Alice Jones' Arts Diary: Expletives deleted as a comedian's songs become a serious business


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The Independent Culture

Tim Minchin is getting serious. Next Tuesday, the comedian will play a gig but the set list will include none of the comedy songs he is famed for.

Instead, the event at London's tiny 100 Club – for which tickets cost £12 – will be a showcase for his rock songs. Before he became a stadium-filling comedian, Minchin studied contemporary music in Perth and played in a band called Rosencrantz. He'd now like to make an album and tells me that has written several new songs, including one about winter. "It has the lyric, 'I'll take this battle to the streets. Umbrella-less but undefeated.' I don't want to make my songs not quirky." He's aware, though, that the move may alienate some fans who are used to his invective-laden comedy ditties. "Although part of me thinks, 'You've found your home – theatrical and comic music', another part of me thinks, 'Bullshit, you're a songwriter. Go and write a record.' I don't have to think about writing an album like Muse but what about Elvis Costello or Randy Newman or anyone writing really interesting, genre-crossing, quirky music? I don't have to suddenly straighten up and be U2, nor do I have to dump my lyrics. But I'll probably try and stop swearing so I can get some radio play."

ITV seeks gainful employment in the comedy market

ITV hasn't commissioned a mainstream comedy since Benidorm – five series in and still going strong! – in 2007. Now, aware that Sky is stealing a march with a slew of new sitcoms, including Stella and This Is Jinsy, it has announced a new slate including a six-part sitcom set in an unemployment office. The Job Lot, made by the company behind Him & Her and Rev, will star Russell Tovey and Sarah Hadland, aka Miranda sidekick, Stevie. Further offerings include Great Night Out, about four drinking pals in Stockport, and Naked House, starring Jason Manford as a broke thirtysomething forced to move back in with his naturist parents. "It's now the genre we want to make a big splash in," ITV's director of entertainment and comedy Elaine Bedell told Broadcast. "Comedy is difficult – it's risky, exposed... We will not be too quick to judge." Audiences may be, though. ITV's most recent foray into comedy, Show Me the Funny last summer, failed to pull in the ratings.

Hirst, Emin, and the Chapman Brothers are too young to win

As the YBAs settle into millions-fuelled middle age, what better time to celebrate some more seasoned perennials? The Oldie magazine has launched The OBA Award to find the nation's best artist aged 60 or over. The prize will favour figurative canvases and will be judged by Maggi Hambling among other venerable souls.

Six characters in search of a swimsuit

This must bea first: a play in a Victorian bathing machine. The beach huts on wheels, designed to let bathers take a dip, unseen by prying eyes, have been turned into mobile theatres for the Brighton Fringe. They will be at various spots in the city, hosting shows for up to four people at a time. Woolly bathing suits optional.

The wrong arena for the right kind of film

It was a story of good films, shame about the venue for Sundance's first London run at the weekend. For a festival celebrating indie film, corporate behemoth the O2 was the worst possible setting. If Robert Redford returns, how about using one of the city's arthouse chains – Curzon, Everyman or Picturehouse – next time?