Hannah Gadsby "Breaks" Comedy
June 21, 2018 7:37 AM   Subscribe

"There is nothing stronger than a broken woman who has rebuilt herself," Australian comic Hannah Gadsby says in her new Netflix special. Hannah Gadsby’s Nanette Will Change The Way You Think About Comedy, says Anna Silman in The Cut, which has MANY SPOILERS. (CW for sexual abuse, rape, assault in Netflix special.) "...Perhaps the power of her performance will open the door for a richer and more humane kind of stand-up – one that sets an example for future young women deciding how they want to tell their stories to the world."

From the New Yorker's coverage of her live show: "Throughout her act, Gadsby weaves in a broader, more coalitional outlook, creating space, in turn, for other narratives—starting, perhaps, with those by gay women. When I saw the show, in March, the audience included a strong showing of what one might call the nearby Film Forum’s edgier crowd—that is, casually well-dressed older gays—including a handful of lesbian couples. At one point, Gadsby reflected on how, after an older act, she was struck by the 'unsolicited feedback' of a lesbian disappointed by the lack of gay content in the routine. I may have imagined it, but, as Gadsby cheekily acknowledged and then corrected for that lack in 'Nanette,' I felt our handful brim with a collective joy."
posted by Bella Donna (60 comments total) 65 users marked this as a favorite
 
My wife was watching this as I did something in the kitchen and I gradually found myself sucked into the living room. It's incredibly powerful.

It's amazing that she can do a great set of comedy, and then turn around and perfectly dissect why what she just did was so fucked up, and why she can't do it anymore.
posted by selfnoise at 7:44 AM on June 21 [15 favorites]


Wow, I haven't watched this yet, but I suspect I need to. My teenage daughter has recently been getting deeply into watching stand-up, and she was just telling me the other day that she is starting to write her own material. Thanks for the post.
posted by Rock Steady at 7:57 AM on June 21 [5 favorites]


I watched this last night.

I had a *really* shitty therapy session yesterday and thought "hey, what I need to do is watch a comedy special on Netflix to try to distract myself from this black cloud of crap". The new W. Kamau Bell special that I thought I'd watch isn't actually available until next week, but I remembered that I'd just gotten email from Netflix recommending "Nannette", so I turned it on. She's *delightful* and funny, I thought, in the first 10 minutes.

45 minutes later I was sitting in my chair, brokenly sobbing in giant bursts.

It's a powerful set, masterfully crafted, and her story will tear at your bones and demand to be remembered.
posted by hanov3r at 8:00 AM on June 21 [29 favorites]


I've gotten 3/4 through - had to force myself to go to bed instead of finishing it. I can't wait. It's so good.
posted by Emmy Rae at 8:00 AM on June 21


I'm in bed sick with a cold and after watching it thought "must tell everyone on MetaFilter about this right now." It is the single most inspirational thing I have seen since the special about Tig Notaro. Also, this is powerful stuff that addresses so many issues: being an outsider; anger; white straight men; art; predation; comedy vs. storytelling; sharing one's own story. It feels like I have so little to cheer about these days but I felt like cheering after a special that discusses violent, traumatic things. At the end I was in tears but also felt hopeful, genuinely hopeful in a way I haven't felt since before 45 came into office. YMMV, of course. I am in awe of Hannah Gadsby's courage, fierce intelligence, and skill. She is fucking good at her job. To think I had never heard of her before I got the Netflix notice.
posted by Bella Donna at 8:28 AM on June 21 [18 favorites]


Watched this last night and was just blown away. It was so powerful. I love what she said about Picasso...spoilers?...that he was suffering from a mental illness, misogyny. That hating something you want is really fucked up. For women especially.
posted by shmurley at 8:37 AM on June 21 [7 favorites]


Yes!! lesbian tumblrsphere has just been gushing about her recently. Her part about controlling tension, and being beaten for being a "lady faggot" was gut wrenching. I cannot thank her enough for bringing the reality of butch women to the front. She talks about her trauma so blatantly. She mentions struggling to carry the weight of it in this vulture interview here. I, as a lesbian who is currently neck-deep in the fucking mud of trying to un-learn how to be a "right kind of woman" literally cannot thank people like her, and Tig Notaro, and Rhea Butcher enough. this is invaluable to me.
posted by FirstMateKate at 8:47 AM on June 21 [24 favorites]


This blew my face off the other night. I've never been the right kind of woman and to have someone put a lot of that into words and not back off from the anger on stage is just fucking amazing.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 10:29 AM on June 21 [13 favorites]


I’ve been attending Hannah Gadsby’s shows for years (she has a dedicated following in Australia), and I saw this when it was still just fresh off being a festival show. It is the best show of any genre I have seen in the last 5 years. Please, please watch it.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 2:50 PM on June 21 [11 favorites]


I have been going to see her since she was playing 20 seaters, which is quite some time ago now. Back then she was funny, very likeable and good enough that I saw her more than once. But she'd pull the punches.

I went and saw Nannette last year, in a rather large venue she sold out more than once. She's stopped pulling the punches, as she notes herself. It is easily the best comedy show I've ever seen, although it's much more than comedy. I assume the Netflix show is largely the same material.

The show rattled around my head for months afterward, I named Hannah Gadsby as one of the few people I actually idolised a bit and who has influenced me, which is not really a thing I do. And I'm a straight white male.

Everyone should watch it.

I'd like to watch it again but don't do Netflix, if anyone knows another way to get it sing out.
posted by deadwax at 2:58 PM on June 21 [9 favorites]


Watched this yesterday and keep thinking about it. I'll watch again soon.
posted by Lyn Never at 3:09 PM on June 21 [2 favorites]


"There is nothing stronger than a broken woman who has rebuilt herself."

It's barely 8am and I am crying here.

This is a comedy show, but also so much more. It's art history from an art historian: "High art. My arse. The history of western art is the history of men painting women like they're flesh vases for their dick flowers." But most of all, it is Hannah Gabsby telling her story. With anger, with love, with pride, with sadness, and most of all, with power.

"To the men in the room. Who may have felt that I have been persecuting you. Well spotted."
posted by Thella at 3:13 PM on June 21 [11 favorites]


"To the men in the room. Who may have felt that I have been persecuting you. Well spotted."

And yet. It felt a lot more nuanced than that when this man was in the room.
posted by deadwax at 3:47 PM on June 21 [3 favorites]


I saw her perform this in Melbourne and loved it. I've been evangelizing it to everyone I know as she performed it in the US. I can't wait to watch it with my partner. Truly a masterwork.
posted by rednikki at 4:31 PM on June 21 [3 favorites]


I was shaking after I finished watching this last night. It's masterful how she introduces the themes of her set, developing and building ideas deliberately, continually twisting them together. For example, eye-rolling feedback "Not enough lesbian content" forms an early segment with many callbacks, but then highlights her own personal shame of telling her story incompletely. The idea returns, matured, in how wicked it is to control the idea of someone's life, how many stories remain untold, how many perspectives lost, and the damage its caused.

Beyond the piercing and passionate content, the structure & writing of the show is unbelievable -- and she exposes the scaffolding of good comedy writing as the framing arc of the show itself! She talks about previous sets, talks about how to build tension and release it, talks about how incomplete and damaging those limitations have been, and finally destroys that artifice.

I'm a huge art history nerd, so destroying Picasso is my personal good place, but I think everyone, just 100% of people, should watch this.
posted by missmary6 at 5:20 PM on June 21 [14 favorites]


Wow, I must check this out! Thank you so much for sharing.
posted by bologna on wry at 5:34 PM on June 21


Wow. Wow wow wow. This is a powerful work of art that left me in tears. Hannah Gadsby is incredible. Thank you for sharing this; I might have missed it otherwise, and it is something everyone needs to see.
posted by hapaxes.legomenon at 6:36 PM on June 21 [1 favorite]


It felt a lot more nuanced than that when this man was in the room.

Yes, you are right. My pull quotes do no justice to the depth and breadth of this performance.
posted by Thella at 6:50 PM on June 21 [2 favorites]


I've never considered getting a netflix account, but been weighing up my budget when I learnt that this was out. Turns out new users can try a month free! My free month will probably just be this looping repeatedly. I've loved her art history stuff, and I've never been able to see her live and I'm so here for this.
posted by womb of things to be and tomb of things that were at 8:05 PM on June 21 [4 favorites]


It's on my list - thanks!
posted by zenon at 8:38 PM on June 21


I watched this last night after reading the Vulture interview. It's definitely uncomfortable in parts, but for all the right reasons. It's a very unusual piece of work because it can really only function from the perspective of a kind of exit interview from her job as a comedian. Which is kind of too bad, because more of this is needed. Not necessarily from Gadsby, I mean to say: more of it will be hard to come by if an exit from one's profession is necessary to generate it. Although I think if we can, as a species, get moving in the right direction, maybe that won't be a prerequisite.
posted by axiom at 9:05 PM on June 21 [2 favorites]


I saw the show at the comedy festival, having seen Gadsby I think three times before, at previous festivals. It was not at all what I was expecting.

Then I bought tickets for my Sister.

It's sort of sad that the whole comedy experience had to basically break Gadsby for her to get this kind of commercial success. Add me to the 'everyone should see this' list.
posted by pompomtom at 2:58 AM on June 22 [1 favorite]


I finished this last night... wow. I will watch again (and again) and probably pull different parts each time. The thing that got me last night was when she talked about being beaten for her gender presentation and how she didn't report it because "that's what I thought I was worth".

I think most people would say that I am usually a person that knows my own worth, but there are certainly times where I didn't bother to deal with an issue because it's what I thought I was worth, and it was always, always about being a woman in relation to some man. And I'm usually the "right" kind of woman. I extend my hand in solidarity to all the women who are even less the "right" kind.
posted by Emmy Rae at 7:05 AM on June 22 [5 favorites]


This was an amazing one-woman show. I cannot wait to watch it again, and see how she does it. I've never been more grateful to Netflix! This show is for anyone who is a person.
posted by honey badger at 5:49 PM on June 22 [2 favorites]


The statement of internalized self loathing due to society pressures was enlightening for me, that's where I cried. Damn powerful stuff done with great courage.
posted by nofundy at 7:00 PM on June 22 [1 favorite]


Cannot favorite this enough!
posted by honey badger at 8:41 PM on June 22


We watched this last night. Holy cow, what a powerful show.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:57 AM on June 23


I just finished watching this. Wow. I look forward to her new career of telling stories, however that looks. Because I definitely want to hear more.

So powerful. So, so powerful.
posted by jilloftrades at 9:30 AM on June 23


Just saw this myself, and am likewise bowled over. The funny thing was, I was thinking about bits that I wanted to excerpt when I posted about it on the blue, and now that's not really my focus, as I'm convinced by her thesis: the whole story is what's important and true and necessary, and it doesn't end at the punchline.

although i may sometime use the bit about the dickflowers
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:22 PM on June 23 [6 favorites]


Wow, this is so good! Thanks for the post, I wouldn't have found it otherwise.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:36 PM on June 23 [1 favorite]


I just finished watching this, and my eyes are puffy because I’m still fucking crying.

Her story is my story. I am not gay. I am fat.

Admins, feel free to delete this if it’s too me-related or personal, but I have to get this out.

When she talks about being a child soaked in shame, that was my world FOR SO FUCKING LONG—from being the chubby little kid never picked for a team to the fat tween put on a diet at sleepaway camp to the fat young woman who went skinny dipping with her German boyfriend-soon-husband and heard a LITTLE GIRL say “she has a bad body” (my German was good enough to understand her) to the fat woman whose then-inlaws wondered how a fat woman like me could get a job and won’t my bones break and how I “could be so beautiful” if I just lost the weight to the now-ex-husband who slapped a snickers bar out of my hand and shamed me for having a second bowl of ice cream and organized NOT ONE BUT TWO interventions with my family who said they were worried I WOULD DIE because I was fat. I was married to him for FIFTEEN YEARS. Because I thought that was all I deserved. I felt fucking LUCKY.

And Gadsby’s show has reminded me why I’m funny, why I work hard to make people laugh. It’s because I live in a CONSTANT world of invisibility and shame and self-loathing and I deflect and distract and deflect and hide and make fun of myself before you can, and I still don’t believe my now-husband when he tells me he loves me as I am, curves and all, in fact I wonder what’s wrong with him, and I see other fat women and think “eww” I mean how fucked up is that and JESUS FUCKING CHRIST I want to find that strength that comes from being a broken woman who has rebuilt herself AND I’M SO FUCKING TIRED IF BEING A NON-NORMAL UNDESIRABLE WHO LIVES ON THE FUCKING FRINGE OF SOCIETY.

hashtag not sorry
posted by flyingsquirrel at 12:42 PM on June 24 [56 favorites]


Bloody brilliant.
posted by daybeforetheday at 3:12 AM on June 25


Thank you for being brave enough to share part of your story with us, flyingsquirrel. It sounds horrifyingly painful. Hang in there. Sending you truckloads of virtual hugs.
posted by Bella Donna at 1:44 PM on June 25 [6 favorites]


When Gadsby punches out to break open a new space for herself, she manages to break open a new space for us all. Seeing women be angry and controlled, sad and yet in power, is still all too rare. And that is why Nanette works on screen: the simplicity. Just a woman for an hour – her voice and her power – creating a space to dare to dream of a different future for ourselves, and also for comedy.
posted by Thella at 2:22 PM on June 26 [5 favorites]


I had half a dozen friends who saw her do this live and came away raving about it, I finally watched it these evening and never have such high expectations been met. Wow.

With a lot of these ...specials? I rarely learn anything new, it’s more preaching to the choir (which i very much need and appreciate). There were a few things she talked about that just... cracked my skull open, in a good way.

Should be mandatory viewing.
posted by liquorice at 4:50 AM on June 27 [5 favorites]


My wife and I saw this live in a tiny tiny theatre in NYC and it was every bit as amazing as everyone is saying it is.

"To the men in the room. Who may have felt that I have been persecuting you. Well spotted."

And yet. It felt a lot more nuanced than that when this man was in the room


Same - I got the joke, and laughed, but at no point during the show did I feel persecuted.
posted by eustacescrubb at 5:12 AM on June 28 [2 favorites]


I usually listen to comedy specials in the background while I am working as a distraction, and I ended up halting all of my work this morning to just listen to the last 45 minutes of the special and am just sobbing now. What an incredibly powerful and moving piece.
posted by Suffocating Kitty at 6:26 AM on June 28 [2 favorites]


flyingsquirrel, we share the same story and the same deep, deep shame.

I watched this two nights ago. Then I went over to my Mom's last night and watched it with her, too. And we ended up in tears afterwards. She wept as she apologized to me for having been on my case about my weight pretty much my whole adult life until about five or six years ago. That it came from exactly the same heartfelt pain as Hannah's mothers'. That my mom couldn't bear to witness and feel my agony of living in a world where I am shamed thousands of times a day, subtly and not so subtly, for having more adipose tissue than most. And if she could just help "fix" my "wrong"ness, I would be okay, and so would she.

Now, this isn't the first discussion of this sort that we've had. We've shared countless deep, meaningful things for decades with each other. But I think this solidified for her exactly *why* she had done what she did to me, and I fully forgave her, because I totally understood, finally.

Hannah's story needed to be told, and I am so very, very thankful she told it. And I love it even more that she says fuck you to the victimhood and refuses to spread the anger. She rises so high above it, as we all can do. I don't think she's done. I think she's just getting started. Her career may look a bit different going forward but we need more Hannahs in this world and I hope she's able and willing to share more.

I think all of us can learn so much from her story. First and foremost about accepting our own selves, just as we are, in all our glorious messy humanness. And, with that unbreakably strong sense of self, railing forevermore in the most compassionate and unwavering rebellion against anyfuckingbody who DARES not to see our humanity beyond our otherness.

Words fail in the power of this special. I've watched it twice, I will likely watch it many, many more times.

Bella Donna, I'm so very grateful to you for putting this on my radar.
posted by bologna on wry at 7:50 AM on June 30 [10 favorites]


The key to this was when she said, at the end of her second retelling of the story at the bus stop, “I am not releasing the tension this time.”

As an Aussie who missed her show when she toured it, and was overseas when it was released on Netflix - I’m so glad to have finally taken the time to watch it.
posted by chronic sublime at 4:23 AM on July 2 [3 favorites]


"I am at my prime! Would you test your strength on me?"

I watched this again last night and have been thinking about that line ever since. Have been feeling lately like it turns out I am not strong enough to take on the sexism of the world + the sexism of my last work place - that it has all ground me down instead of strengthening my resolve. I was missing my 20-year-old level of confidence about how I was going to storm the world and overcome all that shit. Hannah made me feel like I still have time to come out stronger - give myself time to rebuild. I'm not at my prime yet and of course there are going to be setbacks. Whew.
posted by Emmy Rae at 8:45 AM on July 2 [13 favorites]


This is one of the few times I’ve watched something so amazing, and yet I hesitate to quote it when posting about it here or on social media. There are so many incredible lines and sure, it’s hard to choose, but it’s really because quoting the set almost feels like missing the point. The words are so much more powerful in their entirety, and with her fierce anger and power behind them.

It’s not just one of my favorite pieces of media, it’s the most important thing I’ve experienced for years.
posted by myelin sheath at 10:07 AM on July 2 [9 favorites]


This was such a good show, and a really important one. I don't normally expect to tear up from a comedy show but I couldn't hold it in by the end.
posted by numaner at 12:10 PM on July 2 [2 favorites]


This was amazing. Is this really it from her? I watched this and am rattled and not okay but in a way I really needed to be.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 6:09 PM on July 2 [2 favorites]


Hannah was asked what’s next and she said she just wanted to rest. She said that she has no idea what performing this particular show for 18 months nonstop has done to her. Staying in the trauma like that. She seemed concerned and tired in the interview.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 6:33 PM on July 2 [2 favorites]


The content is obviously eviscerating and transformative, but what I can’t get over is how masterfully the show itself is structured, and the kind of work it took to create a show like that. She’s a genius.
posted by Brittanie at 5:34 AM on July 3 [11 favorites]


(shall we keep talking on FanFare after this thread closes?)

Beyond the piercing and passionate content, the structure & writing of the show is unbelievable -- and she exposes the scaffolding of good comedy writing as the framing arc of the show itself! She talks about previous sets, talks about how to build tension and release it, talks about how incomplete and damaging those limitations have been, and finally destroys that artifice.

missmary6, YES, this this this. I do a little stand-up and I was particularly in awe of Gadsby's insight into stand-up as an art form and a dynamic, its strengths and limitations, and the uses and abuses of humor. Gadsby demonstrates mastery of her art. The way she deliberately uses her facial expressions (as becomes clear when she drops the smiles), she introduces motifs and stories and then brings them back with further depth and power in connection with other themes, she carries the audience with her on what is really a somewhat intellectually demanding journey at a tempo that keeps surprising us but at a pace we can keep up with.... it's breathtaking. And it gives more credence to that moment when she points to the connection between her and the audience and says, "this is an abusive relationship."
posted by brainwane at 11:48 AM on July 3 [11 favorites]




I am really enjoying watching this special spread. I am involved with comedy and improv so I've watched it go from being heavily discussed in those circles to now spreading out into being discussed by midwestern moms/homeschoolers. Fucking fantastic.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 1:02 PM on July 3 [2 favorites]


Would not have known about this without MeFi heads up. Grateful, thanks.
posted by ifjuly at 5:24 PM on July 3 [1 favorite]


Stumbled on it via a Netflix algorithm (Female Comedians), so went in without any foreknowledge whatsoever. Watched it all in one gulp (after the first ten minutes, how could I not?). Sat quietly for a long time afterwards just saying "Holy shit" to myself over and over and generally feeling like my face had just been blown off. Amazing.
posted by Mogur at 9:11 AM on July 4 [4 favorites]


I got an acquaintance, a man, to watch it yesterday as he recovers from surgery. “It opened doors I thought were already open,” he told me after watching it. I thought that was an interesting take; I understood what he meant.
posted by Bella Donna at 5:18 PM on July 5 [20 favorites]


I’m sobbing. I just watched it twice in a row. It literally ended and I pressed play. And I cried in the same places. I want everyone I know to watch this. I messaged 4 people mid-view to tell them about it, and then messaged them again to update them. It has convinced me to talk to my 83-yo mother about who I actually am, and I haven’t attempted that conversation in 20 years. It makes me want to come out to my father after all this time. I honestly cannot remember something that has affected me so much.
posted by greermahoney at 1:00 AM on July 7 [23 favorites]


That just gave me spine-tingling frisson joy reading that, greermahoney. YESSSSS!
posted by bologna on wry at 7:41 AM on July 7 [2 favorites]


Hannah Gadsby on the Real ‘Nanette’ and Whether She’s Really Quitting Comedy After Her Netflix Special (interview with Jenelle Riley for Variety, posted on July 6, 2018)
Everyone wants to know: are you really quitting comedy? It seems bittersweet that you would perform a show about leaving comedy and find so much success with it.
I don’t think I would have found the success if I hadn’t taken my place in the world apart. So in order to find this success, I really did need to declare I was quitting comedy and mean it. But you know, everyone’s allowed to change their mind.
...
Your show is named after a barista who made you uncomfortable and you thought you might build a whole show around, then realized you couldn’t. I’m just curious, do you know whatever became of the real Nanette? Did you ever see her again?
It’s interesting, because in the live show I talk about her but in the film version it was cut for time. I’ve never seen her since, I assume she’s still kicking about somewhere. She was just an older lady who I would normally love to talk to, but because of what I represented, we didn’t.

So you never spoke to Nanette?
No, there were no words. You know when someone looks at you like you’re scum of the earth. And no offense to Nanette, she might have just had a tough day. I was purely projecting. I feel pretty bad because she was just getting on with her life. It’s one thing for me to open up this viral sensation upon myself but she’s just doing her thing.
posted by filthy light thief at 6:27 AM on July 8 [1 favorite]


Matt Zoller Seitz on The Vulture has an interesting comparison, and hopeful coda, between Bill Maher and Hanna Gadsby, representing the past and future of comedy:
Let’s back up here briefly and establish something important, though: No one, and I mean no one, is saying that straight guys, white or otherwise, shouldn’t have a place in comedy anymore. Only that — like the brilliant Mulaney, who has described himself on many occasions as the whitest man alive — in the future, they’ll have to take more risks and work harder to earn a spot that might’ve been more easily obtainable 20 or 30 years ago, when the sight of a woman or a person of color onstage was more of an anomaly. They’ll also have to listen, or at least pretend to listen, when somebody calls them out on their subject matter, their joke writing, or their political opinions. They’ll have to refrain from trying to short circuit debate by claiming that the other person is too sensitive or “can’t take a joke” or is somehow endangering their free speech. And they’ll have to make peace with the fact that, if they’re able to claim a spot of prime cultural real estate, they’ll be expected to constantly defend it as they age, by becoming better at the art and craft than anyone who dares to accuse them of sucking up cultural oxygen that should be nourishing them instead.
I really do look forward to a time when the playing field of comedy is more level, where everyone is fighting for some time in the spotlight, for attention and accolades, because when I recently saw Maria Bamford live, she noted that she and her fantastic opener, Jackie Kashian, were the second women to play a local (New Mexico casino) comedy room. There were more men of color who have performed there, but otherwise so. many. dudes. And Maria and Jackie killed it.

It's easy to say that a lazy, hackneyed comedian is past his prime and then say this means that the time of white men being the normal in comedy is coming to an end, but I think that proclamation is a bit premature. Hopefully Hannah Gadsby has broken comedy enough that the path is easier for other non white men to get some stage- and air-time, and it's taking a while to trickle down to smaller venues, for the sake of the comedians and for the audience.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:41 AM on July 16 [6 favorites]


filthy light thief, Jackie Kashian is one of my absolute favorite comedians, and she deserves WAY more attention than she gets. Her podcast, "The Dork Forest", is a treasure trove of all the things that people geek out over.

The fact that, the first time I got to see her live, she gave me a signed M:tG Forest card reading "Rangers Unite!" has almost nothing to do with my love for her comedy.
posted by hanov3r at 11:52 AM on July 16 [2 favorites]


This old article by Whitney Cummings is relevant to these interests.
posted by jenfullmoon at 11:03 PM on July 16 [1 favorite]


From the Whitney Cummings piece posted by jenfullmoon:

When we’re mean to ourselves, the people around us don’t know whether they’re supposed to agree, disagree, argue, or call a suicide hotline. Sarah Silverman has the most perfect response to people being self-deprecating. When someone says something like “I’m so dumb,” she says, “Hey, don’t talk about my friend like that.”

<3
posted by Emmy Rae at 6:47 AM on July 17 [4 favorites]


Extended interview: Hannah Gadsby Tells Peter Helliar Her Favourite Lines In Nanette

I saw some of this on telly last night. I'm glad Helliar took the interviewer role - I'm sure he's a nice-enough guy but he definitely needs to pull his socks up when it comes to race and sex issues. Maybe hearing it from a colleague will help.
posted by harriet vane at 5:31 AM on July 18


Sara Schaefer and Sabrina Jalees on How Nanette Will Change Stand-up (Sara Schaefer (Nikki & Sara Live) and Sabrina Jalees (The Lineup) discuss the special, for The Vulture)
Sara: I would like to think the latter happened. I hope Rob was dropped from the group text. Okay, back to Nanette. I particularly like how Hannah pulls back the curtain on what comedy is and how it is done, and even though she’s showing us the wizard behind the curtain, we’re still caught up in the tension she’s so masterfully building. Part of the reason I think it works so well is because she’s being incredibly vulnerable and just straight-up beaming out her humanity like a Care Bear Stare.

It made me think so much about my own comedy and how I’ve been afraid to get “too angry” or “too smart” or “too female” onstage. But then of course it made me think a lot about how as a straight white woman, I’m only experiencing a sliver of what others experience onstage. She brilliantly brings us into her world and cultivates empathy from people who don’t walk in her shoes. At points I wanted to tell her to stop saying “I don’t hate men!” At first it felt like she was apologizing for who she was, but I realized by the end she was doing this purposefully not only to demonstrate her points, but to, as she said, appeal to everyone’s humanity. She fundamentally has chosen to approach everyone in her audience with love.

Sabrina: It was brilliant and magic and cuts to the core of what stand-up can be while deserting the sport entirely. I watched the first 20 minutes or so before bed and felt like, “Wait, what’s happening? Why are people losing their minds over this?” Then I finished it the next day and my jaw dropped and my tears dropped, and my brain has been chewing on it ever since.

Sara: Another thing that really struck me about this was how validated I felt about how I’ve approached my own comedy. For years, I felt a lot of pressure by the comedy community to, number one, be solely focused on the “craft” of joke writing; never concern yourself with sincere messages of hope! That’s corny! To this idea, Hannah says “My sensitivity is my strength.”

Sabrina: Yes! I’m always only interested in hearing people’s real thoughts and secrets and things that take a few whiskeys to spill out. It’s so much more interesting starting with a real feeling or insecurity or confession. I’m finding this in TV writing too — as long as you’re building a story on truth, the foundation is always solid and interesting, so the jokes that build off of it are so much more satisfying.

Sara: Yes. And number two, never concern yourself with the feelings of the audience — this idea of “Fuck the audience if they get offended, I will NEVER apologize!” has always been strange, because as a comedian, is it not your main goal to care very deeply about the emotional state of the audience so that you can elicit laughs? To this idea, Hannah talks about how being in the margins requires that you concern yourself with the feelings of the audience to make them comfortable with your very existence. For her, it’s not even a choice.

Sabrina: I started doing stand-up when I was 16, before I realized I was gay, and the way I’d be perceived was a huge hurdle that held me back for years. When I was 18 I fell in love with a woman for the first time, but it took me until my early 20s to start talking about it onstage. I cared too much about what people would think and how they’d judge me. Breaking through that fear and realizing that judgment is unavoidable regardless of your sexuality was a huge lesson for me both as a person and comic.

Sara: Yes! Comedy is hard for everyone, but for those in the margins, it comes with added pressures and considerations. Whenever we talk about the struggles of what it’s like to be a nonwhite, straight guy comedian, some people get mad and just dismiss you with a simple “Funny is funny.” I absolutely love how Hannah brilliantly turned this on its head with the Picasso stuff. She makes us ask: Who is defining what’s funny? Who is being allowed to speak? What perspectives are we including?
Emphasis original -- I loved getting a glimpse of these shared exuberances, and there's a lot more in the full article.

Some fun, some tragic excerpts from Hanna's interview with Jenny Valentish for The Guardian titled ‘I broke the contract’: how Hannah Gadsby's trauma transformed comedy
One unexpected sanctuary during the run of the show – when she was coughing up a furball of trauma night after night – was the actor Emma Thompson, to whom she has become close. Thompson contacted her after seeing Nanette in Edinburgh, and Gadsby stayed with her during the London dates. “Oh, we’re friends now; I think I can say that,” Gadsby smiles. “She described what I was doing as Promethean – tearing my liver out every night. She didn’t tell me to stop; she said: ‘You’ve got to keep doing it.’ I think that gave me permission to take more care of myself. Really, I just wanted to get to know her mum [the actor Phyllida Law]. I love Fifi.”

More remote support has come from fellow comedians; many see Nanette as a game-changer (it was the joint winner of best show at last year’s Edinburgh fringe festival). “I’ve been a professional comic for 30 years,” tweeted Kathy Griffin. “I’ve been studying comedy for even longer. I thought I had seen everything …” Kristen Schaal advised her followers there was nothing better and more important than Nanette.
...
The burden of talking about complex issues usually comes down to the most marginalised people. On the rare occasions that a white, heterosexual man steps up – Louis CK pointing out, for example, that “there is no greater threat to women than men” – they are hailed as heroes.

“It’s funny that it was during the process of doing this show that Louis CK came undone,” Gadsby says. “I was furious with the phenomenon of Louis CK before it even came out. I was aware of the rumours [of him masturbating in front of younger female comedians] but I wasn’t in that world, so what can you do?”

Louis CK’s predilection for talking about masturbation in his sets became a metaphor in Gadsby’s mind for the rudimentary question-answer setup of punchline jokes – “like rubbing one out” – and made her determined to pursue more sophisticated narratives. “A joke is a wank, but a story is intimacy,” she says.
...
Following a brief bit on the murder of Eurydice Dixon, a young comedian in Australia -- “It’s often young men trialling their philosophies on life, and we’ve got a generation of young men who believe that they are victimised, because they’ve been promised the world. That’s a poisoned chalice, because now there’s a gap between what the cultural narrative is and what their experience is. Looking back, I think it’s done me more good than harm to be promised absolutely nothing. I was always told I didn’t matter to the world, but the world still matters to me. That’s why I haven’t responded to the more brutal aspects of my life with violence or bitterness.”
Which lead me to Hannah Gadsby on the male gaze in art: 'Stop watching women having baths. Go away.' -- In her new ABC* show Nakedy Nudes, the Tasmanian-born comedian delights in taking the highbrow mantle off art history

* That's the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, not the American Broadcasting Company. This will be her 3rd production for the Australian ABC; the first two were for the Artscape program on ABC TV, Hannah Gadsby Goes Domestic (2010) and The NGV** Story (2011)

** National Gallery of Victoria
posted by filthy light thief at 9:47 AM on July 19 [3 favorites]


« Older With Minimal Lasagna   |   You've got six months to carve your pickle. Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments