Netflix, a disruptive force in the streaming industry, has shown that it knows how to capture the attention of today’s varied audience; hook, line, sinker. Netflix has so far managed to maintain the diversity of its content as it adds new shows every other week. In the month of July, Netflix released a comedy special “Nanette” by Hannah Gadsby, which, in internet parlance, went viral.

Hannah Gadsby’s Nanette:

If there were a piece of art or comedy to capture the ethos, logos, pathos of recent times: Hannah Gadsby wrote it. A hitherto unknown lesbian-comic, she’s become a voice to be reckoned with – “a broken woman who’s rebuilt herself”. In Nanette, Gadsby seems remarkably in control of her style and delivery; her humor is clever and punchlines crisp. After several jokes about being a quiet gay and her butch appearance, Gadsby loosely declares that she must quit comedy. The costs of her self-deprecation are, after all, levied in the form of a personal humiliation (not humility) in seeking permission to speak by those already in the margins. 

Gadsby follows this with a set about straight white men and the “reverse sexism” argument a syndrome of being subcategory-human for the first time ever; on the one hand, men tend to absolve themselves of responsibility for misogyny by claiming to be under feminist siege in current times, and on the other, they prioritize the lived trauma of marginalized groups below the crusade for radical freedom of speech. 

Without mincing words, Gadsby declares that she hates Picasso. Picasso, in all his cubist glory, was a misogynist, she argues, and laments the myth of his genius as a result of the premium we place on reputation. In the era of #metoo, her irreverence towards glorified artists is reassuring. Exasperated, she claims hindsight is a giftAt one point, Gadsby reveals the components of a joke – a set-up and a punchline – and lets us in on how she exercises “artificially inseminated” tension to elicit laughter. What she’s really doing, though, is setting up a stage to deconstruct her own comedy. 

To Gadsby, personal anecdotes are crucial: her coming out to her mother, her being mistaken for a man flirting with another man’s girlfriend, her forgetting to come out to her grandmother – all lend themselves to her journey in comedy. She compares the paradigm of jokes (having a beginning and middle) with that of stories (having a beginning, middle and end), with the former lacking endings and feeding off of trauma points. The quasi self-awareness of a joke is harmful, she argues, to the one telling the joke; to her. 

There is a thin line that separates laughter and pain, comedy and tragedy, humor and hurt.

– Erma Bombeck.

Comedy, then, is a delicate balancing act and that is why she must quit comedy.

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