All entries for Thursday 08 March 2007

March 08, 2007

Comedy… with a dark side too

Tim Minchin is a very funny man. He’s also a sickeningly talented musician. Rather than have two – I suspect – very successful careers, he’s merged the two. This hasn’t bought him as much success as it should have done. He won a big award in 2005, and has done some modest work on Radio 4 since. But I can hear you saying “Who?” from here.

If his performance at the Sherman Theatre in Cardiff was anything to go by, he’ll be a much more familiar name soon.

He’s a physical comedian, but not quite in the same way as Eddie Izzard or Ross Noble. He hides behind his piano, his clothes and his enormous hair! There’s a bit of shyness there, but it’s hard to tell whether it’s genuine.

His musical ability is really very good indeed. Not only is he a fantastic pianist and an amazing vocalist (think a rougher Damien Rice vocally) but his songwriting is really top notch. A couple of his songs are so well written that they’re funny on stage but could be fairly genuine if heard on the radio.

It’s hard to describe him much more than that, so I’ll just list some of his song titles to give you an idea of what he’s about…

  • Inflatable You
  • If You Open Your Mind Too Much Your Brain Will Fall Out (Take My Wife)
  • Angry (Feet)
  • Some People Have It Worse Than Me
  • Ten Foot Cock And A Few Hundred Virgins

Oh, and there’s Peace Anthem for Palestine.

He also plays a great song about Islam and Bob The Builder…

He’s great, and if he’s on tour near you, I urge you to go.

A night of good results; Democracy at last?

  • Man United go through to the Quarter Finals of the Champions’ League
  • Arsenal go crashing out to PSV
  • Oh, and the House of Commons votes for a fully-elected House of Lords.

I might be a Man U fan, but it’s the third result which I’m most pleased about. Given the recent debacle surrounding nominations to the House of Lords – as well as its countless historical anomalies – it’s high time the Lords was made accountable to the public and relevant to the 21st Century.

For sure, the Lords themselves will reject the plans. But even though the electorate will be wary of yet another round of elections, I think there’ll be a lot of support for kicking out the hereditaries.

But I have a solution which I’ve been kicking around for a few years. The Lords should be elected by Proportional Representation, using the same votes from the General Election. Votes would be added up nationally and a party list system would be used. It would keep the tradition of having ‘experts’ in the second chamber, rather than just useless party grandees.

True, the leading party in the Commons would probably have the majority in the Lords, but counting votes rather than seats would dramatically reduce the bias in favour of the winning party. Additionally, you could give Lords 8-10 year terms, with only half re-elected each time there was a general election. That would provide continuity and dampen the effect of fluctuations in the Commons’ composition.

Jack Straw, leader of the House of Commons, should be congratulated for achieving the result he did tonight. If the House of Lords is reformed to the extent voted for today, it would almost certainly be Labour’s most memorable achievement since the formation of the NHS.

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