Sophomore Success

Hannah Gadsby Is 'Fresh Out' of Trauma, But Still Chock-Full of Humor

The comedian's Douglas tour is part standup comedy, part TED talk, part ... art history lecture.

By Nicki Koetting June 6, 2019

Hannah Gadsby has done it again.

It would be difficult for the Tasmanian comedian to top, or at least equal, her groundbreaking Netflix special Nanette, hailed for Gadsby’s impassioned monologue on her experiences with misogyny and homophobia as a butch lesbian woman, as well as for her witty observational humor. But Gadsby’s new standup show, Douglas, performed Sunday evening at Jones Hall and coming to a Netflix near you sometime in 2019, is no sophomore slump.

Douglas, named after Gadsby’s dog, touches on similar themes as Nanette—Gadsby has a recurring joke about how men have “named all the things”—but it’s frankly, less, well, depressing than Nanette, and for good reason: “If it’s trauma you want, I’m fresh out,” Gadsby says at the beginning of her set. “I put all my trauma eggs in one show.”

But if Nanette is part standup comedy, part feminist diatribe (and I mean that in the best way), then Douglas is part standup comedy, part TED talk, part … art history lecture? (Seriously.)

Gadsby shows off her extensive art history knowledge in this show just like she does in Nanette, except this time, she uses a slideshow to show the works of art on which she offers thoughtful, hilarious meditations.

And it. is. hysterical. I could listen to Gadsby’s lectures on art every single day for the rest of my life.

The show takes a serious turn when—spoiler alert—Gadsby reveals that she is on the autism spectrum. (“I’ve had a lot of vaccinations,” she quips.) Her subsequent stories about her experiences with autism are, in typical Gadsby fashion, both funny and heart-wrenching.

A few of the other subjects she opines on: The Pouch of Douglas (it’s not what you think), American culture, paddleboarding, how her life has changed since Nanette, her dogs, the word “hormonal,” and a surprisingly very hot take on Where’s Waldo? (below).

If you didn’t catch Sunday’s show, plan to see Douglas on Netflix. It’s worth it, if only for the art history lesson.

A few of Hannah’s hot takes:

On her autism diagnosis:

“People kept telling me after shows that I was autistic. To be fair, they were also on the spectrum.”

On what it’s like being autistic:

“It’s like being the only sober person at a party full of drunks—and you don’t know they’re drunk.”

On the unintended consequences of sharing your trauma on stage:

“People want to take selfies with me, and people want to share their trauma with me—in the same breath. I have a hard time looking cute in a selfie when people just shared their trauma with me. I look like I’ve been kidnapped.”

On fashion:

“If you take anything away from this show, take this: Don’t go on a diet, get a tailor.”

On Texans’ favorite third-person-plural word:

“I love ‘y’all.’ I’m putting that in my vocabulary from now on.” (Editor’s note: We especially enjoyed hearing “y’all” said in an adorable Australian accent.)

On her uterus:

“Decluttering is in fashion right now, and this does not spark joy.”

On paddleboarders:

“Get off my horizon, vegan gypsies!”

On Where’s Waldo?:

“I f*cking hate Waldo. Why waste so many hours of generations of children looking for that prick? And when he’s found, he’s just there, grinning! He’s on vacation! F*ck you Waldo, you should go find yourself! If you want a picture book of white male privilege, there’s Waldo, who doesn’t make any effort to be found but fully expects everyone to go looking for him.”

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