Tim Minchin and his one-man show Darkside is everything I usually hate. Minchin sings his comedy, does some patter between songs, and even reads a poem. However, I had a great time and my guest was even more impressed by this Just For Laughs Montreal International Comedy Festival show part of its new Flying Solo series. This is a show for adults as the love song to a blow-up doll Inflatable You makes clear.
Tim Minchin, a hit in his native Australia and Edinburgh is a very talented and erudite musical comic whose agility to swing between light and dark in the same dark and funny song is impressive. Both his songs and music are interesting on an artistic level but what caught my attention is that both are sometimes willingly unpolished with quite a few forced rhymes and musical lines that somehow make Minchin that much more likeable and funny. This false awkwardness does not manage to hide a very sharp wordsmith and composer because although the seemingly autobiographical song Rock And Roll Nerd suggests Minchin wanted to be a rock star a la Peter Gabriel it is clear he delights in writing the kind of material he performs.
I enjoyed a large majority of the musical numbers in this show but, aside from Inflatable You, the number that really stood out was Peace Anthem For Palestine, a simple and very intelligent comment on the ever lasting situation in the Middle East. The other side of the pond language that, much like Guinness, does not travel well was a bit of a problem but nothing major.
The only problem with the show was the small audience. This was a case of the room being half full or half empty. The problem with a smallish audience is there is not much energy for the performer to feed off on, the audience is shy about participating fully, and the annoying lady from Montreal and her idiot boyfriend really stand out. Those two were so oblivious to how annoying they were that Minchin's many and at the end not too subtle hints (such as suggesting near the end of the show she was a c**t) went right over their empty heads.
The only thing that bummed me out this evening was the size of the audience. The Flying Solo series is a new venture for Just For Laughs. It allows comics whose material does not fit the 7-minute showcase format and whose audience is different from the mom and pop or younger couple having a night out bread and butter of the festival a place to perform and show their talent. This is a series of much edgier though not Nasty Show kind of performances. I really hope Just For Laughs will allow this series to grow and acquire the kind of word of mouth and loyal following I believe it will get.