I watched this comedy special a couple of weeks ago. I had never heard of Hannah Gadsby before, but she is a fairly accomplished comedian from Australia. She is a lesbian, and that seems to be the focus of much of her routine.
All the reviews I have read of her performance are “glowing.” She starts off with a comedy routine but transforms into a very emotional talk about her struggles in life and the abuse she has suffered. There is a lot of anger directed towards the audience and males.
I was impressed by much of what she said. But my feelings where not as positive as what many others wrote. My main issue was I thought her performance was “bait and switch.” It was not a comedy routine but was billed as such. I am glad I watched it but felt like I was conned. I had other thoughts, what did you think?
I was a fan of Hannah’s from the show “Please Like Me” where she plays a depressed lesbian. It’s said she’s more or less playing herself.
I’d never seen her standup. Didn’t know what to expect. I was pleased to end up with a brilliant rant and a bit of a scolding (I’m a woman but I’m hetero). I laughed. I cried. I was shook. I was glad to have seen it, and hope others check it out as well.
Now that there’s buzz about it, and ample reviews, it’d be kind of hard to stumble on it as “oh what’s this funny standup show? I’ll check it out.” I’d suspect most people will come to it now with a bit of a notion of the premise. Don’t you think?
I’d never heard of her before I watched it either, and also certainly expected more of a standard stand-up comedy performance as well. I thought it was brilliant, and that the “bait-and-switch” you mention was EXACTLY the whole point of the performance. I’ve recommended it to friends, and I haven’t been giving them a heads-up of what to expect, because I feel that unexpected punch in the gut is perfect. It’s what the entire performance is about.
I was also expecting a comedy show, and I was initially a bit bored because I thought the comedy was rather thin. In retrospect, I wonder if that was intentional (as I agree the bait-and-switch was the point), but I wonder how many people didn’t make it past 10 minutes to see where she was going, because I almost didn’t.
There was a part in the middle where I, as a white man, felt my hackles go up. Then I wondered why I was feeling defensive. Then I wondered if this is how other people feel during 99% of comedy routines where white men are spared the sort of lampooning common in comedy. Then I thought, “Ahh, damn, she’s good.”
The ending was a bit of preaching to the choir, I felt. Overall an interesting performance, one worth watching.
I very much liked it, to the point that I was pretty much glued to the screen for the last half of it. Mr. Athena, not so much, partially because yeah, it’s not really comedy and partially because it’s a hard watch for a straight white guy. I probably should have had him read some of the stuff I’d read about it before watching.
I can see why you all liked the performance. It was emotional and compelling. Still, the premise was a lie, this is not a comedy. So we get into “its good for you” and “the ends justify the means” arguments.
I was struck by how none of the critics pointed this out, I searched. I can only think that the #metoo movement is so strong they didn’t want to risk alienating their fan base in any way. When I checked reviews on IMDB the reviews seemed evenly split between one star (horrible) and 10 stars (great). I guess these people don’t have a fan base to regard.
As a white male I can say for me jokes against males roll off like water off a duck’s back. I feel no guilt nor discomfort as I’m not responsible. I wasn’t a bully, and I am ethical and reasonable. But if I ever want to check internally if a joke has gone too far, I check by changing the word “men” to “women”. So is it offensive to say - as Hannah did - that the problems she is facing are caused by men, and that includes all of them? Could be but moving on.
The part that did somewhat offend me was what she had to say about comedy. I am a fan of comedy and know most of the good comedians - male and female - and there are a lot of fantastic female comedians. She dismissed the work of all of them and said comedy was basically just masturbation with little real value. All of the pronouncements she made were made as facts, and not just as one angry person’s opinion. Have a little humility.
So yup, her comedy special rubbed me the wrong way, but she did have a compelling story. Yes, I didn’t have to watch it, lol.
A few weeks ago my daughter showed me a clip I think maybe was from Nanette asked me if she was autistic. She said, “She sure acts like she’s autistic”. I didn’t know if the way she behaved was part of her act so we watched some interviews and damned if she didn’t mention it. She is now my daughter’s new shero. She asked today if I thought they might make Hannah Gadsby t-shirts. I think it’s sweet she has an autistic woman celebrity to admire.
I admit it’s been a bit since I watched now, but I can’t recall anything where the said that comedy was a bad thing. She talked about how she was held in place by doing comedy, since she couldn’t move on and grow. In fact, everything she talked about was intensely personal.
I did consider the bait-and-switch aspect, as, while I was told to watch it by someone big into social justice and stuff, I was not told that it would veer away from comedy. But I find that the concept was integrated in very well, because the types of jokes being told linked into the final message. If I was going to not like the switch, then I would have turned it off well before that point.
And that hits on the main flaw I see. The people who most need to hear what she said are going to be turned off. She’s right: white men who are unaware of their privilege are seemingly the most fragile, the most unable to take a joke out of anyone else. She didn’t really try to sneak her message in.
But, I can argue that those people weren’t her audience. That her audience were those of us who know our privilege, but were unaware of this aspect of ourselves. Or just as a way to discuss the subject with likeminded people so that other people could then try to reach those who need it.
Do I think she maybe leaned in a bit on white cishet men in some jokes? Sure. But then I realized that she was just doing what happens to other groups all the time. So I applied the same logic I use there, and listened to the overarching message. And I can’t say I disagree with that.
…well no the premise wasn’t a lie. From the description:
“Australian comic Hannah Gadsby reshapes standard stand-up by pairing punchlines with personal revelations on gender, sexuality and childhood turmoil.”
Where’s the lie?
It was billed as a comedy routine because it was a comedy routine. It asked questions of “what is comedy?” And told stories about gender, sexuality and childhood turmoil in between the jokes.
It was the winner of the best comedy show at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2017: did they get it wrong? It was the winner of the Barry Award for best show at the Melbourne Comedy Festival 2017, did they give it to the wrong show? Gadsby won best comedy performer at the Helpmann Awards 2017, did they give it to the wrong comedian?
Humour is subjective. Humour can be mixed with pathos and sadness and you can mix it all up and you can call it a comedy show if it makes the audience crack up laughing. I’m not seeing any lie here.
Every single critic I read pointed out exactly the same thing: that its very funny, but its also an emotional gut-punch. None of them called it a “bait and switch” though because it wasn’t a bait and switch.
Or maybe the reviewers watched Nanette, and then wrote down exactly what they thought, just like they do every single other review that they have written. I very much doubt there exists a conspiracy theory to pretend that Nanette was a comedy.
Since the debut of the review-bomb a few years ago many reviews sites like IMDB are no longer a reliable indicator of anything. Gamergoobers, MRA’s, Anti-The-Last-Jedi, they have all played a part in ensuring “fan-review” scores are meaningless now.
FUCK NO A HUNDRED THOUSAND TIMES.
Well you threw it out there. And you started this thread. So lets not move on.
Instead of “Just Asking Questions” why don’t you share with us how you really feel?
Nope. That never happened.
I can’t imagine a more humble person working in comedy today than Hannah Gadsby.
Just watch this video.
Does that really look like someone who needs to learn more humility?
I’ve seen the word “raw” used to describe comedy more frequently in the past few years. I have to admit that I don’t value raw comedy any more than unraw (cooked?) comedy, all else being equal. I haven’t seen the comedy special in question, though.
I normally take a punt on the all the comedy specials but this one didn’t make me laugh, didn’t particularly move me. I found her rather annoying and “preachy” and didn’t make it to the end. Life is too short to persevere with comedy if it doesn’t make you laugh.
I’m more of a Richard Pryor, Stewart Lee, Doug Stanhope type of guy.
That’s IT ! Well, that’s not it at all, but thanks, you’ve helped me finally make up my mind about it. It’s not that she’s preachy really, and I could care less about her attacks on guys because even though I’m technically a guy I agree with her and don’t feel targeted. When I did feel targeted, I agreed with her that I’m a piece of shit and I can laugh about that. It’s all good.
However, there’s that thing that she keeps repeating in the second half : “I need to tell my story properly”. And yeah, maybe you do. I hope it helps you, I really do hope you get a healthier brain and/or a more peaceful life out of it.
But do I need to hear your story ? Tell your story to your shrink. Tell it to a support group, tell it to your parents, your girlfriend, scream it at the people who hurt you, by all means. You’ve discovered that self-deprecating humour is really toxic - good for you, I still struggle with that one myself. But when all is said and done, you’re doing a comedy show, not a TED talk. People are giving you money to see a comedy show, to be entertained and amused. They’re not paying you for the privilege of being your shrink or validate you. I can empathize with your story. Maybe your story will help other people who struggle with the same things even. I’m not.
So, y’know, even though I was moved by your passion and emotion, fuck you just a little bit, Hannah Gadsby.
You make some excellent points Banquet Bear, thanks for replying. I still absolutely stand behind “bait and switch”. It started as a comedy show, and ended as a Ted Talk. That is my opinion, but I see that some people agree. You’re right, comedy is subjective - I am not saying she wasn’t funny, I am saying she wasn’t doing comedy.
The lie is because I chose her show under the category of comedy specials. You may disagree, but I think I have expressed why I have my opinion.
I posted about the show because I was curious what others thought, as it left me scratching my head a bit. I had expected to just reply to a thread about the show, but there wasn’t one, so I made this one.
Although she had a cathartic story, it rubbed me the wrong way because of how it was presented. My opinion is that many people will think this is a great show because of how powerful the presentation was but feel a bit differently about it on reflection because of the techniques she used. I think that would partially explain winning those comedy contests.
…when the TV comedy show “Different Strokes” did a “very special episode” about a man who sneaks a pornographic magazine in his pile of comic books, gives wine to Dudley and makes him take off his shirt, did “Different Strokes” all of a sudden end being a comedy show? Was this bait and switch?
And it appears that many people (including every reviewer you have read) disagree.
I think objectively you are wrong. You agree she was funny. You concede her show was included in many comedy festivals. It is listed as a comedy on Netflix. She was doing comedy. That isn’t a subjective opinion.
You can’t hide behind “that’s my opinion.” It was a comedy special. There were some serious moments. But they were punctuated by jokes even at the most serious moments. There is no lie.
It was a great show because it was a great show. If it rubbed you the wrong way then okay then?
I don’t think this explains winning those prizes at all. It won because it was funny, it won because it was a great, funny, thought provoking show that was better than anything else at the respective festivals.