Hannah Gadsby’s Nanette turned the platform of stand-up comedy into a platform for societal change.
The Netflix special, filmed from Gadsby’s 2017 live run of the show, shook audiences in 2018.
By her own admission, it was not a comedy show.
It was raw, brutal and eye-opening.
It was meant to be Gadsby’s last hurrah, for after that she was hanging up her comedic boots. But it was just a break.
Douglas is the follow-up to Nanette, streaming globally on Netflix streaming from May 26.
(Note: Trailer contains course language)
Gadsby opens the show by asking audience members who have and haven’t seen the predecessor – full of trauma heavy, value-challenging stuff – “What the f…” do we expect from this show?
And what indeed? In press interviews in the lead up to Douglas‘ release, Gadsby told viewers not to expect a Nanette 2.0.
As she acknowledges in the introduction, that show was a release; a lifetime of trauma on one stage.
Had she known it would be so successful, she said, she would have budgeted better – spread her trauma across multiple shows.
Douglas is clever, a rebirth for Gadsby and her fans.
Safe to say I did not quit. Instead…I did 147 shows over 369 days in 40 cities across 12 countries and 432 NYT Monday crosswords from the archive: the Douglas Tour is done! I had a very nice time. I hope y’all did too. Wash your hands on the regular and be as well as you can. pic.twitter.com/a4681yiLHh
— Hannah Gadsby (@Hannahgadsby) March 1, 2020
“This is a show that rewards people who persevere, who go beyond their discomfort just to see what’s on the other side of the spectrum,” she says, a poignant statement quickly followed by a recount of a discomforting encounter at her local dog park.
Nanette‘s unforeseen popularity – and resulting feedback – is addressed.
For every piece of praise the show received, there was a shadow of negativity.
Some people, Gadsby told us, took the time to tell her she did not present a comedy show: What she delivered was a monologue, or a lecture.
The lecture label pleases Gadsby greatly, and she treats viewers to an art history lesson, courtesy of her university degree, complete with a laser pointer.
By the time it’s over, you’ll never look at a statue of the Virgin Mary the same again.
We get to know more about Gadsby through Douglas: She speaks of her recent diagnosis with autism, what makes her tick (or in her words, “pufferfish”) and how the unconstrained patriarchy still takes control over society, including women’s health.
— Hannah Gadsby (@Hannahgadsby) May 26, 2020
Filmed in the US in February, she takes a hammer to the anti-vaxx movement, which is quite pertinent at this time in history.
There’s no mincing of ‘the words’, as Gadsby might say – the assertion peddled by this fringe group that vaccinations cause autism is – to her as a person living with autism – offensive.
“I would much prefer to have autism than be a sociopath like you,” she boldly says.
She predicts on stage, having performed the routine a couple of times already, that when it hits streaming, the level of hate mail she’s gotten from anti-vaccination “cults” will increase monumentally.
Time will tell, but she’s probably right.
For those who have seen Nanette, the air is still heavy with that tension Gadsby introduced us to back in 2018.
As she foreshadows, Douglas is not the same show as Nanette; it’s the aftermath, an unshackled Gadsby able to return to the comedy that she wants to deliver.
She’s spoken publicly that she fears her follow-up will not be as popular, and might even fail.
It would be a shame to see that happen.
Gadsby’s voice has only gotten stronger.
It’s a delivery of a different kind of comedy, not just an hour and a bit of jokes: an hour and a bit of storytelling, sharing differences and similarities between individuals, demanding things could be done better, levelling out commonly held beliefs.
It’s not Nanette version two, and nor should we want it to be.
It’s Gadsby at her most authentic. There’s no one else we should be taking art history lessons from.
Hannah Gadsby: Douglas is streaming on Netflix now. Nanette is also available on Netflix