Saturday, 25 March 2017

Nanette, Hannah Gadsby, Canberra Comedy Festival, Playhouse, Canberra Theatre

There's a point that some stand up comedians reach where they're no longer necessarily funny but you don't mind because they can capture a mood and a thought to tell you about something so interesting that you're drawn in and silently compelled.

Such a show is Hannah Gadsby's "Nanette". It is, as has been noted in the pre-publicity, her retirement-from-standup-comedy show, and, indeed, the last ten minutes contains barely any jokes whatsoever. There's definately a sense of a woman who's worked out how much further she's going to reveal and not reveal, and a letting go of a couple of old grievances (in particular, there's a section where she talks about her mother, a frequent earlier source of both bitterness and comedy, that feels like a new sense of forgiveness has set in - not forgetting the pain, but letting it find its place).

That's not to say this is in any sense a dour evening. There's passion and rage and, yes, there are indeed jokes (and dear god, can Gadsby craft a joke - she knows just where the right word should fit and deploys it instinctively). But to the fucktard in the balcony who asked "where's the comedy" during the last ten minutes, the answer was pretty much "in the preceding 60"- Hannah's leaving comedy behind, and maybe it's time not to pretend everything has to be hilarious. Which, yes, is a strange thing to bring into a comedy festival, but never the less it works.

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