Tim Minchin made his name as a comedic firebrand, saying - or rather - singing thoughts and ideas that others couldn't. Or wouldn't.

He courted controversy, invited it even, as he challenged convention and fought the social injustice he saw.

After a seven-year gap from the stage to detour into musicals and to chase the Hollywood dream, Minchin is back and bringing a new show to New Zealand for a few dates in April.

Titled Back, he's says the show is currently a work in progress.


The problem, he says, is working out how to be a positive and progressive voice in today's political climate. He makes no bones about the fact that as a former provocateur, he's puzzled on how to proceed.

This, then, is Minchin on Minchin.

On his new show

I'm still writing it. I've subtitled it "New Songs, Old songs, F*** You songs" because I don't quite know what it's going to be yet. I don't want to know because I want to see what happens over the next six months.

On F*** you songs

These days with everyone being so angry on the internet I'm not sure if being angry is as effective as it was when I first started doing comedy.
I was a musical polemicist and now everyone's screaming. I'm not sure what to do with that. But I know people come to my shows expecting me to give voice to some of the frustrations that nice, happy, progressive people like me have with the world. I have an instinct to be provocative. I've written a couple of songs this year that have a bit of "f*** you".

On being a satirist today

The big question is, how does satire work in this world now? Given that everyone's got a voice, it's the age of the democratisation of information through digital technology. That means women can rise up and people of colour can rise up and these stories are much more present to us. And that's great.
But also it means there's just noise. Noise, noise, noise, noise. Brilliant noise from beautifully articulate people, funny people, screaming people, angry people , deplorables … The question is, how does satire work in that environment?


On how satire works in that environment
I did a little parody song for Marriage Equality Australia called I Still Call Australia Homophobic. The lyrics were good, it was a good gag and it served its function of getting people laughing at what was an awful period in Australian political history; voting on the human rights of LGBT people.
But everyone who didn't agree with it just felt attacked by me calling them bigots, which I was doing in a humorous way. But the fact that it was a clever rhyme didn't matter. They just felt attacked. And… f*** 'em.

On not actually f***ing 'em
I don't actually feel "f*** 'em". I feel like, "Is my satire just another thing driving a wedge, pushing out people into silos of opposition that are artificial?."
It's an artificial binary. Why the hell is there a binary? There shouldn't be a binary. It's just crazy. Just because you're right-wing shouldn't mean you don't believe climate science data. They're unrelated. To say, "I'm an economic conservative therefore I don't believe the science on climate change." Why do they land like that? I'm worried that satire doesn't help.

On hysterical lefties

Everyone's on edge. The tough thing to do now, as a progressive, is mock ourselves. We're not doing a great job. We find it very hard to get any distance form the things we care about. And I include myself, maybe I'm not helping.
I want to laugh at us. But as a white, cis-gendered, heterosexual male being able to laugh at the fact that we progressives are pretty hysterical would now be defined as not checking my privilege.
It's a weird time. I'm gonna do it though. My job is to entertain.

On checking himself before he wrecks himself
The point of privilege and the notion of mansplaining is that sometimes I definitely feel like I should shut up. That's it functioning. That's the notion of privilege functioning. To stop people like me doing what I'm doing now which is pontificating.
But what you want to do is be on the right side of history. You want to speak for the less powerful, but I don't think speaking for the less powerful at this stage of history is necessarily the same as being utterly uncritical of progressivism.
We need to get our house in order, man. We spread shit memes and we look at one side of the story and we do all the stuff … we're driving the right further right by playing their games. Progressivism should be the side of facts and data and cool headedness. Of course, that's easy for me to say.

On getting woke
The left is eating itself. I get get criticism from the left as often as I do from the right. That's fine. I can take a note. I've made mistakes before. In my early career especially I made jokes that I definitely wouldn't now. We need to be able to learn. And not by attacking people for something they said 10 years ago. We're not all born woke.
I come from Perth, Western Australia. The whitest place in the world. Went to an all boys school and basically grew up receiving homophobia and racism. And I had to learn. And I'm still learning. I hope the progressive moment understands that people learn at different rates.
The people I call bigots in I Still Call Australia Homophobic, that was funny, but they just haven't read the books I've read. Or had the privilege of having a whole lot of LGBT friends. They just haven't got the stuff I've got.
They are bigots - if you think a gay person doesn't deserve everything you've got then I think you're a bit of a bigot.
But how do you reach out across the divide to them? And how do progressives make sure they keep reaching out across their own divides within progressivism?

On putting all if this into a funny four-minute song
When I'm on stage I'm funnier than when I'm in an interview. When I'm in front of an audience I tend to find ways to talk about this stuff but I have to be very careful about how I talk about it. It's an interesting time to be privileged and be on the record. My job is to discuss ideas in a time when, justifiably, big-mouth privileged c***s like me are being told just to shut up a bit. And I think that's important. But what else do I do?

Who: Tim Minchin
What: Performing Back: Old songs, New songs, F**k you songs live
When: This April