Tim Minchin couldn’t be more chuffed to be the first live act to bring P&J Live back to life when he kicks off his UK tour there next month.
“Apparently, I’m playing a vaccine venue… I’m bringing medical benefits, inoculating people against ignorance and a lack of good pop tunes”, he said, speaking from his home in Sydney ahead of bringing his show Back Encore Tour to Aberdeen on October 16.
Joking apart, it was very much a conscious decision by the Australian comedian, musician, composer and writer to be back in Scotland as the country opens up again 18 months after the coronavirus epidemic plunged entertainment venues into darkness.
“Scotland especially and the UK, in general, was the place that first ‘got me’ so I feel that’s my home when it comes to comedy,” said Tim, who first won over fans at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2005, with his blend of music, comedy, satire and philosophical views on life in general.
“So I just really wanted to be part of this re-opening period. I’ve been away from the UK for two years … so I want to be part of that revival, so I’m really excited and to be starting in Scotland is really apt for me.”
10 years since Tim last played Aberdeen
That said, it’s been a while since Tim performed in front of his fans in Aberdeen… 10 years in fact, when he last played the AECC with his comedy and music show.
That was just as Matilida The Musical – for which he wrote the lyrics and music – was taking off and heading towards global phenomenon status as one of the most acclaimed musicals of the past 20 years. It scooped so many Tony, Olivier and other awards it made it into the Guinness Book Of Records.
“Well I retired (from comedy), I didn’t mean to, but I did deliberately take a step back from touring,” he said. “When Matilda took off I thought ‘oh, I can write seriously’ – not that comedy is not serious, and I take the craft of what I do on stage seriously.
“But there is this thing that comedy is sort of fleeting and self-indulgent. It’s like ‘how much did they love me tonight?’ and ‘what’s my take on this?’ I don’t know how good that is for your mental health.”
So Tim decided to concentrate on composing and other projects rather than going down the well-worn comedian’s path of panel shows, presenting and own TV shows.
“I intuitively didn’t necessarily want to do those things that mean you can never walk the streets again,” he said.
I really like writing TV scripts … I have taken to that like a duck to chocolate.”
Matilda was followed by his award-winning musical version of Groundhog Day, as well as writing and carving out a career on TV. That included his hugely popular series, Upright, lauded for its blend of comedy and melancholy running through the odd-couple, road trip narrative. He’s hoping to see Upright 2 become a reality, with him doing more of the writing.
Live performing is itch that won’t go away
“Of all the things that have slightly taken me by surprise in my career – the whole thing of which has taken me by surprise – is that I really like writing TV scripts. I have really taken to that like a duck to chocolate. So for now, that’s a big part of my forward movement.”
He describes his diverse projects as “scratching all these other itches” but there was still one big itch that remained.
“I found that not touring, not performing live, leaves a big ass hole in my brain. It’s something I did a lot for a lot of years and it’s an itch that doesn’t go away. So I’m stoked to be doing it again.”
Which leads us to Encore, the show arriving at P&J Live on October 16, with its tag line of “Old Songs, New Songs, F*** You Songs” when he’ll be scratching that itch in front of his north-east fans.
“The more people watching me scratch the more intimate itch, the happier I am.”
How quickly can I turn an audience from laughing with tears in their eyes, to tears in their eyes?”
The show, as the title suggests, is a blend of Tim’s classic material, new stuff, topics to make you think – and even cry, not just with laughter.
“This gig is the most bat shit crazy entertaining concert you’ve ever been to. Musically, it goes from really like arena rock to songs of my Apart Together album, which are about quirk and commentary,” he said.
Tim said the show follows the route of Upright, Matilda and Groundhog Day in mixing comedy with moments that can deeply move an audience.
From tears of laughter to tears in their eyes
“How thin can I make the blade I’m walking along, how quickly can I turn an audience from laughing with tears in their eyes, to tears in their eyes?” he said.
“But there will be lots of new stand up that’s just stupid sex jokes and stuff as well. People love it, well they seem to, and we love doing it.”
Not that he’s forgotten his acclaimed musicals… don’t be surprised if When I Grow Up from Matilda and Seeing You from Groundhog Day make an appearance.
Tim, who has played Aberdeen many times, graduating from the Lemon Tree to the Music Hall, then AECC and now P&J Live, is also looking forward to returning to the Granite City and having a bite to eat.
“I always associate Aberdeen with steak, but I can’t remember last time we were there where we went. So my fans can feel welcome to recommend your favourite steak restaurant. I’m looking forward to it.”
How to get tickets for Tim Minchin
Restaurant recommendations apart, Tim just wants his fans to have a great time with him.
“I think everyone deserves a night out. And I promise you, I won’t bang on about Covid because I’m not interested in it. My job is to take you away from you know, the minutiae of day-to-day news cycles.
“I will still lecture people about logical philosophy, but if you like me, you know you’re going get a bit of that anyway.
“So come along, have a couple of drinks, and have a really good night. Leave the stressy bit of your brain at home and bring the singy bit instead.”
Tickets for Tim Minchin’s Encore are available at pandjlive.com