Brighton Year-Round 2019
Nanette played around Australia and the UK for 18 months, taking out the top prizes at the Melbourne and Edinburgh festivals before sitting down in New York and dropping a Netflix special in June 2018 that won her a Peabody Award and started a global conversation that continues today.
While Nanette was a random barista, Douglas is a very specific dog, and the only thing they have in common is they’ve inspired Hannah to put pen to paper and turn out a show you couldn’t possibly expect. Hannah found her voice with Nanette, and with Douglas she plans to use it.
The stand-up stage has been Hannah’s home for more than a decade, and the last couple of years have given her a few very new ideas to think and talk about in her brand new show.
How was Hannah Gadsby ever going to top the sensation that was Nanette? The stand up comedy show that made its way to Netflix, and turned out not really to be comedy at all, but a viscerally honest and raw story about trauma, abuse and not selling your soul for laughs.
Nanette shot her into the limelight. No longer is she just getting by with a fairly nice life and career in Australia, but is now a pretty famous lesbian feminist pin up who has found herself living in America and selling out a UK tour.
So with her new show Douglas, Hannah Gadsby has a lot to live up to. Very wisely she began her set by tackling this issue head on. ‘What do you want from me’, she asked of us. ‘I’m all out of trauma.’ She went on to inform us that this show would be very different to Nanette, and then in a very Stewart Lee-esque manner, spent 20 minutes outlining exactly what was coming up in great detail so we knew exactly what to expect. It was very funny and allowed for plenty of inverted call backs throughout the show.
It’s true that Douglas was nothing like Nanette, it was not nearly so raw or personal and was more what you would expect from a stand up comedy show. However, that was no bad thing, because Hannah Gadsby is funny, and she deserves to be as famous as she is – regardless of the fact that she had to bare her beating heart to the world and rewrite the genre of stand up comedy to catapult herself there.
And don’t get me wrong, there was still plenty of the anti-misogynist patriarchy bashing that Gadsby does so well. A highlight of this was her long treatise on Douglas’ Pouch – a weird and largely unknown part of the female nether-regions named by and after an 18th Century man-midwife. This led Gadsby to muse on how much better it would be if testicles were called Karen’s Handful, and old white men didn’t feel entitled to tell women how they should be feeling and behaving.
She also treated us to another one of her illuminating art history lectures – pointing out the ridiculous way the Renaissance artists treated their female subjects, whilst raging against the illogical naming of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (amongst other salient points of course).
It must be incredibly stressful for any artist to produce their ‘second album’ as it were, but Gadsby can relax as Douglas was a more than worthy successor to Nanette. It was extremely funny, but still purposeful and relevant. Whilst Gadsby may have been out of trauma (thankfully), she still had an autism diagnosis to reveal, which of course she did with her trademark dry wit and insight. I hope this show also makes it to Netflix and the world can see more of this excellent woman’s work.