Tim Minchin

On this date in 1975, Timothy David Minchin was born in Northampton, England, to Australian parents. On his website, Minchin describes himself as “a comedian, actor, composer, songwriter, pianist, musical director and huge rock n roll megastar.” Minchin grew up in Perth, Australia, where he attended the University of Western Australia, and received a Bachelor of Arts in English and Theater in 1995. He went on to obtain an advanced degree in contemporary music at the Conservatorium of Western Australia in 1998. In 2002, he began his career as a musical comedian in Melbourne, Australia, in stage shows where he sings original songs while accompanying himself on piano as well as incorporating more traditional stand-up elements. Minchin came to prominence at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival in 2005, and went on to win the Perrier Newcomer Award at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival that same year. He lives in London, and continues to tour the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and North America. He has also written the book and lyrics for the Royal Shakespeare Company's adaptation of Roald Dahl's "Matilda," which premiered in Stratford-upon-Avon in December 2010.

Minchin is outspoken in his opposition to religion, as well as to nonscientific claims made by New Age groups and others. His comedy and songs cover a wide range of topics, from love and sex to political controversies and language use, but a primary focus is on religion. Many of his songs contain strong language, but some are safe for radio play, including “Peace Anthem for Palestine,” which Minchin says sums up his views on religious conflict: “We don't eat pigs, you don't eat pigs, it seems it's been that way forever. So if you don't eat pigs and we don't eat pigs, why not not eat pigs together?” He does express a fondness for the music of his upbringing in the Anglican Church of Australia, as well as the secular and family aspects of Christmas in the southern hemisphere, in his 2009 single, “White Wine in the Sun.” But its hard-hitting lyrics created a firestorm in Australia when his song was released as part of a charitable seasonal album in 2010. Themes of Minchin's work include his contempt for unscientific thinking, such as the song, “If You Open Your Mind Too Much Your Brain Will Fall Out (Take My Wife),” and the beauty of scientific thinking, as in the short comedy routine, “Tony the Fish.”

“And yes I have all of the usual objections
To the miseducation of children who, in tax-exempt institutions,
Are taught to externalize blame
And to feel ashamed and to judge things as plain right and wrong
But I quite like the songs . . . ”

—Tim Minchin, “White Wine in the Sun,” 2009

Compiled by Eleanor Wroblewski

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