“Hilarious” is an overused word, diluted by vocabulary-starved individuals misusing the expression with scant regard for comedic scale. Gone are the days of using “hilarious” to describe a situation where tears run down your muscle-exhausted face and your stomach hurts the next day because you laughed so much. Or should I say, gone were the days. The Exhibitionist is hilarious.
If you haven’t met Hannah Gadsby, you may instinctively consider that my summary is an exaggeration. Fight that urge. Fight it, and relive those days of yore… when someone told you that something was hilarious, and it actually was.
Pre-show, Gadsby generously posed for photos with fans, and casually drank pale ale. She seemed relaxed despite the fact that her health fund premium must be absolutely crippling. So far this year, she has had an emergency appendectomy and copped a metal splinter in her eye; the recounting of the latter story, both empathy-inducing and very funny in equal measures.
Any hopes of finding her in good health were dashed with the revelation that she was experiencing back pain. At this news, we felt sad, but not for long. Painkillers and ale did nothing to dull her humour or delivery; the well-paced show was as tight as her back seemed when she struggled off stage after a clever, educational and entertaining hour.
Gadsby’s illuminating comedy draws from her knowledge of art history, (she is an ANU graduate of art history and curatorship) and portraiture in the guise of humbling photographs sourced from the “plastic bag of woe”; an offering from her mother. Interspersing this with an examination of select politicians, we were guided by means of an unexpectedly enjoyable slideshow, from Reubens to Goya to Putin to Bieber to Gadsby and back to Bieber.
The Exhibitionist is a cracking mix of self-deprecating humour, astute observations and courageous gung-ho from the library of Gadsby, who delivered this fabulous show with a wit so dry, it resembled a martini that has only had a bottle of unopened vermouth waved in its general direction.
Experience the great (Hannah) Gadsby when she returns for the 2015 Adelaide Fringe Festival. I promise it’s hilarious. Cross my heart, hope to die, stick a metal splinter in my eye.
Reviewed by Emily Morris
Venue: The Grainger Studio, 91 Hindley Street, Adelaide
Season: 28 -29 November 2014 only
Duration: 60 mins
The Feast Festival runs from 15 – 30 November 2014.