When the Royal Shakespeare Company decided to make a musical version of Roald Dahl's beloved book Matilda, they chose Matthew Warchus to direct. When Warchus went looking for a songwriter for Matilda The Musical, he chose Australian comedian Tim Minchin, a performer who "plays a heightened version of himself: a smart-ass who knows he's right and knows that knowing he's right makes him a smart-ass." Warchus recalls to writer Michael Schulman the moment he knew he'd found his man in Minchin:
"... 'He’s got his own secular kind of fervor,' Warchus said. 'You tend to think of satire as a substitute for emotion, and he manages to entwine them. And that’s why you can enjoy the cleverness and intricacy of his writing and have tears running down your cheeks at the same time, or be laughing helplessly at some goofy, childish reference to boobs or something. It’s high and low at the same time.'
... A kind of rationalist Russell Brand, he presents himself as a secular gadfly, a voice of sanity in a dismayingly daft world. For his concerts, which sell out ten-thousand-person halls in England, he adopts the guise of a glam-rock diva: bare feet and kohl-smeared eyes, his hair teased into a scarecrow shock."
Schulman explores Minchin's "secular kind of fervor" for The New Yorker in his article "A Problem Like Matilda." Read the full piece online at The New Yorker.