It’s not easy remaining topical, funny, and entertaining while also not-so-subtly promoting skepticism and atheism, but Minchin pulls it off like a direct descendant of Tom Lehrer. The video above is a perfect example, from a 2011 show Minchin did at the Royal Albert Hall in London, backed up by the 55-piece Heritage Orchestra. If you like that, you can stream the entire concert via Amazon Prime Video.
I’ve written about Minchin before, particularly his performance of “Woody Allen Jesus” (which was recorded for — but not allowed to air on — Jonathan Ross’ UK chat show) and his brilliant beat poem, “Storm,” about an encounter with a woman who believes all sorts of nonsense and his efforts to rebut her anti-science garbage with rational thinking (watch him perform it here). Since then, Minchin has written the music and lyrics for two Broadway shows, “Matilda” (based on Roald Dahl’s book) and “Groundhog Day” (based on you know what).
I recently bought his new album, “Apart Together.” After a couple of listens, I continue to marvel at the cleverness of both his words and music.
Of course, I’m a sucker for any lyricist who, while sitting through turbulence on a flight, writes “If This Plane Goes Down” on a bunch of cocktail napkins. Or uses the word “entropy” in the middle of a tune about an elderly couple who froze to death in their mobile home (the title track). Then there’s “Airport Piano,” in which he encounters a random piano in an airport on the way to his gate, sits down to play it, and composes a song about the silliness of the situation and the way other passengers just walked right by him (though one did tip him).
This is a video he did for James Corden’s CBS show, “Talked Too Much and Stayed Too Long,” a song from the new album in which Minchin describes himself as a “love child of Liberace and Edward Scissorhands.”