Tim Minchin live review – sort of

Posted by on February 27, 2011 in Thoughts | 9 comments

Last night after some great pizza and wine, Hayley, her sister and I went to see Tim Minchin perform live at the Palais Theatre in St Kilda. It was great, by all accounts even if the only tickets I could get were in the upper, upper, upper, upper mezzanine, in row AA. I learned that the dress circle is not as glamourous as it sounds. The sound was a little lost by the time it had gone past fifty  rows of heads, and the air conditioning in the old building seemed to be non-existent. From our viewpoint Tim was a tiny dot on stage, but he was accompanied by the 57 piece Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, so he had no problem projecting his presence onto all of the 2800 people in attendance.

His songs varied from scathing attacks on the Pope, to his closing number, the favoured and tear-jerkingly sentimental piece about Christmas, “White Wine In The Sun”. His repertoire is wide ranging, but one of his favoured topics is one of organised religion and the role it has played in society, both historically and in the present day. Ha also launched into a song in which he omitted words on the first playing (he said his lyrics were partially covered), and which appeared to be a tirade of hate-speak against just about any minority or group you’d care to mention (such as “I really hate Jews. I really hate black people”). On second playing the lyrics revealed that the omitted words justified the dislike of certain people and their actions. At the end of this song, what appeared to be a quite drunken woman stood up and walked up to the stage saying things like “I can’t believe you, I’m so offended! Tim, but you have children!” While the woman was escorted from the, Tim , though a tad flustered and self aware, continued on is merry way, deriding the evil that is the institution of the Papacy, singing about cheese and red hair. Each song had its own brilliance to it, and Tim is an extraordinarily talented player. The highlight of the gig for me was his piece “Thank you God for fixing the cataracts of Sam’s Mum”, in which he juxtaposes the unlikelihood of a specific Church praying in a specific way at a specific time in to a specific god about a specific condition in a specific person being healed, rather than helping fix the masses of starving and impoverished in the world. Yes, thank you God.

One thing that stayed with me though, which I will explore here.

During the second act, Tim did a sketch piece where he was questioning what it is in people that makes them revere any holy books, be it The Koran, The Bible, The Hadith, comparing them to a Harry Potter novel. He premised it by talking  “that fuckwit” (his words) Pastor Terry Jones who I’ve spoken about before. If you don’t remember, he was the one who was threatening to burn copies of The Koran on the anniversary of 9/11, for no reason other than he thought it’s what God would want him to do.

His point was, according to him, that he was objecting to people telling him what to think or hold as sacred. That was his main point during this skit. Unfortunately I heard some people saying that THEY (the audience) objected to HIM preaching to them about what he thinks THEY should think. (Still with me?) The irony of this hit me like a brick, and it made me wonder. If anyone out there is a true freethinker, then they by definition should not be telling others how they see the world, right? Otherwise it’s just preaching, something which most freethinkers would object to. I’m not sure whether it’s because I read and hear a lot of freethinking books etc. that maybe I’m a bit desensitised to it, but I got his point straight away. Others thought he was being preachy.

The main point I want to make, or rather the main question I want to ask is this; “Can we assert our positions on the universe and existence without coming across as a know-it-all preacher? Will there always be room for alternate interpretations, even if what we are saying is essentially true?”

All in all though, the gig was sensational, and I can;t think of a better way to spend the last weekend of my 38th year than to go be a heathen amongst heathens, and have a good old chuckle while I’m at it. If you get a chance to see Tim Minchin perform, I’d highly recommend it.

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