Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Tim Minchin: Ready For This? (2010)

Whether or not you take into account that there is only one man on stage, Ready For This? has one of the most high-energy introductions you're likely to see anywhere, particularly at what is ostensibly a comedy show. Tim Minchin spent a number of years laboring in comedic obscurity, and ever since he decided to become a 'Rock 'N Roll Comedian' in an effort to be more famous, he's gone to great lengths to live up to that moniker. However, once he grabs your attention, he then spends a great deal of time earning and keeping it with clever, witty lyrics to catchy, often poignant songs. Combining elements of beat poetry, musical comedy, and a healthy dose of Jimi Hendrix (just without the drugs and alcohol), Minchin comes up with a unique one man show that is incredibly entertaining. Oh yeah, and he's one hell of an amazingly talented piano player as well.

Minchin has evolved his act over the years, and now, in addition to all of the songs, there is a great deal more of him bantering in a seemingly random way to the audience between numbers. It's mostly scripted material of course, but he's such an excellent performer that he can make it seem almost off the cuff as he leads you down philosophical monologues designed to bridge the gap to the next song...and make you laugh at the same time. His impeccable sense of comedic timing is on display in both song and talk, as he knows just when to pause for effect between words, and perhaps more importantly, for how long.

Filmed in front of a sold-out Hammersmith Apollo theater in London in October 2009, the size of the venue afforded Minchin the opportunity to pull out all the stops and have the full rock star performance that he's always wanted to. And yet, some of the funniest moments come from the smallest and subtlest of gestures, looks, and winks. The dichotomy of the performance enjoyment is akin to the multiple levels of depth within his material.

There are a few songs here that have seen the light of day on other Minchin DVD's, but the vast majority of the material is committed to the format for the first time. And even things that have seen the light of day on previous releases (Canvas Bags, Dark Side) are expanded or looked at in a slightly different way. His material works well on multiple levels, for while you are laughing at the overtly silly nature of it, there is an underlying quality of substance underneath. It works in both directions though, for while the show has many of the rock 'n roll concert staples like big flashing lights and smoke, those same things are being poked fun at in several numbers. It's the fact that he is aware of how silly and stupid it all is that makes reveling in it that much more fun. You get out of his show what you're willing to put into it. If you stop at the superficial, you'll enjoy it; but if you dig a little deeper, you'll be a lifelong fan.

Didn't say that either...

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