Gadsby Says it Best
Hannah Gadsby is someone to be lauded here in Australia. You probably know of her; she’s been doing the rounds on the comedy circuit for many years now. She is also well loved in her role on Josh Thomas’ recent ABC TV series “Please Like Me". Nationally, she has a loyal following but internationally, she’s kicking butt having just won the esteemed Edinburgh Fringe Festival Comedy Award.
I was lucky enough to see Gadsby in Edinburgh, in the intimate Assembly Rooms Studio. I saw a lot of acts over the month of the gigantic international festival, and can say without a flinch of hesitation that Hannah Gadsby was the best. In fact, that doesn’t sell it enough: this was a life-changing show.
Next week, The Sydney Opera House is staging the same show, “Nanette”, and I urge you all to buy tickets; for yourself and for your friends and family; particularly if they are someone in need of a little reality check.
The current marriage equality postal vote is spearheading a damaging chapter in Australian history. Our country isn’t just naive and close-minded, it’s mean. The decision to forgo a conscious vote is hurting. Where people have genuine concerns and a right to be respected in their opinions (something Gadsby says herself in a recent interview with Leigh Sales), it’s important to understand that there are bullies in the playground who, in light of this current focus in Australian politics, are sounding stronger by the second. This topic might feel like an unexpected turn for the person reading, but it's more relevant than you think and provides a resonate context to "Nanette" (even though the show was written prior to the plebiscite becoming a reality).
Gadsby is an LGBTQI performer. She doesn’t preach, she doesn’t scream an agenda (in fact, she says in the show that she reckons she's a bit of a let down for her "people"!). On the most part, she entertains. Even with her polished awkward and standoffish public persona, she is warm and loveable the moment she walks onto the stage. It’s impossible not to laugh along with her frank delivery of personal anecdotes and her self-deprecating charm.
To complement her perfectly-paced performance, the writing of “Nanette” is ground-breaking. Gadsby manages to break down the genre of comedy, taking sharp turns whenever we’re on the verge of a punchline. She downright refuses to give the audience what they will inevitably expect from her, making for an edgy script. This is a comedian who puts a smile on your face, then goes the extra mile by moving you. I really think if you lend her your ear for that hour it’s impossible not be moved.
Gadsby has created an important show with a cutting message for fellow Australians. It’s not what you think- she’s just not the type to advocate- and yet I haven’t seen anybody else articulate it better.
Prejudice is hard to see in some circles. I don’t see it. I don’t think I’ve ever felt it, really. It can be subtle, subliminal and subconscious, making it difficult for some to recognise. But that’s why we listen to other people’s stories. Listen to Hannah’s. And take someone with you to do the same. If you're like me, you'll leave wishing everyone you've ever spoken to had seen this show. I promise you, she’ll put a grin on your face and she’ll open your eyes too.
At time of writing, available tickets are scarce. It's a popular show for a reason! Buy your tickets here.