Hannah Gadsby took the stage to thunderous applause. I think a comedian can be truly stated to have “made it” when they play a venue as sizeable as “The Maj”.
The stalls and dress circle were packed with as diverse an audience as I have ever seen. The reach of television is enormous and Gadsby has featured in and been a comedy guest on many television shows and is an energetic stand-up tourer.
The dog of the title is Douglas her dog who we meet via slides and video and adorable he is too. In order to lay out the scope of the show Gadsby refers to past shows as largely tales of woe. This she declares will be “A no woe show.”
In order to steer a happy, positive course Gadsby refers to the show mode of Taylor Swift. Of course there will be no actual singing, but there will be stagecraft, smoke, dancing, costume changes and visual imagery. Short anecdotes will replace the songs.
Starting a running gag with the sound guy, “Too loud, it’s really annoying!” and bursts of “Tay Tay’s” music, Gadsby launched into an anecdote about possibly moving to Carolina (USA) with a then girlfriend. Her memories of a backwoods township and the token gay inhabitants was clever, giving her full rein with accents and the oddball peculiarities of small town America.
Another American tale was set in New York and involved her housesitting and dog minding for a friend. The dog was a neurotic and vicious Chihuahua usually walked in a pram. In a fit of inventiveness Gadsby decided to eschew his medication and walk the dog on a lead. The results were catastrophic and disgustingly hilarious. Although I have seen Gadsby several times before on stage I have never seen her display such extraordinary facial contortions. She was the Chihuahua and nasty too!
The first costume change was a raincoat and an umbrella. A nod to one of Taylor Swift’s stage devices, but one which segued quickly into the much over-used metaphor of rain in so many of Swift’s songs. The recitation of these inane and often meaningless lyrics was truly a comic highlight. Gadsby’s timing is impeccable.
Returning to her Tasmanian childhood for her final two stories she covered car trips with her mother and a faulty cassette player and fossicking at the local tip with her father. The latter having far reaching effects even into adulthood.
Taylor Swift uses video of herself with her cat. Gadsby uses footage of Douglas.
The evisceration of the Barbie-like, pop princess and role model for girls was complete with Gadsby’s annihilation of the Swift “clean talk”. This is a values guide/homily delivered at concerts to young and impressionable fans.
It is wonderful to see a comedian take an agenda and tease it apart and weave it back together so skilfully. The whole is infinitely more than the sum of its parts.
Venue: His Majesty's Theatre, Perth
Date: 23 April 2016
Tickets: $38 – $40