Movie #186 2020: Hannah Gadsby: Douglas (2020)

Does a comedy special count as a ‘movie’? Fuck yeah it does. It lasts over an hour, is a standalone piece of media (i.e. not released in episodic spurts as a TV show would be)… it’s a movie. Deal with it. You never know, I might start to include some other comedy specials after this.

Hannah Gadsby is a treasure. Coming off the success of her previous stand-up special Nanette, Gadsby returns with Douglas – a special she named after her dog. In this one, she lets us into her world in regards to what it means to be autistic, how she deals with online trolls, and the peculiarity of Americans. Best of all, her audience are American, and they’re terribly good sports along the way.

Let’s talk about Hannah as a lead character first of all, because that’s technically what she is. What comedians need is charisma – she’s the only one in the entire movie, for Christ’s sake – and she has that in spades. Alongside being instantly likeable, she’s unapologetic, she’ll talk about whatever the hell she wants, and she won’t care if you have a problem with it. (Which many people do, apparently. #notallmen)

Not only is Gadbsy hilarious – the most pivotal need for a comedian – but she’s informed, informative, and intelligent. Without going too far down the rabbit hole and spoiling any jokes for you, she lays out critiques of difficult topics such as anti-vaxxers in an easy to digest, funny way that makes everyone feel included. Put simply, if you’re one of the people who falls into the ‘offended’ category, no offence but you’re probably part of the problem.

What a brilliant comedian does is interweave and connect all of their material together throughout a show, and that exactly what the Australia native does here. She lets you in on her routine from the onset, presenting you with a plethora of inside jokes so that later on, you feel you’re her friend. 

The climax of this show comes with the best sequence of the lot. To round up, Gadsby talks you through the absurdity of a series of renaissance paintings and it’s absolute gold. It had me in stitches, and is probably the most ‘classic’ stand-up routine section of the whole show.

Not all of this is rolling in the aisles funny – that’s not who she is. Gadsby informs her audience on a bunch of issues that are far from funny; the cult of the anti-vaccination group is one that particularly stands out, as is her delve into the patriarchy. However, she makes everything so relevant that eventually, a laugh will be given to you in a pretty gift-wrapped box. Sure some jokes fall flatter than others, but she’s a master at recovering from that sort of thing so it doesn’t even matter. Another sign of a great comedian.

I’m not really sure why I never got round to Nanette, if I’m honest. It’s something that I wanted to watch as soon as I heard about it. But now I’ve seen this, I will definitely be looking to finally watch it, and so should you.

Hannah Gadsby: Douglas is available to stream on Netflix in the UK.

TQR Category Ratings:

Cinematography: n/a
Soundtrack: n/a
Costume & Set Design: n/a
Overall Rating: *

*Apologies for the loose rating style for this one. Maybe if I review other comedy specials in the future I’ll create a separate rating systems. Or not! Who cares?!

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