review star review star review star review blank star review blank star

Hannah Gadbsy: Mrs Chuckles at Melbourne 2011

Note: This review is from 2011

Review by Steve Bennett

To say Hannah Gadsby gets off to a sluggish start would be an insult to gastropods. She makes no secret about her lack of energy, sighing laconic self-deprecating comments about her love of the nap and lack of adventure.

Not only is her delivery sleepy, her background is too. She dryly tells of the comfortable misery of growing up in the rural backwater of Smithton, Tasmania, a quiet outsider at a quiet school, only tolerated by her peers because she could impersonate Donald Duck and make fart sounds with her throat – party tricks that still stand her in good stead today.

Plenty of country-town comedians describe their isolated upbringings in similar ways, and for a while it seems like Gadsby is the by-the-book social misfit. You might not think she’s progressed much from that quiet introvert, but the dour figure we see today is apparently the ‘after’ state; the product of a social makeover she forced herself to undergo when she moved to the big city. Canberra.

What these small-town tales are doing, though, is laying sturdy foundations for an elegantly constructed stand-up routine. The show moves on to her thoughts on what her last words might be, travel tales from her solo trip through Vietnam and her failures in flirting (‘Mrs Chuckles’ being the nickname one girl she fancied gave her on their first, awkward encounter) – all the while building meticulously on what has gone before.

Callbacks reveal how integral each anecdote is to the show as a whole, even if you mightn’t have realised it at the time. And by the end of the hour, what started as loose, amusing-enough yarns have contributed to a satisfying and substantial piece of witty, if desert-dry, storytelling.

As a performer, she has become relaxed enough to have confidence in her low-key abilities, while not losing sight of the failings that make her so appealing. Stand-up has taken her social malfunctions and turned them into unshakeable nonchalance.

There are hints here, too, of half-formed thoughts that could show where even more intriguing material may lie in the future. Her almost throwaway comment that she’s prudish about sex, yet as a lesbian defined by her sexuality, suggests a whole social agenda she’s not going to tap in this inward-looking show.

Ironically, for someone who so freely admits to being an appalling conversationalist, when the dialogue is all one way, she shines.

Review date: 1 Aug 2011
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

What do you think?

Today's comedy-on demand picks

NICK HELM: ALL KILLER SOME FILLER

This is the show that celebrated the launch of Nick Helm's album in 2016, and has previously been unseen by anyone who was not in the O2 Forum Kentish Town that night.

With typical hyperbole, the show is described thusly: 'Under-rehearsed, under-prepared and under pressure, Nick and his band somehow managed to pull together the greatest show in the last 27 years of living memory. That show went down as a thing of legend, often spoken about by weary travellers around campfires, but thought to have been lost to the sands of time forever.'

Click for more suggestions

... including Al Murray headlining a Just For Tonic gig and the launch of Free Festival's virtual comedy programming.

We see you are using AdBlocker software. Chortle relies on advertisers to fund this website so it’s free for you, so we would ask that you disable it for this site. Our ads are non-intrusive and relevant. Help keep Chortle viable.