A songwriter, comedian, pianist, actor, and writer, Tim Minchin's initial aspirations leaned more toward music and acting than his breakthrough field of comedy. In his hometown of Perth, he completed an Advanced Diploma in Contemporary Music and recorded an album called Sit with his first band, Timmy the Dog, before moving to Melbourne. In Melbourne he joined a covers band as a keyboardist, acted in the theater and, on the side, performed his own cabaret show for a year-and-a-half. His solo shows contained a fair number of humorous songs simply because he was unable to stay serious while writing them. The crowds these shows attracted were often very small and he couldn't get any journalists interested in covering them. Eventually he decided to take all of the funny songs and put together a musical comedy show in an attempt to get it out of his system so that he could concentrate on serious music, performing Dark Side as part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival in 2005. He even created a new persona for the show, with dark eyeliner, no shoes, a long coat, and chemically straightened hair, giving him license to act like the rock star he now resembled while also satirizing his own rock star ambitions -- and by extension the manufactured rock star image in general.
Dark Side won the Festival Director's Award and he was asked to bring the show to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, where it was a surprise success, winning Minchin a Perrier Comedy Award in the Best Newcomer category. A Dark Side album was released that year and he relocated to England with his wife to pursue comedy professionally, as it had suddenly become far more profitable than any of his other aspirations. This sudden rise to fame was documented by his friend Rhian Skirving in her movie Rock n Roll Nerd (with a score by Jackson Jackson), and in return Minchin provided music for another of her documentaries, The Kindness of Strangers.
Minchin's next shows, So Rock and Ready for This: Live at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, were even more successful. Both were turned into albums released in 2005 and 2009, respectively. Now it was acting and serious music that he dabbled in on the side, appearing in the Australian movie Two Fists, One Heart and composing music for theater, in between his television and radio appearances as a musical comedian.
His theater work included another career breakthrough with the Royal Shakespeare Company-produced musical adaptation of Roald Dahl's Matilda. Matilda: The Musical opened in Stratford-Upon-Avon in late 2010 before moving to the West End in October 2011. The show was a critical and commercial hit, winning seven Olivier Awards in 2012, including Best New Musical. It opened on Broadway in 2013 and went on to win five Tony Awards; Minchin was nominated for his music and lyrics.
In the meantime, he continued to record comedy albums, with Live at the O2 arriving in 2010. In April 2011, he released Tim Minchin & the Heritage Orchestra Recorded Live, Manchester Arena UK, a performance of comedy songs presented without standup material and with a 55-piece orchestra. Later that year, as his popularity spread, Ready for This became a Top Ten comedy album in the U.S. In 2012, he was cast as Judas in a tour of the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical Jesus Christ Superstar that visited the U.K. and Australia. Jesus Christ Superstar: Live Arena Tour arrived on Universal Studios Home Entertainment in 2013. The same year, he had a recurring role on the sixth season of the David Duchovny TV series Californication. He made his debut in the world of publishing with a book of humorous poetry called Storm in 2014. It featured illustrations by Elle Turner and a foreword by Neil Gaiman.
The award-winning writer of show tunes, Minchin set to work on another musical, an adaptation of the 1993 film Groundhog Day. He emerged in February 2016 with the stand-alone single "Come Home (Cardinal Pell)." The song, which criticized Pell's appearance at a Royal investigation into institutional child abuse via a link from Rome instead of in person, reached number 11 in Australia. This time looking behind the scenes at the preparation of Matilda, another Skirving documentary about Minchin, Matilda & Me, saw release by Madman Entertainment in the spring of 2016. That summer, Groundhog Day: The Musical had its world premiere at the Old Vic in London. It opened on Broadway in April 2017, and the original Broadway cast recording followed on Masterworks Broadway in May. ~ Jody Macgregor & Marcy Donelson