The comedian and singer-songwriter, in Perth on the first stop of his national tour, was at Edith Cowan University’s Spiegeltent on Thursday to accept an honorary doctorate from the WA Academy of Performing Arts, where he earned his Bachelor of Contemporary Music long before becoming a household name.
Garbed in doctoral robes and wearing a sheepish grin, after performances in his honour from a full complement of almost frighteningly skilled undergraduate singers and musicians, he said he was “hugely grateful and more than a little embarrassed.”
“There are artists here that just make me feel like the hack that I am,” he said.
Minchin warmed up the crowd with jokes about his free upgrade to the penthouse at Crown Towers – “like an Italian furniture showroom with so many couches that 90 people could comfortably sit in it … built for the purpose of making wankers feel like legends” – but soon got serious.
“If this were a graduation ceremony my role here would be give career advice to the grads,” he said.
“It’s not, but I’m old now, so my role is giving unsolicited advice, like all old white guys.”
He told the young faces turned towards him that being an artist required massive reserves of self-belief.
“Of course, the two years I spent here feeling unbelievably bad about myself was perfect preparation for the next eight years feeling even worse,” he said.
“Wanting to give up, cut my fingers off and feed them to a swan.
“Making coffees and pouring beers to pay my rent … my friends in the acting course all wandering around in black tights shagging each other.”
He said he often got asked for career advice, and it always reminded him of himself during this period.
“I was always thinking, what is the trick?” he said.
“There is no trick … but I will tell you three things that are important.”
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