Tim Minchin and the Heritage Orchestra Review
Directed by Matt Askem
Written by Tim Minchin
Release Date: April 2011
Running Time: 153 minutes
Editor’s Rating: 4 rock and roll nerds out of 4
Have you ever wondered what it’s like to have all of your dreams come true? I think it looks a lot like a comedian who plays piano doing his thing while sharing the stage with a 60-piece orchestra.
Tim Minchin is a guy whose sense of humor isn’t for everyone, but it’s absolutely amazing for who it is for. He’s sharp, quick, and intelligent without being above a potty mouth, and he does it all to the tune of his own unique style of music, which is like Elton John meets beat poetry meets George Carlin. To call his stuff “stand-up comedy” makes the grammar nazi in me cringe, because if I was to be completely honest about it, it’s more of a “standy-uppy-sitty-downy-singy-play-y comedy,” but that doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue. He’s got a vibrant and manic energy that’s matched by his wild-eyed stage look.
From his first song, there’s an element of the theatrical that Tim’s show embraces that continues throughout, a cabaret-style mood that’s fun and awkward. The bits Tim does when he’s not singing come across as carefully-constructed awkwardness with a hint of shy and introverted tossed in for good measure. But when he hits the piano, his eyes light up and he blasts the crowd with skillful musicianship and excellently-constructed fart jokes, or jokes about the pope, or jokes about God.
It’s a real treat to listen to, songs from this piece have been on my Pandora queue long before I saw the performance live, but seeing it live gives one a much closer sense of just how big of an affair it was. 5,272 people fit into the Royal Albert Hall, where this was filmed. Sixty people doesn’t sound like much, but when you see them all playing an instrument they’ve spent their entire lives mastering they become more than a pretty noise in a song.
Now, if Tim’s act was just a bunch of silly songs and potty language, I doubt he would have gotten as far as he has. For all of his attitude and hubris his songs have, they have their counterparts in very heartfelt pieces of music as well. Songs like “Not Perfect” and “White Wine in the Sun” still tend to be amongst his most popular hits because if there’s one thing Tim does better than being funny, it’s beautifully expressing what it means to be a human being, celebrating our collective flaws and acknowledging the little things that bring us all together.
And I guess that’s why I found myself rooting for Tim, even if he doesn’t need it. Tim Minchin and the Heritage Orchestra is a great example of an artist doing exactly what he’s wanted to all his life, and the excitement he exudes in his performance is enough to make one want to chase it for themselves.
** I watched this special using a streaming service I pay for. I was not compensated for this review.**
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