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Review: Hannah Gadsby – Nanette

Adelaide Fringe

What's not to like about Hannah Gadsby? She's smart, funny, delightfully self-deprecating and she knows stuff about stuff (politics, art, history and… er… golf). ★★★★★

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Her quirky examination of Australian art, Hannah Gadsby’s Oz, was a hilarious and insightful look at the Australian psyche, and as co-writer and co-star of Josh Thomas’s Please Like Me she helped to push Australian comedy drama into new and exciting territory. Her latest show, Nanette, once again opens up comedy’s borders.

It all started on a trip through rural Australia when Gadsby encountered Nanette, a woman whose temperament was not quite as squishy and fluffy as her name suggested.

“Nans are pretty cute so a Nanette, that’s got to be cute to the power of puppy, right?”

Sadly, wrong. Nanette is about as cute and cheerful as a slapped arse.

Riffing on this theme, Gadsby relates a series of anecdotes that further illustrate life’s frequent refusal to live up to its hype. Gender, sexuality, The Plebiscite, religion: they’re all held under the Gadsby microscope and examined in hilariously perceptive detail.

Gadsby’s warmth and candour draw the audience in and her quirky insights ensure plenty of big gutsy laughs – but there’s more to Nanette than this. It’s a show that doesn’t just push the comedy envelope, it takes a big mofo letter-opener to it.

“What is the real job of comedy?” Gadsby asks. “Why am I doing this?”

With agonisingly frank personal revelations, she underlines the fact that a lot of what she’s joking about just isn’t funny. She makes her point with such heartfelt passion and intellect that it’s met with furious applause.

Gadsby ends by saying she’s done with stand-up. Just in case she’s serious, make sure you get along and see the show. (You’ll have to go to Melbourne since the Adelaide season has now ended, but it’ll be worth it, seriously!)

Heart-warming, mind-widening, belly-shaking: what’s not to like? Nothing.

Five stars

The Adelaide Fringe season for Nanette in the Garden of Unearthly Delights has now ended.

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