One, two, one, two, I'm recording. Oh, there he is. Oh, look, you're very well let there, Tim. Oh, my, well, that yeah, you're all sort of in a lovely blue wash. Oh, is it blue?
Yeah, I guess that's just my computer screen glowing. It's very nice. There is there are some nice lights in this room you're meeting. Should start in a few seconds when I put this over here. So I'm looking in the right direction and then I'll go and check that my audio is going and it is so much better, less than I am.
Do we swear? Oh yeah.
You can say whatever you like. You've done this before, though, right?
Spoken to a Scottish man, the duvet behind him. It's not a duvet. It's a children's mattress class. Yeah. How is Australia today are raining in Sydney?
I can't speak for the whole of Australia. It's a fuckin big place. Yeah. And, uh. I got to say, I think maybe I'm hitting the I was really enjoying the lockdown. Oh, yes, I was enjoying all of it. I mean, not the tens of thousands of deaths, but the. Yeah. Vibe. Yeah, but I'm starting to go a bit and starting to wear me down, I think.
Well, this will pick you up. Yeah. Well it depends what you ask me and what you tell me. So we should probably start properly then should we.
Haven't we started. No, this is it. Oh yes. Much better than this.
David Tennant does a podcast with Tim Minchin. So, Tim, hi, thank you for joining me across the world. It's a pleasure. It's really it is a pleasure. I'm thrilled.
Well, so far, I'm thrilled. You are difficult to introduce to summarize, because I tend to spill drinks on people through because you're quite difficult to professionally categorize.
What what are you currently describing your job as after you refused to be drawn?
I think it depends on you know, I have a sort of pretentiousness dial or a self-congratulatory dial, and it depends on whether I'm trying to impress someone or annoy them. But if someone at an airport asked me what I do, I say I'm a musician.
OK, I've heard you talk about being Macra ambitious, which I thought was an interesting phrase about how you you reject the idea of having a sort of unique life goal that you are travelling towards. Yeah. And and about passionately pursuing what's right in front of you is the phrase which I quite liked.
I guess I spoke about that in in the context of trying to give advice, which I always think is really hard, because the only advice in the art you can give anyone is be one of the lucky ones.
But and work work bloody hard and and under the umbrella of work bloody hard. I, I have for a while reflecting on what I did.
The only advice I can give is don't get distracted by the big picture because the big picture, you know, it's what you think you want is not what you want apart from anything else, especially in the entertainment industry, the fame and wealth that actually is an adoration that is driving a lot of young artists is actually not the thing that is satisfying in the end.
If you get anywhere and I think you'll agree. Yeah, although you only find out that fame and wealth is not particularly satisfying by getting it. So it's a bit of a skewed sample group.
But I do think especially because of the Internet and the way we consume pop culture and stuff people think, and it's very American as well.
One day I'm going to have my name up in lights, so I'm going to be on Broadway. I'm going to be a film star. Whereas because I grew up in Perth and all those things were so far out of reach, they might as well have been science fiction.
I, I didn't have a choice but to concentrate hard on what I was doing. And I think people make the mistake of thinking it's Broadway or bust, when actually if you just work really hard on being a fantastic singer actor rather than a Broadway star, then you might get to Broadway and you will have got there by concentrating on being a fantastic singer actor. Or you might start a theatre company for underprivileged kids in your hometown and realize that actually that was what you were built for.
But if you have Broadway or bust as your ambition, then you then you're in trouble because humans hate thwarted expectations more than anything.
So would you say that you're the prodigious amounts of success you've achieved in a variety of areas has happened accidentally then because you focused on one at a time?
There's been a sort of. Yeah, without a doubt. Yeah, yeah, OK, yeah, without a doubt, I am my ambition's I hear a bunch of kids these days going one day I want to be blah, blah, blah. I was I was well into my 20s and had written four or five or six scores for theater before I even considered the possibility that I might be able to be an artist as a job.
Oh really? But just how I was brought up, I just didn't I didn't think I was. I have no sense of entitlement. I do now well, and I've developed now, I think I deserve everything, every single little jot of it.
And you do. Does that mean that rob you of having an identifiable moment of when you think, well, I've done it, I've arrived?
Does that not exist for you or do you have those little moments on a sort of on oh, I don't know if I have been robbed of it, but it certainly doesn't exist for me. And it's a bit of a problem. I think I have trouble with my mindfulness, with my stopping and smelling the roses, because my career as a result of a sort of insatiable need to keep proving myself to nobody in particular. Right.
And an absolute love of the work and of a sort of because I never thought one day I'll be this or that or I never thought I'm going to have a career as big as this or that, or I never really thought anything. I just go, Oh, I can do that now. Well, I should. And and now that I'm at that level, I should work harder and I could be at that level, you know, it's slightly the goalposts.
So are you restless. Are you restless for the next thing when you're doing the current thing or do you manage to be very specifically focused, even though I'm pretty focused on what I'm doing.
But but I find it very hard to have a couple of weeks off after something and go nailed that, you know. I certainly would find it hard to have a year off like some people. Yeah, well, how about you?
Did you have a moment where you went? Okay, I pretty much kicked it in the dick. Now everything I do is a bonus.
Oh, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. I'm always waiting for it to the bottom to fall over, without a doubt, because that's then that comes like I'm sure like you that comes from a very I think a very specific Scottish Presbyterian upbringing that makes you believe you're not worthy of any of it anyway.
So, yeah, but I, I you're a bit sick of everyone saying they've got imposter syndrome is a bit of a boring. It is boring but I absolutely identify feels a bit humbly. Yeah. Pretty humble. Yeah I know we've all got it but it's a bit boring now.
Has been done. Imposter syndrome has been done. We need to move. Yeah.
I think you're intending to have your imposter's of imposter's now.
I just think, I don't know if it's the most interesting way to describe it. Ah the most um informative word.
Yeah. I think it's churlish to describe yourself in that way to a lot of people are thinking, fuck you, I want what you've got. I'll have a bit of it.
Not only that, but you're, you know, someone like you saying, ah, I've got imposter syndrome.
It's a bit like, well, get over it and stop being a wanker because because you have plenty of evidence that you are good at your craft, you know.
And I know what you mean because I have imposter syndrome too, I guess.
But I but it's kind of the. Are humble Bragi side of it, because I do have imposter syndrome and think I'm incredibly lucky, but I also think half my time, oh, that guy is not as good as me. I'm better than that. You know, half the time I'm going. I haven't been credited enough for how good that was. Sure. And you only get to where where we have got or I won't speak for you, but to where I've got it here.
You've got a bit of a chip on your shoulder and you you keep trying to get better.
Yeah, but you're absolutely right. But of course, that would indicate that those psychological conditions have to be consistent with each other, which.
No, that's right. And I think that's what I don't like about imposter syndrome, because it makes it sound like that's the main thing. Yeah. And I want everyone to go. Yes. Half the time. I think I don't deserve this, but half the time I'm a megalomaniacal, you know, like I don't even think I'm particularly megalomaniacal for an artist.
But I know they're all we all humans are solipsist by nature.
And we we're always presenting a brand.
And there's a part of me that is genuinely, incredibly grateful and genuinely humble and stuff. And there's a part of me that's sort of furious Tasmanian devil of a thing kind of wanting to be better and wanting to be seen to be better.
And it's a fight, you know. Yeah, it's interesting, actually, that you say that because I was thinking about your stage persona, which is which is kind of a mixture of the two, isn't it? Certainly a voyeur when you're on stage as a as a comic cabaret artist, whatever, however you describe it, there's a sort of slightly there's almost a naive quality to that sometimes, isn't there?
And yet you will then dive into a very angry song about the childhood.
Certainly in the early days, I was doing a sort of wide eyed, yes. Dentally judgmental guy.
These days he's closer to me, which means he can be laconic and romantic and eviscerating angry and he can talk incredibly fast and then, yeah, have a bunch of space, which is why I love that's why I have loved getting back to touring.
I didn't tour for a long, long time. And I sort of thought maybe, maybe that was just a phase of my life and I wouldn't do it. But I'm so glad I got back to it, because then you do get to set your own rules.
It's because I saw your last year, as you know, and it was I think it was more of a music show than before. It was less less of a do you feel like you're moving away from not abandoning comedy? But do you think as you get I suppose I'm wondering is is the need to be funny, a sort of neediness that you need less as you feel more sure of who you are?
I think it's a really good question, and I think the answer is yes, basically. But for me, maybe also being funny was just how I got a career psychologist myself, a career, but I basically retired and certainly I have done a lot more not comedy than comedy in my life.
If you add up. Yeah, my musicals and my acting gigs and my even within my comedy shows, even right back then, even in the orchestra show, there's the fence and well, actually the whole thing was a bit of a scam because over half the material is not really a punch line. I always got away with calling it comedy because people had a rollicking good time and laughed at my rants. But no, I'm a musician.
I do I do really entertaining concerts and always have. And I am adamant that I don't have to be funny if I don't feel like it. Mm hmm. Which is very entitled of me. But people came away from my last tour having had just as good a time, I think. Oh sure. Yeah. I called it old songs. New songs. Fuck you songs basically because I was saying this is about songs.
I'm going to say it three times in the title and it's even going to say fuck you because the fuck you is slightly if you come expecting something and it's not what you expected. Fuck you. I'm doing what I'm doing now.
Yeah. Timothy David mentioned, yes, David, to rather biblical names for such an outspoken atheist, very, very Old Testament.
Were you brought up in a religious household? Are not really.
My my my dad's a surgeon and his dad's a surgeon, but they were gentle Anglicans, you know, like everyone. But, you know, we were Christmas and every second Easter churchgoers and I went to an Anglican school for 11 years where we went to chapel every day for primary school and once a week in high school.
Quite a posh school, right? Yeah. Posh school for Australian standards.
So what was the upbringing like? So I'm a third fourth generation private school boy.
An interesting thing about being Australian and moving to England is everyone thinks you're working class because to the English, Australians are working class.
I mean, we just are. Yeah, and it's quiet.
In fact, I'm impervious to condescension just because I don't notice it, because I'm too busy talking.
But I did eventually go, ah, you're all looking down on me.
And even to the extent that people go, Oh, he's such an Aussie comic, I'm like, I've never mentioned my comedy is utterly non parochial.
Yeah, it is sex, God and death. Right. Yeah. But I do realize eventually that.
I was a novelty, you know, even when I was being invited to the embassy or to meet the fucking queen or, you know, when we did that thing with Prince Charles, I did eventually sort of realize that the English basically say the Australians as working class whilst acknowledging my privilege at being able to say this.
It is the case. We don't have the accent reaction, the absolute stratified assumptions based on accent and geography that you guys have.
We do not have it. Yeah, but it's lovely to come to England and to be able to talk to a plumber or a prince.
Literally, no one goes, oh, did you go to a boys private school for 11 years? Yeah. They just don't have a place for you so they don't put me in a place. It's really a massive bonus. I think you're right.
I think we don't have a sense of a class structure in Australia, possibly because there isn't one or certainly not to the same extent.
But I suppose it's we don't read the accent, so we just assume the default position is definitely you would you would the British would not have a sense of a posh Australia.
No, you're absolutely right. No, we yeah. You work you guys work in bars. And that's it. Pretty much.
And by the way, if I am a posh Australian, I'm an Australian who got their education paid for and got 500 bucks towards his first car. And that's it. Yeah.
You know, I have lugged bags of cement and demolished buildings and worked wash dishes. And of course, I mean, it's I don't know what Posh means in Britain, but there's no you know, Daddy didn't get me my first job in composing. No, no.
Sure. Sure. It would have liked you to become a sergeant. Now he loves it.
Does he? I don't know how how it's been for you, but in my case, my my parents are not perfect, I suppose. But every year that goes by, I go, ah, fuck. They got that right to or I go, oh wow. They obviously really consciously decided that. Right.
You know what I mean. Yeah. As a parent, do you find that you go, oh, I just assumed that was my parent's default position but they obviously made a choice there.
Yeah. That's weird, right. Yeah. And that's because that's the act of being a parent. Makes you realise that retrospectively.
Absolutely. Yeah. I just think fuck it's so much harder to get right than I thought. Yeah. So my daughter's thirteen now and I'm just going oh I thought I was nailing it. I just maybe I've blown the whole thing.
Oh no. Thirteen. Oh it's, it's all, it's all about to go in the next few years are. Oh good luck. You're all you've got to cling onto the remembrance of what that noise inside your head was at that age.
You know, that kind of roaring you guys just you and George just seem like the most normal people. And I feel like we're the most normal people. And we've certainly made decisions that I hope are like your decisions. We've I've made lots of career decisions to make sure I'm not that I've limited how much I'm in the spotlight and. Moving back to Australia, which is obviously not the best thing for my career, but is a good thing for my family and stuff, but I, I can't help but think that the worst possible thing for a child is to have a famous parent.
Yeah, it's just I just think it's fundamentally a shit. What do you what do you think I. It's a very good question. I mean, obviously there are certain advantages to which you can exploit by getting them to places and get them to see things now and again. But I can't I mean, it's still far from the upbringing I had that I have no sense of that. George is has a better perspective on that because her parents were actors and quite successful actor.
So she was you know, she knew what it was like to be chased down the street by photographers when she was eight.
And whereas for me that day, you know, but yes, we definitely try and protect them from that as much as possible because it's not.
Yeah, it's not nice. Whether it's healthy or not, I don't know.
But it's not nice as a kid psychologically becoming aware that other people see your parents as different, as iconic in some way.
Like I worry about what that does to your own ability to form a sense of perspective regarding your own ambitions or what you think it is to have a life, a successful life or.
I don't know. I suppose it depends on the personality of I guess it does and really depends on what they end up wanting to do, either because a music means so much to me and there's so much music in our house.
Yeah, but I don't want my kids to feel like I'm not the greatest pianist in the world. But there's definitely a level of sort of physical ability that would be threatening, you know, if you watched me play in your house, you think or how the fuck am I going to get there?
Yeah, I really want them to have music in their life. And me, they're violent, violent plays and sings, plays, piano and sings.
And she's she's doing fine, you know, she's sort of like I was she's not that she's a bit lazy. And I it all came quite late to me. So it's all totally fine. But I find it very hard not to go by. That's a major you're playing a major over. You're singing them like it's unbearable to me and I and she really reacts badly to that. I write to let them do it.
Yeah. So what was the music that you grew up loving? Was it musical theatre?
I'm not even sure. I was particularly into music. I don't know. I find the fact that I'm a musician extraordinarily surprising. I really do. I mean, I guess I love Sgt. Pepper's and I love Jazzy Superstar and I love the Big Chill soundtrack and that the fifteen records my parents had. But we had this pianola, you call it a pianola. The Americans call it a player piano. Oh, I don't know what we call that. Are you pedal and the and the.
Yes. Yes, I know what you mean. Yeah. I think there'll be some stupid Scottish. Well there.
Yeah I do think we had them in Scotland. That sounds like an English invention. Yeah. But yeah.
So there was that this 100 year old piano which I kind of channeled a bit when I wrote my TV show Upright right. At about an old piano but ah. Look, there was plenty of music and a hell of a lot of it's down to my big brother because my big brother really loved music and learned guitar and just really wanted me to learn the songs he was learning so he could play them together. Right. And then my sisters, we'd all sing harmonies and we really got into it.
Did you have, like, a capacity for language? Did you were you aware that you could form an argument or English an OK from last year for writing poems?
Like I'd always get the Gold Star thing on the board and the writing poems. And then somewhere in my teens, I could suddenly play blues scales really fast with my eyes closed, which I would do at parties so that someone would kiss me. Sure.
Well, why else would you do. Exactly. Yeah. So you're not as you as indeed you said you were never going. I want to be Laurence Olivier. I want to be Stephen Sondheim.
You're just sort of bumbling along at some point. It struck me that. I could play piano a bit and that people found it impressive.
And I've always thought I could act a bit, but my insecurity about that was resolved this year and the last year, you know, like no one said, oh, you're a talented actor, you should audition for this.
And no one said, oh, you're a talented musician, have a scholarship. And I wasn't brought up by people who said you're special.
And so it just took a long, long time. And that length of time it took is the greatest gift I ever got because I got to get quite good before anyone took any notice whatsoever.
And I'm not beautiful like, oh, you are?
Well, no, but I'm not being silly, but like, you don't get on to neighbors if you look like me, you know, unless you're playing the bullied kid or whatever.
So my friends went off to acting school and I never even auditioned. I didn't even cross my mind. I'd be allowed to. And yet I'm definitely an actor now. But saying that out loud has taken me forty four years, you know.
But you did record an album with you.
I recorded an album in my lounge room in 2000. Oh man. Don't worry. I was putting out stuff and pushing hard and playing. I haven't had a job, a music job since I was twenty one or something. I played in wedding bands and piano bars and and. And I've written music for you theater. And the fact is, regardless of where my self belief was or you got to realize how isolated Perth is, you're coming from Scotland makes you feel like you're not part of the world.
Yeah. I mean, it's so culturally isolated. You just think the idea that maybe one day I could write some music for a theatre company in Melbourne was like the absolute height of my right audacity of myself.
Sure, I thought I'm going to move to Melbourne and maybe I'll be able to write like maybe. Yeah, I was just. Trying to do. What I could do to make a living, to make sure Sarah's social worker salary was not the only thing we were living on, because you'd met Sarah at university?
Yeah, we met at high school, actually, but yeah, first year uni we got together.
It's very uncool. Best to have been with the same person all of your adult life. Yeah, more or less. Yeah.
My my life is incredibly on showbiz though.
Sure. And maybe that's the secret of your success. But because you've been with Sarah that whole time, has she been I mean, does she go on that journey with you or do you do one part of your life?
And she does you know you know, you see some sort of partners who you can feel that they think, well, it should be me or. Right. You know, why does that idiot get all that attention?
Is not is is a klutz, you know, or they really love it.
And all of them are legitimate thoughts and has no doubt that Sarah should think, why does that klutz get the attention? But. The couple of times she's been really like are tongue tied by celebrities, it's like we ended up at dinner at Sandra Bullock's house once and she sat next to her and just went absolutely numb. Right. Couldn't she couldn't because she comes from a bit of a pop culture upbringing. You know, she was that so. So that sort of thing throws her.
But mostly she kind of manages her sense of being out of her comfort zone by just going, I just don't care about any.
OK, so you can you can put her in a rock and take her out to an opening. And she has a really good time and she's beautiful and stuff.
But you couldn't design a person more equipped to do what we have done. Right.
Like, because it was I mean, you have your version of this story and we'll talk about it when I interview a lot of it.
But the but it was a big, big change from not being able to pay the rent to I mean, Matilda. I started writing Mattilda only three years after my first Edinborough not right. And Sara is just like she was genetically designed to give enough of a fuck, but enough not of a fuck. Yeah. And to deal with the stress of it, although in hindsight I think it was really hard. The first baby in a in a London winter with no family I want to share 12 weeks later.
But but she is she's hard to impress, stoical. She loves me. She loved me long before I lost weight and had people looking at me. And she is profoundly aware, as I am, of how lucky we are. Yeah. And she's a fuckin rock star.
I mean, how involved is she in your sort of creative journey? And you sort of you go, I've written a new song. She's the first person you play it to or I do.
But we have learnt that it's no good a really while it's a really fucking bad idea, she just she's just profoundly unimpressed.
Well, there's two songs you've written that the I I want to know how Sarah reacts to the first one which you've talked about before, because it's an old song was If I couldn't have you when you talk about it and it's ultimately it's a love song and it's a beautiful song.
Yeah, but but you are kind of going, look, statistically, I could be with anyone. I happen to be with you. You're fine. It's great. We're having a nice time. But, you know, you could have been anyone.
There's be other people that might might be in other ways like. Yeah. You know, more suitable.
I mean, how do you first showcase a song like that to her? And are you nervous of her reaction?
I'm always disappointed by how unimpressed I'm still after twenty seven years, think maybe she'll think this is brilliant.
Yeah. I wrote if I didn't have you in our flat in Nightingale Lane in Crouch End and she just went. I just think that's beneath you, basically, that she went it's just not as good.
She just went it's just you've just written a song about how you could fuck other people.
That makes you sound like it makes you sound like a wanker.
And I'm like, not about that. It's about the fact that love is a choice. And it's more profound because it's a choice.
And the idea of fate diminishes, just like all spirituality, all appeals to gods, and it all diminishes the truth, which is it's just us.
The odds on us meeting on US existing, but meeting an infinitesimal and our constant rededication to one another is what makes love meaningful. And she's like, Hanaa sounds like you to say I could fuck other people.
And how weathered are you by that kind of. I'm pretty. I don't like it. I do. I play her stuff and sometimes she really likes it. But if she doesn't like it, she's learned not to tell me that because she knows she's not necessarily right.
Oh, this is now so complicated.
But the ending is good because she knows not to say I'm not sure about that one because she knows it upsets me and she knows she's not necessarily right about it.
But I can tell that she's just saying she likes it clearly matters. I like that. I like that.
It still matters that I do. Yeah. Yeah. But they're lonely, so I'm so lonely. Tonight is a song.
It's a beautiful song, but it's about well it's about a true incident. Right.
It this is the thing with songs like all art I think is there's hugely personal experience in it.
But obviously you go I want to write a song about the feeling of wanting to fuck someone and not OK.
And obviously I think Sarah and you and anyone listening would be naive to think that the number of times I've had the opportunity and desire to fuck someone and not is one.
I mean, it's happened lots. Right. And Sarah knows it's happened because I tell her. Well, that's what I'm wondering is the song is, again, ultimately a beautiful love song and a song about how important your marriage is and how she's the most important person in your life.
But you're talking about, as you say, you're talking about moments when you are almost unfaithful to how do you how do you introduce that song to Sarah?
Something about that song has really hit a nerve with people. And she's gone and read some of the comments. And we had a chat about it today, actually, and it was a really interesting chat because she said to me. It's a really well written song, isn't it? And I'm like a new letter for you left, I can see your face, no letter, unbelievable, because she kind of listened to it through the ears of the people commenting.
She read all the comments, then went back and listened to it and went, ah, right. I see she she was able to be a bit more objective. And I hope I'm not sounding like a dick, but I've written a lot of songs and some of them I think are shit, including my most famous song that everyone likes the fuckin prejudice song.
But I think Lonely is a well constructed song. And so I was very, very pleased that she thought so, too.
But she also said it's so interesting that people, women, especially listening to that song, hear.
So the way dominant reaction is that they hear the romance of it more. But can't they hear that you're saying to them, I want you to think of me as farmable?
Can't they hear the desperation that you want them to think of you sexually?
And it was so interesting because she was super light.
And I'm like, yeah, right. Yeah. And also we discussed the fact that my songs are my thing is honesty is a brutal honesty.
But of course, song structure and the right rhyme and a romantic notion beats truth every time. Of course she's right, you know.
But what about what about your kids? What I mean, because as someone who part of what you do is sharing, as you say, with a candidness, you share truths about who you are and about your life. Do you worry maybe not know, but that when they grow up, you'll discover a version of their dad they didn't realize or.
Yeah. And you know, all my bits of stand up from the old days mouth is for cock.
Yeah. You know, yeah. That's a really bad punch line to say out of context. I promise you that that punch line heals itself. I think they'll be right. I think I think they're okay. We're pretty pretty liberal kind of household.
I'd be interested in asking you about that as well, about how you parented. I imagine you were brought up in quite a strict sort of household, just making assumptions about, you know, I think it seems that we may have had a quite similar upbringing in some ways.
And did you ever swear at your mother? Never, never, ever did I swear in front of either of my parents. And I guess that's what I mean.
The only time I ever saw I make my parents nervous in front of me until one night my dad went to see Billy Connolly and he was staying with me in London. And he went to see and he came back and started doing bits of Billy Connolly's act. How old were you? Oh, this was not that long ago.
I was like, oh, so you'd never heard parents swearing? Never, never, never, never. And I never saw in front of them unless I was on stage. And then, of course, the character was swearing that was fine. And yeah. And my dad started doing bits of Billy Connolly's act in the living room. And I saw my father, who was a Church of Scotland minister, standing in my front room roaring the word cunt.
It was I did not know where to look. It was it was surreal.
Gives me chills to think about it. It was all wrong.
It never it didn't make any sense. Yeah. You talked about prejudice out, in case you haven't heard it. Dear Listener is a song about prejudice against a specific minority group, but the sleight of hand in the lyrics is first. Do you think it's about as the word is spelled out, you think it's about a specific minority group and then the sleight of hand is actually it's about another. Does that explain it?
Well, it's about the G word and I rather do a rather spoiled white boy bullshit joke about making people think I'm going to talk about the N word.
Yes, I actually came up with the idea of writing a song about gingers with the weight of a song, because the idea that that only black people can use that word for each other is very pervasive and very well accepted.
And I thought I should write a song about how only gingers can call other ginger ginger.
Yeah. And then the anagram appeared.
I was like, You're joking. I kept I kept writing it, so I just asked.
But that way that you play with words and you jam them together and you rein them in, you collate ideas. It's a very much a trademark idea. Say what you do. Is that always something you've had an enjoyment of in a capacity for that sort of wordplay?
I don't suppose so, but I definitely have always had a problem with brevity. As I have in this podcast, I, I have this compulsion when I have a thought about an idea to try and tie the point. I'm trying to make up in a full picnic basket version of the idea with a ribbon on top, like it's almost like an anxiety that I'm not going to be understood properly. And ideally what I want to do is generate spontaneously a beautifully structured and well concluded example of the explanation of an idea, you know, like the song being the the best example of the songs I've written.
The song sets a trap.
And it is. Pretty hard to get out of here. What do you mean, what do you mean by trap? Well, it offers up an unbelievably abusive opening, a crass and unsophisticated, abusive anti papel stream of invective and abuse.
And then it goes about unpacking how a person might feel hearing that abuse, and at the end it just says if you found it more offensive, this language, then the idea that the pope has been covering up child abuse, then you are morally fucked.
And it's a it's a it's a trap. It asks people to get upset by the language and then says, you're off, your morality's off. And I'm not saying it's a perfect argument, but on its own terms, it's a very well-structured argument. And that is my I love it because that's the bit I remember seeing.
Seeing, indeed, that song you did at the U2 with an orchestra of 50 people in the orchestra, 55, 65.
And at one point they are joining in shouting, Fuck you, motherfucker. And I'm I'm thinking one of the members of the orchestra must be a practicing Roman Catholic. How do you introduce that you go so high that they used to be orchestra?
Yeah, well, they all had they all had to listen to a speech. I think only one orchestra member chose not to come onto one one Beeld. Right. And I think one or two didn't say those words. OK, OK.
And I obviously made it very, very clear that I completely respected that.
Right. Obviously, you clearly get a thrill from kind of going there and pushing that particular envelope.
But do you also get scared?
You also think I go to, like, the bit you did in that scene, in that same gun to that, but you did what you've got you've got the Koran, the Koran and Harry Potter and the order you can feel the Lord is going to fuck with a Koran. You'll get shot, you know, are you are you getting a thrill of being. Yeah, I'm getting a thrill.
And it's it's all bullshit trying to be clever and wanting to be seen to be clever. And but also, I'm I lie in bed at night thinking how fucked it is that we place value on and not on b you know, but. Ah yeah.
I partly did those things in my during my comedy years because I was looking for attention and I wanted to show that I was smart and brave. But more than anything, I've felt very keenly that there are some bullshit that needed to be talked about. Yeah, but you have always had even in those communities, you had this anger as an engine of a lot of what you did.
You had the flipside of that was these very big hearted, open, almost emotionally sentimental songs as well, like White Wine in the Sun that would make everyone cry and not perfect these beautiful songs.
That said, if you can have emerged, more of you are loaded out with my last life to the game is the same.
The game is to see how far you can push the audience and then heal them. Right? Always, always heal them. And that's why I had an okay career is because no one ever. And it's why I get in trouble with the right wing press in Australia and sometimes with the right wing press in England is because they see something I've done out of context and go, Oh, this guy is just a polemicist. But I was never just a polemicist.
I was always someone trying to give people the best night out I possibly could. Yeah, always.
The primary thing is to keep people stimulated for two hours and just and make them laugh and cry and think and be a little bit challenged and then completely relieved. And I'm mostly live act when it comes to my my songs as opposed to my musicals and my acting and stuff, because I want to trap people so that I can define the parameters of the engagement and hold them until I. Heal the wounds I've created. So then when the RISC and Matthew Walkers did indeed go, come and talk to us about writing.
Matilda, I've heard you say that you were you were very surprised and you thought they'd got it wrong and a lot. But maybe this is the tussle between the imposter central and the ego again.
But there must have been part of you thinking. Yes. Finally, finally, someone saying, this is what I've been ready for all my life. This is exactly what I'll be good at.
I had written a lot of music for theater and they realized that when they asked me and they did it on my shows, I thought maybe that guy is interested in writing music for theater.
And I'd written all this stuff for youth. And, you know, I said I think Matthew Watchers would say I said to him, I suppose you should get someone proper to do this, not someone who can write scores and stuff, but be careful because they'll fuck it up and don't let them fuck it up. These are the ways they're going to fuck them up. So they're the imposter syndrome and the ego were both on display in the same breath.
But did you always think I will do this better than anyone else? So I'd better. I don't know if I thought I'd do it better than anyone else. I thought I if if there was a composing job I should do. It's this one, because I knew Dalle so is so entrenched in my psyche.
But once I realized the team I was joining because I was last on board, I went, ah, and I remember I pretty sure I said it to myself out loud. And this is a sign of my psycho personality. As I said to myself, if this doesn't go to the West End, it is your fault.
Do not be lazy about this right now because you're saying you had sort of become a rock star and then suddenly you're in a room where you're one of many.
Again, it's very I mean, I'm a big musical act that is hugely collaborative. Right. Was that difficult? Did you have tensions?
No, because I just couldn't have been happier. Right. Sitting around in a room talking about how to tell a story. Right. I've not been happier in in the 15 years since my career took off. Then the the writers rooms of Mattilda Groundhog Day and upright. Right. Why it's so great.
So the collaboration is actually you get the fuck. Yeah. Don't you reckon.
I mean especially when you're a comedian. So narcissistic Zindagi I wonder if they're going to like this one. Oh my God.
Oh they like it homogeneous. It's just like. Oh sure. Oh yeah.
But equally as you are it is entirely narcissistic and you get to make all the decisions. So then to have to collaborate make might be rather difficult but maybe again that's that the theatre bunnie and you coming out. Yeah.
Are so joyous.
But of course Matilda is enormous. I mean it's like one of the biggest musicals in recent years. It goes bananas, it's, it's a juggernaut after that. And you know, it's on it's running in multiple countries. It's touring. It's going to be a movie where they've been crass about it. For one of the principal change, they change your life financially apart from anything else.
Yeah, this is that. Is there any part of you that kind of goes, well, the pension, so we can take the foot off the gas?
No, the main thing is I, I don't have to do anything I don't want to do. Yeah. But I have no interest in taking the foot off the gas because my favourite thing in the world is making starlight and my least favorite thing in the world is saying no to really cool shit.
Yeah. Is that why they moved to L.A.? Felt because I presumably it came out of Mattilda suddenly inevitably Hollywood comes calling and goes come and make a movie for us.
Going to L.A. was about when you get known as a comedian in England, you suddenly have people going, do you want to have a panel show?
Yeah, I've always thought I might be able to act. And I thought if I was a presenter, that would kill my chances. The UK likes to pigeonhole people much more than. Yeah, that's right.
Los Angeles does and are starting to get stopped on the street all the time. And I decided I shouldn't get any more famous.
All right. So I thought I'm going to go behind the camera and go sit in a film studio for four years and look at drawing.
I see. So you go to Hollywood and you work on this movie for how long? Four years. Four years.
Yeah, but I did other stuff during it. I wrote Groundhog Day, OK, and that opened while I was in L.A. and I eventually did a fantastic Robin Hood movie.
But then what happened? Larrikins was the movie, right larrikins the movie.
And then Universal Pictures bought DreamWorks and just trashed it. Two thirds finished, 54 million bucks we'd spent.
There's lots of footage exists.
Presumably our God, you can't get it. I can't find the songs. I know what they did with it all. It was all on these shared servers and they just pull the plug.
Right. All these things at hand. Zimmers studio it helped me make and write is really cool.
Yeah, it's a bit of a pity. Yeah, a little depressing, presumably to work for all that time and for it just to stop.
Mattilda really made me stop and think, wow, comedy's fun and I hope I can keep doing that. But making something that really impacts culture is really an honor. You know, I really took that seriously.
I went Mattilda, I.
I played a small role in the slightly changing what was happening with musical theater on the planet. Yeah, just my my weird little stupid songs. It struck me that. I could actually build things and so saying yes to the film was very much a sort of I'm going to be a bit more grown up and try and make the stuff that that takes huge investment but but has big long running cultural impact like I had. I just felt a bit more grown up than doing gigs.
Right. And I did want to try and not be away so much. And I did think that comedy was breeds narcissism and insecurity. And I did think I was getting stopped on the street too much.
Right. Right. So you were happy to walk away, I mean, or were you conflicted? The conflicted right devastated to leave London, but that was all part of the going back to Australia thing. So Australia twenty eighteen was on the cards from five years ago.
So despite what happened in L.A., that wasn't that didn't chase you out of L.A.?
We were always coming home. Oh, OK. So America was always temporary. You don't miss it?
No, no. We would never have thought to. And I'm not someone who's gone. One day I'm going to break America. I'm not that I find America really difficult. It right.
I have beautiful American friends and I think there are as many assholes in England as there are in America. And, you know, and I'm one of them to someone else.
So I'm not judging anyone but for me. Oh, Hollywood, I mean. They are just concerned. I mean, it's not like they are as people, but the tradition of how they work is so psychopathic.
And, you know, you can talk really with passion in Britain about intention and. Art, and they just they just think, you must be joking, it's just commerce.
Yeah, and like all commercial enterprises, some really great stuff gets built. Yeah, sure.
I can't. Anyway, I had a really bad experience there, but I had a we had a wonderful time. We were really happy actually. Like in our little house. In the hills. Yeah.
So you go all the way around the world, you end up back in Australia and. Yeah. And that. Does that feel like coming home.
I mean, we've never lived in Sydney before, so it was really tough. I think I talked about it in the live show.
How hard, you know, that was that was an interesting time. I'm so spoilt and I'm so lucky. Trouble is, being so lucky as you get spoilt and you get used to being lucky, and I found having four years work discarded very hard and I found Groundhog Day not going well. And Broadway and the kind of. I kind of hated that the work didn't land the way I wanted it to with the audiences, but the bit I can't bear is there is the bullshit games and manipulation of the press and the Tonys and all that politics and right stuff.
Although please note that I'm quite happy when I win the thing. Of course.
So it's all bullshit. And presumably Australia are delighted to have you back. Yeah, I don't know. I just get to look at the projects for what they are and and the and this, this TV show I made last year, the year before is the best thing I've ever done. Right.
I reckon. And you wrote that you were you starred in that. You produced that.
I co-wrote it and co-star and co-produced it. But I was heavily involved and heavily involved in the story. And I really, really loved doing it. And I loved that it was just a bunch of people absolutely dedicated to making the best thing they could. Right. So refreshing after Hollywood.
So having all the options available to you doesn't you still have the ability to be maker ambitious, do you? You're still.
Oh, yeah, I think so. I'm lucky.
But I when you get to my position, people like just attach your name to this as a producer, you must get all that stuff. Just attach your name to it and we'll see what happens.
Doesn't mean anything. Doesn't mean that.
No, I'm going to I'm going to choose a project and pull my absolute heart, soul and balls into it. And then when that's finished, I'm going to do it again and then I'll be dead.
That's what's going to happen.
So stop telling me to attach my fucking name to staff. Find me another project for me to pull my balls into. Well, I hope it's a long time before you are dead, because we need lots of your balls in many, many projects. Yeah, I don't know. I've never said pull my balls into something.
Well, I got run with that of a T-shirt, kind of. Right. Yeah. It must be like the middle of the night there.
Now, am I very much appreciate you giving us all this time. You're a very lovely human being.
David Tennant does a podcast with his as something else, a new mystery production produced by Zooey Edwards, additional production from Harriet Wells, Sarah Kamelot, Steve Akerman and George Tenet. The sound engineer was Josh Gibson. The executive producer is Chris Skinner. Next time there's a fight downstairs and somebody just called me Darling Actionability, the place I'm supposed to be.