Tim Minchin: The Unromantic Romantic
Reader's Digest UK|December 2020
The Australian artist and comedian on surviving the lockdown, monogamy, maturity and his latest passion project
Eva Mackevic

ROLLING OUT OF bed at 7am to conduct an interview ten minutes later is not exactly my favourite morning scenario. But the hefty 11-hour time difference between the UK and Australia, where Tim Minchin is based, doesn’t allow either of us much leeway. I wait for him to join the Zoom call slouched in front of my computer, my swollen, sleep-deprived eyelids blinking sheepishly at the webcam. It’s 6pm in Sydney, and, as it turns out, Tim hasn’t had a great day himself. His signature long hair is scraggly and wet (he just got out of the shower) and his eyes are red and puffy, like he was crying just a moment ago.

“Something went wrong with my eyes last night and I ended up in the emergency department of an eye hospital. It’s some sort of infection, so I woke up this morning unable to open my eyes but it’s getting better”, he explains. Despite an eventful night, Tim seems to be in good spirits. He’s calm and buoyant, sitting beside his piano, family pictures hanging on the wall behind him—a comforting composition that makes our conversation feel much more intimate than it actually is. Maintaining this kind of air of composure hasn’t come easily to the Australian artist over the last few COVID-stricken months though, he admits, and a large part of keeping his sanity intact was avoiding the news, he says.

“I deliberately disengaged from the 24-hour news cycle and Twitter. I’ve got enough stuff going on in my life without feeling I need to binge on the ebbs and flows of the anxiety of everyone in the world. I think we make this mistake of assuming that one is morally obliged to stay in touch with what’s going on in the world—and there’s an argument for that. But putting aside whether or not it’s a moral obligation to be across all the news and all the suffering of all different groups, what’s certainly the case is that the 24-hour news cycle does not represent that body of knowledge you think you’re looking for, the 24-hour news cycle is designed to make you anxious and het up, so that you click and click more, and comment, and engage, and buy the products advertised on their sites. I’m trying to read just a few longer term things every now and then, but to be honest, I’m just not reading the f*****g news right now. I am burying my head in the sand a little bit because I need it”.

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