I’ll have to be honest. I’d never heard of Hannah Gadsby before the media wave following her brilliant (BRILLIANT!) show Nanette, now screening as a Netflix special. But I am never going to forget her. I will carry Hannah, and her stories with me for the rest of my life.
Nanette is, as Hannah explains in the opening minutes, the ending of her comedic career. A show to retire on. She speaks with clarity, and still with hilarity, of her ten-year-career, and her comedy success based on self-deprecating jokes. She explains the harm in this. In down-playing her own trauma, her own life experiences as a, in her own words, ‘not normal’.
Hannah is intelligent. A talented comedian she takes you, at first, on the journey you would expect. The comedy formula we all know; set up – punch line. The one-two. But this is a deconstruction of comedy, and a truth-filled dialogue that needs to be heard. And before you know it Hannah has added a third element; set up – punch line – story.
It’s not an easy watch, but it is impossible to turn away from. It is confronting. There are words that will replay in your mind and looks on Hannah’s face that will plaster to your very soul.
But most significantly, Nanette is important. Hannah’s anger is important. And change is needed. Facing truths that make us wriggle and squirm and stop and reflect is the ONLY way we will effect change. For women. For the LBGTQI+ community. For men. Men who deserve better lives. Where they are not expected to trade away their own vulnerability & empathy in order to be considered a ‘man’. Men deserve to know a world where violence is not expected of them, where emotions are embraced and humility honoured. We need to teach our sons that to feel is to be human, and to feel for other humans is to make the change we all so desperately need.
This is a story of great pain, but remarkable recovery. Of a braveness I can only admire and work hard to emulate. It is the story of every woman who is ever been afraid in a room of men. It is the story of every LBGTQI+ person, crippled by self-shame and terror. It is the story of everyone who has felt trepidation towards life, for being themselves while being ‘not normal’.
Please, watch Nanette. It won’t be easy. It will stay with you. It will also change you.