Hannah Gadsby’s Mary. Contrary has been given **** by the Scotsman!

“This is a lecture about art” says Hannah Gadsby, as she takes her place behind the lectern. It certainly bore all the hallmarks of a lecture – lectern, screen with relevant slides, laser pointer – but this was funny and irreverent, personal and occasionally silly.

We giggled to hear the great artists of the High Renaissance introduced as the Turtles (Michaelangelo, Raphael and Donatello), giggled again as the creator of the Sistine Chapel ceiling was described, after reference to his obsession with human anatomy and emphasis on extreme musculature in all his figures, as a “big gayer”.

Gadsby (who does actually know about this stuff, with a degree and everything) comments enthusiastically on images of the Madonna from earliest times to the Renaissance. “Look at that halo” she murmurs, the red point of her laser pointer dancing over the screen. “It’s like you’re there”.

One of the best things about this show is that you do learn the full story of the Madonna (ever so slightly airbrushed from the original Gospels after the Crucifixon) and about her importance in art, religion and society. You also learn about the differences in the various artistic movements, and you learn that there might be someone up there after all, as we watch the large painting of the Madonna spontaneously fall off its perch halfway through the show after a particularly saucy section about the Annunciation.

The show is, says Gadsby “mildly blasphemous”. But it is hugely entertaining and absolutely fascinating. It is one thing to wear one’s knowledge lightly; Gadsby barely wears it at all, just casually flinging fact-studded asides at a packed and rapt audience.

Renaissances High, Northern and Proto, the progression from Intuitive to Atmospheric and One-Point Perspective and the momentous effect of the invention of oils might not sound like the stuff of the Fringe comedy. But there are shows with way fewer funnies than this, and they will never show you round the murals in the Scrovegni Chapel.

Later in the day Hannah returns with her regular stand-up hour, Mrs Chuckles. Ironic title, as you will have guessed: Hannah rarely chuckles (although her recent discovery of Tunnock’s Teacakes appears to have cheered her up a fair old bit). We, on the other hand do, rather a lot. Hannah comes from a tiny town in Tasmania, didn’t meet a stranger until she was seven and had three big claims to fame in her schooldays. She is a fan of silence, useless at small talk but fascinated by last words.

Her show is not packed with comedy gimmick or one- liners, but it is an hour of sheer smiley, relaxed enjoyment. Were it potable, Mrs Chuckles would not be a smart cosmopolitan or a laddish pint of Stella, but a big mug of hot chocolate with a large shot of brandy. Try and see both shows before Divine Vengeance is wrought upon her for the dodgy comments about Jesus’s mum.

Kate Copstick (23/8/11)


Buy Tickets for Mary. Contrary. Here

Buy Tickets for Mrs Chuckles Here

Hannah Gadsby – Mrs Chuckles ***** Metro

Take A Trip Down Memory Lane

Hannah Gadsby – Mrs Chuckles *****

‘A lot of comedians like to hit you with 100 per cent from the start. Not me. I’m more like 60 per cent… maybe less,’ smiles Australian stand-up Hannah Gadsby as she casually pours herself a cup of tea and hands round a small plate of biscuits.

It’s a deliciously casual start to a lackadaisical show that belies her biting, razor-sharp wit. When the recipient of the hot brew says ‘thank you’, Gadsby smiles back approvingly and coos ‘Oooh manners.’

With serendipitous, split-second timing, a small group of latecomers shuffle in noisily at the back of the room and without hesitation, she deadpans, ‘No manners.’

Underestimate her at your peril. Gadsby exudes an air of indifference as she relives moments from her high school days when gossip became gospel, and then promotes her Tasmanian hometown and its two bona fide tourists attractions: Cape Grim and Dismal Swamp.  Recollections of her cycling expedition through Vietnam and her first (and only) bungee jump are acutely observed and she mercilessly poles fun at her inability to strike up a conversation with a girl she fancies.

‘I think it’s better to make impression than a bad impression,’ she confides, ironically making a huge impression on us. Gadsby does have three special talents, which eased her path through high school, and she gladly shares them with the group to cacophonous laughter. “I’m not building to a big finish in life or in this show,’ she concludes and true to her word, she ambles off the stage in the same casual manner in which she arrived. It’s the perfect way to close an understated yet hilarious hour.

Damon Smith

For More info about Hannah’s show, have a look at her Show Page

To learn about Hannah’s other show Mary. Contrary, exploring the art of the Virgin Mary go here

and to buy tickets to Hannah’s show go here!

Hannah Gadsby **** Scotsgay

Hannah Gadsby – Mrs. Chuckles
Gilded Balloon Teviot

Gadsby ambles on stage like she’s accidentally walked in off the street, making herself and an audience member a cup of tea. This sets the pace of the next hour, as Gadsby drifts into an incredulous observational narrative on the developmental aftermath of growing up in a small town.  Gadsby describes herself as ‘starting off with 60%, often less … like merging a bicycle onto the highway’ and the audience are loving it. As she hands round jammy dodgers and tunnocks teacakes, she talks about her fascination with first impressions and final words, ‘I’m bad at both!’

Gadsby has practically trademarked this brand of lackadaisical, almost accidental humour which is so intrinsically part of her persona.  She amuses us with detailed glimpses into her childhood – ‘I didn’t meet a stranger til I was 7 years old”, and how much of her youth was spent ‘hanging out with 70 year olds for biscuits.’ She seamlessly drops in edgy humour, ‘masturbating into a bread roll’  and how her favourite words are ‘cunt and biscuits. But not necessarily in that order’. We’re regaled with lively tales of Gadsby’s travels to Vietnam, ‘they hadn’t seen the likes of me – a half man/half woman/big assed creature …’ terrifying local kids with donald duck impressions and her attempts at becoming more socially evolved.   The show starts and ends discussing the importance of one’s final spoken words, and there’s some fascinating research uncovered into both famous and ordinary peoples’ last words … something which Gadsby has an affinity with, and by the end of the show she reveals what she hopes her final words will be. With great audience interaction, especially aimed at latecomers and people whose phones go off! (you know who you are, Jesus!)

A fascinating glimpse into life in a small town; with a sociological overview of how butch lesbians are received around the globe! All the while kept light with some of the sharpest observational wit this fest. Gadsby is like a cross between a custard cream and a jaffa cake – comfortable, easy to enjoy yet with an edgy sting that will leave you wanting more.  In the last week of the festival, Gadsby will be performing 2 daily shows at the Gilded – one at 2pm and the current one at 4.45pm.