I went with a few workmates, and my beloved, to see Hannah Gadsby’s stand up show ‘Hannah wants a wife’ as part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. I had previously seen some of her stand up on ABC’s iview and had laughed myself to nausea – she does a great impression of her mum trying to stop a bleeding wound with Vicks Vapour Rub. She’s also a key part of Adam Hills’ Gordon st show (even though I think her talents are under utilised).
Gadsby, for those of you who don’t know her, is tall, Tasmanian, wears glasses, generally all her clothing is black or brown and includes a tie, dates women and nearly got run over by MsEloise last week. She employs a great turn of phrase, has a laconic accent she emphasises for rude words and excels in weaving layers into her comedic narrative… In a totally non-pretentious way.
So, with all of that in mind, I very excitedly turned up to her show this evening. I was not disappointed.
Not to give too much away but Gadsby’s stand up routine looked into themes of gender inequality, marriage and homophobia (historical and contemporary) – relating to her own experiences but also how society has been documented by others. As my beloved commented, “that show was pretty much written for you!”.
What I enjoyed about her show was that it was totally feminist and not apologetic for basing itself on an authentic female-centered story. Nor did Gadsby shy away from pointing out where she’s experienced sexism, misogyny and homophobia in her life (she also read out some of the hate comments she’s received by anonymous online haters). The clear message I took from that was that if anyone doesn’t think there’s something wrong with that behavior – that requires people to be categorized into stereotypes – or shrugs their shoulders complacently when a stereotype is enforced, there’s something wrong with them and not her. And she did it in a way that made me laugh to the point of asphyxiation. But it also reminded me that I shouldn’t expect sexism, I should point it out, call it what it is and share it with everyone.
I give her show 4.5 stars (she loses half a star for not talking for longer! She’s so funny!!!)
Hannah Gadsby will be performing Hannah Wants a Wife at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival until the 22nd April. For more details.