The title of Perrier Best Newcomer is not always a guarantee of great things to come. One or two of the recipients have gone on to great things, but some have fallen by the wayside and most simply went on to be jobbing comedians. Few, surely, have ended up, just three years later, filling one of the largest regular venues on the Fringe.
Such is Tim Minchin’s talent that it is hard to believe that it can only have been three years. But so meteoric has been his rise that, with this, his third Fringe show, with a documentary film about his life already under his belt, this is beyond doubt one of the hot tickets of the year.
Which is a lot of pressure to put on someone so, relatively speaking, inexperienced. And as a musical comedian, it must be equally difficult to leave behind songs that have served him long and well, especially with loyal fans who would have been just as happy with another outing of Inflatable You and Canvas Bag.
But this is an all new show. Nothing borrowed from earlier shows, nothing recycled. And once again, Minchin has come up trumps with a set of songs which range from the silly and fun to the complex and thought-provoking. If there is a disappointment in the show it is maybe that the opening “Ready For This” song is a little too reminiscent of the previous “So Rock” from his last show, with a similar “pretend instrument” theme to it.
But that’s just a niggle, a minor blip in another all-round triumph which can only enhance Minchin’s reputation. It’s a show in which he appears to be airing a few general grievances, working through some of the things that bug him in life, whether it be religious fundementalists trying to tell him how to be a good person, new age hippie idealism and the rejection of science, or just intolerance that he is subjected to on a more, shall we say, hirsute level.
Minchin is really a comic who entertains on every level. His show combines superb physical comedy and slapstic with amazing verbal dexterity and virtuoso musicianship, and even some risk taking as there are few who would have the guts to hand over nine whole minutes of their hour long show to a beat poem which is, in essence, just a single extended joke.
But it works, and does so superbly, blending with all the other elements to create what would, if I were the kind of reviewer to give out stars, be the first this year to receive all five of them. Minchin is unmissable, and long may he remain so. It will take something special if I am going to see another show this year as good as this one.