thu 07/12/2023

Hannah Gadsby, Netflix special review - shaggy dog story of marital bliss | reviews, news & interviews

Hannah Gadsby, Netflix special review - shaggy dog story of marital bliss

Hannah Gadsby, Netflix special review - shaggy dog story of marital bliss

Tasmanian talks about marriage, cultural differences and autism

Hannah Gadsby gets good value from an unusual marriage proposal Netflix

Hannah Gadsby had a memorable lockdown; it was when the Tasmanian comic got together with producer Jenney Shamash. And it's their courtship that forms the basis for Something Special, the wonderful new show by Gadsby which is now a Netflix special, recorded at the Sydney Opera House.

Gadsby, whose previous shows have dealt with some pretty serious subjects, including rape, homophobia and misogyny, tells us drily at the top of the hour: “This is going to be a feelgood show. I feel I owe you one.”

And yes, it is indeed a feelgood show (based on the previously toured Body of Work). Essentially, though, it's a shaggy dog story with guest appearances by bunny rabbits, including a toy one placed at the front of the stage which acts as a prop for a particularly good anecdote when Gadsby describes how the course of true love had to overcome some bumps.

While delivering a comic version of how the two women got together, Gadsby also subtly addresses cultural differences, previous girlfriends and how a diagnosis of autism has rocked their world. Shamash, an American, is referred to throughout as Jenno, which she thought at first was a sweet pet name until she realised Australians shorten everything, whether nouns or names. Their dogs, Douglas and Jasper, feature heavily too, while we get a glimpse of life with Gadsby's family.

The show's standout tale is how Gadsby proposed to Shamash. It wasn't, as you might imagine, a standard down-on-one-knee effort after a romantic dinner, or even one with the Opera House as backdrop. No, Gadsby's was unplanned, chaotic and – for someone with autism – particularly stressful. But, funny as it is in Gadsby's retelling, it's also very touching, and, yes, “borderline adorable”.

Along the way we hear about Jenno's discovery of Australian sport, Gadsby's celebrity moments with Jodie Foster and Richard Curtis (the latter whom she didn't recognise), the importance of backpacks, why marriage is like curling, and the politics of wedding cakes.

While rabbits are a thread running through the show, so too are Gadsby's asides and eye rolls to signal there's some grit in this particular oyster – “I didn't say who it's a feelgood show for” – and it has, as usual, some wonderfully crafted lines. The period between engagement and wedding, for instance, is described as “a little perineum of time”.

Something Special is, as ever with Gadsby, an expertly constructed show, with every line counting not just in the moment, but placed just so to provide echoes through the hour. The comic is perkier and more physical in performance than we've previously seen, while the show itself is less meta than previous hours – but it nonetheless delivers a powerful comedic punch.

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