Hannah Gadsby’s standup special a funny and powerful must-watch

A new stand-up special by an Australian comic is funny, uncomfortable, and very important.

A friend in Toronto sent me a WhatsApp message today imploring me to watch Hannah Gadsby’s comedy special on Netflix called Nanette: “Seriously. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry (particularly in the latter half), it will blow your mind. I’ve never seen anything quite like it,” he wrote. I had some time tonight so figured, why not? Nothing could’ve prepared me for what I saw. It was so far beyond my expectation, I haven’t stopped thinking about it since and expect it to stay with me for a while. My friend was right – I haven’t seen anything like it.

I wasn’t familiar with Hannah Gadsby before today. She hails from the Bible Belt in Australia, and from the opening moments of her special, you’ll see what is quite obvious: she’s not a “typical” woman. Her standup is perfectly timed and her self-deprecating humour hits all the right notes, which is like a warm and comfy blanket for the audience. We get early signals of seriousness when she talks about plans to leave comedy, leaving the audience mildly confused about whether it’s part of her schtick. She even breaks down the components of a joke and how she manipulates tension and uses punchlines to relieve it, something she returns to later. Ironically, there is no punchline for the tension she builds towards the end.

I don’t even want to list the issues Gadsby tackles, because I fear they would be too easy to write-off by those who would gain the most from watching. If you want spoilers, her special has already generated a lot of attention in Variety, BuzzFeed, Vox, and IndieWire.

If you, like me, are tired of the culture wars and even more wary of people ranting about their politics on TV, rest assured: this isn’t that. It’s powerful, it’s real, it’s funny, and it’s sad.

Go watch it. Now.

Cam Macmurchy

Hi! My name is Cam MacMurchy. I was born and raised in Canada and worked as a journalist before moving to China in 2004.

Today I work in Hong Kong as the Vice President of Corporate Communications of a listed company. I write about marketing, communications, and journalism, as well as technology and productivity, and anything else on my mind! I also occasionally contribute to 9to5Mac, one of the top Apple websites in the world, and run Executive Productivity. Contact me anytime.