying that it’s a bad influence on their kids. Or that all risqué photography is porn. Or that graffiti isn’t art. (“Stay on topic, Vanessa.” Ok.) Probably the best relevant example of this is Minchin’s The Pope Song, which is about the Pope (the last one, not the Nazi Emperor Palpatine-looking one we have now) covering up for priests who sexually abused children. In two minutes he manages to say the word “fuck” 92 times (by my count, could be wrong). Outstanding. Brilliant. Tremendous. The word itself doesn’t offend me in the least. Fuck fuckity fuckfuck. I can listen past it, right? Past the fact that “fuck” is just another word, to get to the point of the other lyrics, which are quite clever, considering that not much actually rhymes with “fuck.” It’s like a test. A battle of wits. And at the end you’re either offended on a shallow level by mere language, or you’ve understood the satirical juxtaposition of a word that shouldn’t be offensive (but so often is) with words that are seemingly more benign but illustrate something far more disturbing.

That last sentence got a little out of control. Just listen to the damn song and you’ll see what I mean.

Politics aside, Minchin is an excellent pianist and a great singer (you’d think that would go without saying, but in the world of musical comedy a lot of people are funny or technically talented but not both). Apparently he doesn’t read music or write his stuff down. Which I find both impressive and annoying. I’m trying to learn his song Not Perfect on the ukulele. But when I went to look for the chords there were about 800 different versions because everybody who ever put one on the internet had to figure it out for themselves. Also, piano to guitar to ukulele is a bizarre little game of Telephone to play with chords. But it turned out ok, I think I’ve figured it out. (Now I just have to learn to sing. Duck and cover folks, this is not going to be pretty.) He’s super versatile, too. An incomplete list:

Satire (for lack of a better word) – Fuck the Poor, Woody Allen Jesus, Prejudice
Straightforward social commentary – Fat Children, Canvas Bags, Peace Anthem for Palestine
Love songs – If I Didn’t Have You, White Wine in the Sun, Drowned, You Grew On Me
Ridiculousness – Cheese, So Fucking Rock, Doctor Who theme song (performed on a keytar while wearing a Prince Charles mask – yes, I’m serious)
Beat poetry (for real) – Storm, Mitsubishi Colt
Musicals – Won an Olivier Award for his lyrics and music for the stage adaptation of Roald Dahl’s Matilda

That should keep you busy on the old YouTube for a bit. Mwahahahaaa. I’ve imposed my timesuck upon you. You’re welcome (unless you’re easily offended, in which case: don’t blame me, you clicked on that shit of your own free will). Tim Minchin’s blog and tour/merch/news/etc info are at timminchin.com. I’ll leave you with this one, because it’s my absolute favorite (insert obligatory “I’m not a pirate, all rights belong to the artist” blah blah – I couldn’t get it to embed, you’ll have to click on it, sorry): Tim Minchin – Rock and Roll Nerd

2 thoughts on “Logic! Science! Atheism! Pianos?

  1. The verbiage of this post flowed excellently with my hyper-caffinated mind-state. (Is that already an acceptable substitution for “state of mind”? If not, I shall make it so.) I appreciate your appreciation of musical comedians, though I have to add two people to your list that you may want to check out: Dar Williams–not strictly a comedian all the time, but very funny when she chooses to be (see “The Pointless, Yet Poignant, Crisis of a Co-ed”), and Pat McCurdy. The latter is a Milwaukee gem who may not be known outside of that limited region, but has a dedicated following thereabouts. Think Beliebers, but for a middle-aged guy of Irish extraction.

    Once again, you’ve provoked my thoughts and enhanced my workday. Thanks, woman.

    1. Anytime, Meg, anytime. I believe mind-state is acceptable, and if it’s not I’m stealing it anyway. And I will add your muso-comedians to my ever-growing list. I am already a Dar fan, but I don’t actually have much of her stuff. I’m going to have to break down and get iTunes, I think. Dangerous, that.

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