The great Gadsby returns to MICF with another first-rate performance
Last year at the Comedy Festival, Hannah Gadsby performed two very different routines – the intimately confessional Happiness Is a Bedside Table and the equally hilarious art-history lecture Nakedy Nudes at the NGV. In terms of material, this year’s offering is an appetising blend of those two flavours and Gadsby’s most accessible routine to date. The Exhibitionist showcases the Tassie-born comedian at her anecdotal, self-deprecating best but also provides a platform for her unique brand of hilarious-yet-scholarly research as she cleverly traces the history of the modern selfie back to the self-portraits of the Renaissance.
Before her selfie investigation gets underway, Gadsby kicks off the proceedings with a brief roundup of her recent misfortunes, which include a wounded eyeball, a dislocated kneecap and a nasty case of appendicitis. Whether it’s a painful injury or night of trapped wind during a Law & Order marathon, Gadsby’s down-to-earth charisma and delivery elevate the most wince-worthy experiences into comedy gold.
Things really get rolling when Gadsby busts out the slideshow and begins to examine the ancient art of the self-taken image. The audience is treated to a selfie master class in which Gadsby demonstrates the ‘pet selfie’, the perils of the ‘failed cleavage shot’, and reveals the secret to achieving the ideal selfie composition and lighting. Gadsby then applies these theories to the great selfie-takers throughout the ages. In a study that is both fascinating and hilarious, Gadsby explores the social and political power involved in constructing the public images of selfie-samurai Justin Bieber and Vladimir Putin.
Looking up funny pictures on the internet is usually ranked among the lowest forms of humour but Gadsby does so with intelligence. The academic aspects of her material are delivered unpretentiously and never come close to overshadowing the comedy. There’s plenty to think about if you’re so inclined but, as the constant laughter from the audience will attest to, The Exhibitionist reaffirms Gadsby’s position as of one of Australia’s funniest comedians.