Comedy Gets Gut-Punched by Hannah Gadsby

by T. Mack

Hannah Gadsby, a well-known comedian from Tasmania, is quitting comedy. She has her reasons, and in her new Netflix comedy special, Nanette, she tells all about them. If a comedy special seems like a strange place to announce a retirement from comedy, you’re not wrong. Gadsby even admits as much. But the show is her platform and up until now, comedy has been the only voice she’s had to be heard. So Gadsby uses both the platform and her voice to give a few laughs, tell some stories, and educate viewers about some very serious matters.


Prior to last week, I’d never heard of Hannah Gadsby. Unfortunately, I just hadn’t had the pleasure of encountering her comedy. But Netflix fixed that problem. They put out Gadsby’s latest special and featured it at the top of the home page. The blurb states that Gadsby is serious about quitting comedy, despite the advertised item being a comedy special. In the trailer that auto-played when I opened the site, Gadsby states that she must quit comedy. “I do think I have to quit comedy, though,” says Gadsby. “I’ve built a career out of self-depricating humor, and I simply will not do that anymore. Not to me, or to anyone who identifies with me. [Self Deprication] is not humility. It’s humiliation.”


You see, Gadsby is a lesbian who is also non-gender-conforming. She isn’t transgender. However, she also doesn’t present herself in either a typical binary feminine or masculine way. Instead, she chooses to simply be herself and let that be enough. Gadsby uses humor to describe some of the difficulties that have come with being different in the ways that she is. She tells jokes. They’re funny. She even gives a sort of education on why the jokes are funny, what makes them work, and why she’s so very good at making us all laugh.


Then things take a turn. Gadsby suddenly does the thing that comedians are never supposed to do. She tells the whole truth. With that simple act, comedy becomes something else entirely. It becomes something bigger, harder, and much more important. Suddenly, it’s a conversation that is tremendously difficult, but oh-so necessary. Hannah Gadsby turns her comedy special punchline into a gut punch to comedy. The result is something that everyone needs to see.


I highly recommend you take an hour to watch Hannah Gadsby’s Netflix comedy special, Nanette. You will laugh. You might cry. You will definitely be unprepared for what she gives you. However, if you listen, and keep your heart open, you might come out a better person on the other side. And you’ll absolutely understand the nature of jokes a little bit better.


5 SG Shields


Have you watched Nanette? Is so, please share your thoughts in the comments. IF not, be sure to come back after you do. I’d like to hear what others think about this very special comedy special.



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