Australian stand-up comic Hannah Gadsby became an instant international sensation with her performance before a live audience at the Sydney Opera House that was released on Netflix in June of 2018. The special, titled “Hannah Gadsby: Nanette,” was Emmy-nominated for Best Variety Special (Pre-Recorded) but lost to James Corden‘s “Carpool Karaoke” episode that featured the former Beatle Paul McCartney revisiting his Liverpool roots in England.
However, Gadsby did manage to upset Beyonce in the Best Writing for a Variety Special, snatching the Emmy away from Queen Bey’s “Homecoming,” a concert film also on Netflix that was filmed at Coachella in 2018.
The no-longer-obscure humorist could get another chance to triumph in the variety special category for her just-released new Netflix concert show, “Hannah Gadsby: Douglas” (watch the trailer above). With “Nanette,” she examined the intersection where comedy and personal trauma after being diagnosed late in life for autism and how humor can muffle those whose voices exist in the margins of society. But with “Douglas,” the 42-year-old mostly leaves her trauma jokes behind (because, as Gadsby says of herself, she’s “fresh the fuck out”).
Instead, she commands a somewhat lighter and more playful tone. She definitely tickles funny bones of the Los Angeles audience as declares Americans to be somewhat linguistically challenged in a “to-may-to, to-mah-to.” What is a biscuit in other English-speaking countries is a “cookie” in America while a “jumper” is superior to a “sweater.” And “petrol” beats out “gas” since liquid fuel isn’t a gas at all. Other targets on her list are “Where’s Waldo,” patriarchy, golf, Hermione from “Harry Potter,” the Paleo diet, Taylor Swift, anti-vaxers, Louis CK and so on.
But her best bit is one that is initially inspired by the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and their painterly namesakes Michelangelo, Leonardo, Raphael and Donatello. Gadsby is upset that not only are these amphibians likely tortoises, Donatello was not around for the High Renaissance as the other namesake artists were. The comic claims Titian would have been a better choice but some would snicker at the name. That leads to Gadsby, with visual remote in hand, to click through several classical art slides of various trios of naked women gayly dancing about trees.
As for Douglas, he is Gadsby’s dog — seen on stage as a pooch made out of crayons – that leads to an unusual anecdote about a dog-park encounter with overly friendly guy. He gets more than an earful about the female reproductive anatomy after innocently enquiring about her pup’s name.
If “Nanette” came out in a time of crisis such as the ongoing pandemic and the current demonstrations against racial inequality in our streets, it might not have caught on quite so much. But “Douglas” is a perfect non-guilty escape from these chaotic times, thanks to Gadsby’s quick-witted brain.
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