Hannah Gadsby: Kiss Me Quick I'm Full Of Jubes

Note: This review is from 2009

Review by Steve Bennett

Hannah Gadsby rightly has a lot to complain about: growing up in a Tasmanian backwater, unhappy with her shape, a dud at dating, and discovering she was gay in a time when homosexuality was still illegal in her far-from progressive state. (Shockingly, it took the island until 1997 to decriminalise it.)

But trumping all these as a subject for her comedy is the recurring figure that casts a long shadow over Gadsby’s mucked-up life: her terrifyingly dominant mother.

It would be easy for her to be portrayed as a one-dimensional battleaxe – but no, this ogre’s got many faces: strict with her kids, perpetually unenthusiastic about life, penny-pinching, passive-aggressive and with a near-fatal distrust of modern medicine that’s truly terrifying. Only Gadsby knows how close to the truth the figure she portrays really is, but this omnipotent matriarch is certainly a fine comic character, never far from being the subject of another weary quip.

Gadsby has, apparently, inherited some of Mum’s languor when it comes to delivery; with a deadpan tone of voice and minimal effort exerted in bringing the anecdotal material to life with physicality or energy.

But her resigned pitch suits her persona: fatigued and victimised yet not entirely beaten. She has one lethal weapon in her armoury of coping measures: a piercing razor-sharp wit, which she’s not reluctant to deploy, against herself as readily as others.

It’s a winning package, making the tales she tells vividly real, while also crediting the audience with some nous. Often she’ll let the listener fill in the gaps to get the joke, making the laugh more satisfying for it. That’s not to say she isn’t above a cheap gag about the Tazzie inbreds, for example, but she does it with a rare style.

This is an assured autobiographical from a promising act with still relatively few years experience under her belt – but then a lifetime’s research has gone into it. Her mum should be proud… but probably isn’t.

Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Melbourne, April 2009

Review date: 1 Jan 2009
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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