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Hannah Gadsby: The Exhibitionist


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Take a good look at the photo above – a little bit cute, a little bit quirky, it’s the one Hannah Gadsby has personally selected as her current publicity image. Clearly, she’s pretty happy with it.

The same can’t be said of many of the other images given the slideshow treatment in the comedian’s new show The Exhibitionist, including “candid” childhood pics of the kind we all cringe over, early-career shots that should long ago have been consigned to the bin but keep getting recycled by the media (take note, Advertiser), and Facebook photos other people have tagged her in.

The Exhibitionist is a clever, witty exploration of image and is especially topical given the current obsession with the “selfie”, Instagram and social media. It’s funny, of course, but it also highlights the often ludicrous nature of self-obsession. And it shows that members of Gen Y know how to strike a pose a heck of a lot better than their parents and grandparents did.

Gadsby told her Adelaide Fringe audience she came up with the idea for The Exhibitionist when her parents handed over a box (a rather small box, it seems) of old photos that mostly left her wondering: Why? Why were those particular moments captured? Why did that pose seem like a good idea? Why photograph someone while they’re sleeping?

The commentary, delivered with the comedian’s trademark self-effacing humour, is accompanied by a constant slideshow of images which gradually move from her own mug to those of others both famous and not-so-famous. Someone has clearly had a lot of fun with Google images.

Gadsby puts her art history degree to good use discussing an amusing sequence of conversation pieces and classical portraits of historical figures, including the likes of Madame de Pompadour (with both hands in a muff). Then she segways (yup, that’s a deliberate pun) into random selfies and a sequence that exposes the lengths to which celebrities go to control their image – there are photos of everyone from Tony Abbott to Miley Cyrus, but by far the biggest laughs of the afternoon were reserved for Justin Bieber and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

An emergency appendix operation forced Gadsby to cancel her first two scheduled Adelaide Fringe “preview” shows, with the result that last weekend’s performances were in the bigger venue of the Paradiso Spiegeltent in the Garden of Unearthly Delights. The Exhibitionist is the kind of show that would benefit from a more intimate venue – and not having to compete with the constant buzz of the nearby Clipsal.

It lacked the laugh-out-loud moments of last year’s Fringe show Happiness is a Bedside Table, but it was still highly entertaining and illuminating.

The Adelaide Fringe season of Hannah Gadsby’s The Exhibitionist is now finished.

Adelaide Fringe hub

Click here for all InDaily’s 2014 Adelaide Fringe stories and reviews.



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