Review: Hannah Gadsby’s Nanette

If you only see one show this MICF, see Hannah Gadsby. There are no words strong enough to describe the depth and beauty of her show. Gadsby has this unsettling ability to make you laugh harder than you’ve ever laughed, and then with one word turn that laughter to complete silence. It’s beautiful to watch. She is the master of her craft. Not a master, the master.

When it comes to quick-flying jokes and nothing but laughs, Nanette has plenty. Gadsby can make you laugh with one syllable, regardless if you’re a long time fan or just stumbled in off the street. She gives it to the audience, and you fall in love with her harder and harder throughout the show, no matter how hard you try to resist. Her self-deprecating brand of comedy is prevalent, but also examined. In this show, her last, Gadsby explores where she’s come from and what its taken for her to get to where she is. She delves into comedy and how it’s used and abused as a medium, and why it’s no longer a fit for her –as a person or as an artist.

As the show progresses you can feel the anger, see it in her eyes, hear it in the fury of her words. After working in the industry for a decade and doing it damn well, she’s going to make sure that her final show doesn’t ignore the people that she speaks for and represents. Her anger rips through her performance, but it’s though the cracks that her genius as a performer shines thorough. Hannah Gadsby is a powerful woman and you can’t ignore her any longer. Jokes are one thing but it’s a rare comedian that lets us see the raw emotion that’s brought them to such a tipping point in their life and career.

Gadsby will make you laugh like nobody else can, but she’s also a human being with something to say and for an hour you can’t help be captivated. She’ll make you laugh, bring you to tears, make you laugh again and then when it’s over and the humour fades, the gravity of what she said might you leave feeling empty, confused, and unsteady. But also completely certain that you’ve just walked out of a bloody fantastic hour of comedy.

Go see Nanette. Bring your friends, your parents, and even your homophobic uncle, because he’s definitely going to learn something. Bring everyone; recommend it to everyone, because every single human person who can fit into that theatre should fit into that theatre. While they still can.


Nanette is on at the Melbourne Town Hall until 23 April as part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Tickets are available online or from the festival box office.

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