COMEDY REVIEW: Hannah Gadsby: ‘Nanette’


“Hello. I have another show for you. This show was inspired by a woman who goes by the name Nanette. Although we did not exchange a single word or even a glance, Nanette has changed my life. She hasn’t at all, but she did prompt me to think about some things and those things I thought have become this show. Cool stuff.”Hannah Gadsby on her new show Nanette.

Profound and needed, Hannah Gadsby speaks on the “tension” in life.

“Nans are cute so a Nanette, well that’s got to be cute to the power of a puppy, right?”

Nanette was anything but this – she was, cold, “cankled” and grumpy.

This is how Hannah started her show.

This woman in rural Australia had influenced Hannah in a way she had never thought she would be.

From here she began to outline all the tension in her life. To Hannah, a comedian’s role is to present tension but also to solve it like a “doctor giving you the antidote even though they made the disease in the first place”.

The line “think of the children” for example, has been used in many anti-gay marriage campaigns in Australia. This slogan affected Hannah in many ways. It seemingly neglected her own position as a child at a time when homosexuality was illegal in Tasmania. This highlighted her own position of personal self-hate as well as promoting a society of hate. Hannah Gatsby asked the audience to “think of the children”, think of who these “children” once were and the children that still struggle whether that be in the LGBTQI community or not.

Another topic she discussed was the role of artists and other comedians. This rant was on the view “that an artist must suffer for his work”. Mental instability is accepted as being part of the “creative process” to many artists including her. The act of seeking treatment is seen as a means to dilute the power of the suffering artist. Hannah Gatsby wants the story of Van Gogh’s brother’s love to be shared instead of the rhetoric of him being a man before his time.

Discussing comedy, Gatsby went on to call out comedians on their cheap jokes at women like Monica Lewinsky instead of men like Bill Clinton, their ability to be protected by their profession such as Bill Cosby and their ability to value their reputation above it all as seen in the sexual assault allegations of Rolf Harris.

The rest of her routine followed this similar cathartic and passionate feeling. It was a wakeup call for the mainstream to hear things that challenge. She had guts; her topics were political and sometimes too much for the audience but it illustrated important messages on respecting one another and stepping into other people’s shoes.

Her performance was comedic in the common sense of the word but took you on a journey. She told you a story that was tense and aggressive but felt familiar. It was like talking to a close friend.

This performance showed a side of Hannah Gatsby that I respected. Although surprising, the performance motivated me to be angry, to look at the world and to be critical at injustices. This journey through tension was something I am grateful to have.
If you are happy with the unconventional comedy and engaging presence of Hannah Gatsby, this show is something not to be missed!

Words by Maria Dunne.

The show is on at the Town Hall until the 23rd of April as part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival.

Follow Hannah Gadsby on Twitter.