The New Yorker Profiles ‘Secular Gadfly’ Tim Minchin

It’s about time the man got some recognition like this.

In the upcoming issue of The New Yorker, Michael Schulman profiles singer/songwriter and secular hero Tim Minchin:

Unfortunately, the article is behind a paywall, but the profile gives him the praise he deserves (while offering a few jabs at atheists in the process):

… A kind of rationalist Russell Brand, he presents himself as a secular gadfly, a voice of sanity in a dismayingly daft world…

In America, he draws more of a niche audience: Minchin has become a cult figure for atheists. In March of last year, he appeared in front of twenty thousand people at the National Mall, as part of the inaugural Reason Rally (nicknamed Atheist Woodstock).

Minchin’s act borrows heavily from “the big four”: Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, and the philosopher Daniel Dennett. (Dawkins posts Minchin’s videos on his Web site, which has bolstered Minchin’s fan base among the pleased-with-itself autodidact set.) “He does ridicule very well, and ridicule is one of the weapons that we need to use against softheadedness,” Dawkins told me.

Weeks earlier, Minchin had told me that he considers his world view “romantic,” a common sentiment among Skeptics, who are often mistaken for killjoys. “I’m quite optimistic about human nature,” he said. “I get along with pretty much anyone I meet.”

The article is actually about Minchin’s role in writing the lyrics for the musical adaptation of Roald Dahl‘s Matilda, but goes very deep into his personal life as well.

Minchin was arguably the most popular attraction at the Reason Rally, even if his lyrics provoked criticism from the right-wing media. I had a chance to talk to him briefly backstage and he was as nice as could be, despite me being a complete stranger to him:

Hopefully, the article and the subsequent publicity will mean a bigger stage for one of the premier atheist artists out there.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • NewEndlandBob

    I lost respect for Minchin when I saw he has appearances on the dreadfully awful Californication.

  • Nate Frein

    A gig’s a gig.

  • Jennifer Robinson

    Two of my personal heroes in one photo – I love it! :)

  • 3lemenope

    Patrick Stewart did Pontiac ads. Go ahead, take a shot at Jean-Luc Picard, I dare ya.

  • Rod

    Everyone’s gotta pay the bills.

  • ski-dc

    Californication is hilarious! And Tim Minchin is great as a washed up rocker legend. He even got to play Jesus on last night’s ep! How often does an atheist comedian get to do that??

  • Adam Patrick

    I like Minchin, but he creeps me out with that crazy hair and dark eye make up

  • Art_Vandelay

    Minchin should be way more popular in this country. He’s absolutely brilliant. Sadly, I think too many people just don’t get irony. I’m not saying we’re stupid but…well, yeah. We’re pretty stupid.

  • MD

    I took the kids to see Matilda. It is one of the best musicals I’ve ever seen. The lyrics inspire courage and optism. Every child should listen to those songs.

  • Gus Snarp


  • Cameron Willadsen

    A man whose scathing wit makes me feel saner and whose humor brightens the day.

  • pRinzler

    Tim Minchin is the heir to Tom Lehrer, and I’m proud to say that I got a chance to tell him that after one of his shows in Santa Barbara. In humility he mumbled something about other people doing similar things, but that’s a pretty weak idea, and I think he knew it.

  • pRinzler

    Tim Minchin is the heir to Tom Lehrer, and I’m proud to say that I got a chance to tell him that after one of his shows in Santa Barbara. In humility he mumbled something about other people doing similar things, but that’s a pretty weak idea, and I think he knew it.

  • pRinzler

    Speaking of “he was as nice as could be,” he spent about 30 minutes with me and my Atheists United friends after that Santa Barbara concert, just chatting in front of the theater, and he would have gone out for dessert with us if one of us could have just come up with the name of a place to go to (we were from out of town).

  • chicago dyke

    i’ve never seen him perform. he sounds interesting.

  • rwerdja

    I have seen him perform three times (twice in Los Angeles and once in Santa Barbara, and I can tell you that there are few that can put on a show like Tim! He is so very talented and can’t wait to get my copy of the New Yorker this week!! He truly is genius!

  • Raymond

    I’d have thought you’d be taller…

  • Mike N.

    Try reading or watching “Storm”, it cheers me up when the reality challenged do something stupid (such as electing a leader that hides political prisoners for the military junta and gives up subordinates to same).

  • marilove

    Exactly! That’s the whole point, silly pants.

  • marilove

    Just ‘cuz you don’t like something doesn’t mean no one likes it, nor does it make it automatically “dreadfully awful”. You’re free to dislike things! It’s okay! But I’m free to like things you dislike! That’s okay, too!

    Maybe people would be far happier if they didn’t get so easily offended over people liking things they dislike. :/

  • marilove

    Full disclosure: I’ve never seen one episode of Californication. I have no opinion on the show. But it’s cool he’s getting gigs on American TV.

    Also, Eddie Izzard has done some things I think are really bad, but I still adore the pants off of him.

    You know, I think I’m on to something. Maybe people would feel less conflicted if they also took less offense when people they like do projects they don’t find entertaining or even good.

  • marilove

    Strangely, I now want to buy a Pontiac.

    Aren’t there GPS “voices” you can get? I really hope Patrick Stewart/Jean-Luc Picard is a voice you can acquire for your GPS because then I REALLY want a Pontiac.

  • 3lemenope

    Apparently a couple of jokers in the prop department decided to name one of the shuttlepods USS Pontiac due to Stewart’s commercial work. Unfortunately I don’t think it’s actually legible in any of the episodes.

    His would be an AWESOME voice for GPS.

  • RobMcCune

    I’ve always wanted to tell my GPS “Make it so.”

  • MD

    Another favourite of mine is “The Good Book.”

  • RedGreenInBlue

    Ha! – you would have pretty unnerved if you had the experience we had when we lived in Melbourne then! We were riding the tram into the CBD one morning, and this guy with wild hair, eye shadow and scruffy suit got on and sat behind us. It just so happened that we were going to a gala comedy show that evening; it was only when he appeared on stage that we realised who he was (and discovered his habit of performing barefoot – so I’ll never know if he was wearing shoes on the tram that morning :D )

  • McAtheist

    and wearing eye liner

  • Katwise

    I’m getting on in years, and I’ve always thought that people who got all excited about celebrities were fairly silly – - – - but then I found TIM! But he’s actually more than a celebrity; he is a brilliant, truly multi-talented man.

  • allein

    There’s a podcast I found on itunes when I searched his name once that is (I believe) part of an Australian radio show that he was on (it was about 10 minutes long and he played “Rock and Roll Nerd” and “If You Open Your Mind Too Much You’re Brain Will Fall Out”), and he made a point of telling the people listening on the radio that he was wearing cowboy boots. :)

    Whenever I’ve looked on his website any US shows have all been in California. He needs to play in NY or Philly area so I can go see him!

  • allein

    10 Foot Cock… ;)

    “Not Perfect” is actually my favorite of his songs, and he did a cover of “Better Be Home Soon” by Crowded House that I love.

  • The Commenter
  • Tyro

    Minchin is amazing ^_^

  • Mike N.
  • The Commenter

    Yep. Did you actually read the links in the link I posted? As much as you’d like it to be true that Francis did what you say he did, you can’t back it up, and there are more comments – from an Argentine judge, for example, which say that Bergoglio had nothing to do with such crimes. You should be more skeptical of what you read.

  • Mike N.

    Yes I read the link and it’s a catholic channel on Patheos that linked to an article in the Guardian. The priest that’s still alive has after “numerous conversations” finally stated that he believes Bergoglio did not denounce him to the junta. No comments from any Argentinian judge. Still doesn’t convince me as the guy’s still a priest and I don’t know what pressure was brought to bear, it certainly took two goes before he came out with the required result. Perhaps you should be more skeptical of what you believe.

  • The Commenter

    It’s not about what I believe – it’s about the facts. About following the evidence where it leads. In this case, the evidence suggests that Bergoglio was not the war criminal that atheists would so like him to be. for the judge’s comments. Bergoglio later got those priests released – funny behaviour if he’d previously got them arrested. You can google other links if that doesn’t satisfy you. Perhaps, you know, you should be more skeptical of your desire to paint the Church in a bad light and just go with the facts.