BALANCE_DECEMBER_2019 - 61

L

A
NC

IM

THE BA

CULTURE

LIS

of my life of being this
age and needing to take a
breath out - the character's
shoulders have to be able to
come down and to stand "upright".
The show is all about: how do you let
yourself put your burdens down?

S

INTERVIEW

E P O D CA

T E N TO T

ON

T

Giving yourself a break is incredibly
cathartic, right?
Apparently people from the mid-30s to
early 50s are at their most emotionally
unstable, and then it starts getting
better. Mostly it gets better as you age
in terms of being happy, which suggests
being happy isn't about massive goals or
getting lots of stuff.

Tim Minchin throws down a contender for comedy-drama of 2019
with Upright - we met the Wizard Of Oz to talk about his new show
You must be chuffed with how Upright has panned out?
I am, actually, in a way I haven't been with anything ever.
I liked Matilda (the musical) when that was up. What allows
you to really like something you've had a big role in creating is,
of course, when it's not just you. Upright is so massive, making
a TV series and spending months in the writing room, all the
different writers and all the people involved. You can give
yourself permission to say I'm really proud because it's not so
narcissistic. If I watch some of my comedy, I can't bear it, in
fact, I find it virtually physically unbearable.

"THE SHOW IS ALL ABOUT: HOW
DO YOU LET YOURSELF PUT
YOUR BURDENS DOWN?"
The show sounds whimsical - man drives piano across
Australia - but it's so not!
That's a very good point. You'd presume whimsical, but it's
incredibly active. The comedy and drama sit on a knifepoint
that I'm obsessed by in all my work. It's almost like, "How far
can you pull an audience one way, how much will they swallow
comedically and will they still come with you when you turn
a corner and ask you to care."

60

You seem to be in a good place...
I've always been quite conservative in
lifestyle and choices. My partner and
I have been together since we were kids.
I am not damaged and my comedy is not
a salve on damage. It's a thing driven by
curiosity and surprise. "I didn't know I'd
get to do this! I'm going to do it." I'm 43
now and you get to a point where you
realise the value of peace... The way
the world is now, I just want to feel not
distressed. You have to do a bunch of
things: not take too many drugs; not
ruin your relationship; not read the
news too much; put your phone down;
breathe; be conscious in the present. You
have to f**king work now at taking just
a moment for toast and tea.
You have to work really hard...
I'm well and as you get older you realise
how many people struggle with mental
health, men at our age in particular. You
realise not many people are just all right.
Upright is about all of this. This period

That must have been hard to deal
with. How did you react?
I contacted one of the top people at
Universal to say, "obviously that means
it can't be sold. You can't ask someone
to spend $150m and only take half.
You've already binned it. Why are you
making it impossible for someone else
to make?" And he replied, "Schmuck
insurance: if it comes out and does well,
how will we look? We'll look stupid
for shutting it down in the first place."
I went, "You know that's psychopathic."
This was an honest but gentlemanly
conversation. He just pronounced
calmly, "I'm not a psychopath..."
Anyway, that was that... all the loss
of art and time. The only thing that
gets you past that stuff is time and
learning to not think about it anymore.
Upright is on Sky Atlantic now

WORDS James Gill

"BEING HAPPY ISN'T ABOUT
GETTING LOTS OF STUFF "

Can Larrikins (directed by Minchin,
but later shut down) be saved?
It doesn't suit the people who killed
it to let it be saved... Larrikins was an
animated musical that we had spent
$50 million (£38m) and four years
on: Australian outback, singing animal
musical voiced by all the famous
Australians you can name. Hans Zimmer
was helping with the score. It was hard
work. The trouble is, if someone else
wants it, the software is DreamWorks
software, so you have to licence it to
someone else. So [Universal] would sell
it to Netflix for the $50m that has been
spent plus all this other money. Then
Netflix would say they still had $50m
to spend because it was a $100m budget
and it was only half-finished. Universal
would then say, "By the way, when
you release it, we'll take half the profit
because it's our [thing]".



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