Musical comedians have an especially hard gig.
You have to be good at both comedy and music, often including being able to play an instrument and write a good song. When done well, however, this combination can be deadly. Music can be used to further emphasise or completely contrast a comedic point, creating a highly effective dynamic. Comedians can, and often do, utilise music to achieve so many unique performances, but there aren’t too many musical comedians who are household names. As I said, it’s a tough gig. Two comedians or musical comedians who I think are worth knowing because of their brilliant performances are Tim Minchin and Bo Burnham.
Tim Minchin is an Australian comedian, composer, musician, actor, writer and director. Clearly the man can wear many different hats. During his shows he is known for his iconic look which consists of wild hair, black eyeliner and bare feet contrasted with a button up shirt and black pants. I was first exposed to Tim Minchin at a young age as both my brothers liked him at the time. I specifically recall they were watching a video of his concert on the study room computer and I had come in to listen but was promptly kicked out as a song ‘inappropriate’ for my age came on. Obviously, little me hung around and listened through the door. The song in question is ‘The Pope Song’ and if you give it a listen you’d understand why my brothers kicked me out. If my parents found out I don’t think they would’ve been incredibly happy. That being said it definitely got me interested in his music and his comedy - so kicking me out kind of backfired.
Tim Minchin’s shows largely consist of comedy songs covering topics from social satire, love, religion and his own failed rock star dreams. Between songs he usually performs short stand-up routines, which sometimes further explore topics covered in songs prior. His songs are brilliant, both from a musical and a comedic standpoint. He has a unique way of mixing comedy and music whilst also often making societal commentary. I genuinely enjoy so many of his songs for very different reasons but highlights for me include:
- ‘Prejudice’, which points out the power which can be given to a word;
- ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Nerd’, a song poking fun at his own rock and roll dreams;
- ‘The Good Book’ (you can probably guess this song’s subject matter);
- ‘Cont or Context’, which is a cleverly written song about context (you have to stick through the whole song as name suggests); and
- ‘You Grew On Me’, a love song of sorts which tackles the idea of love at first.
Another favourite of mine would be the Matilda the Musical Soundtrack which Minchin composed and wrote lyrics for. It’s an awesome musical which you should check out if you can or at least give the soundtrack a listen. As a fan of his work, you can definitely hear his voice in the music.