Depression has been a mainstay of Hannah Gadsby’s career for some time now. It has provided her with a lot of brilliant stand-up material. But recently, Gadsby was informed that she did not in fact have depression, but a different, rather surprising disorder. Armed with this new diagnosis, she’s a little kinder to herself these days. It’s a new comedian up on the stage. But one thing that hasn’t changed is the quality of Gadsby’s work – her new show, ‘Donkey’, is hilarious.
In a slightly scattered, meandering way, Gadsby talks about taking her mental health seriously, and tells some brutally honest stories of times where she did not. While we may not experience these problems with the frequency and to the crippling degree that Gadsby has, her stories are intensely relatable. Who among us hasn’t been filled with rage on account of an uppity hipster barista, or eaten from a less-than-ideal receptacle in the absence of clean dishes? Gadsby’s comedy embraces the fact that all of our brains work a little bit differently and none of us are perfect.
Gadsby’s storytelling style is casual and endearing. At the start of the show she let us know that she had taken a holiday from her medication that day, and in doing so had completely forgotten to drink water all day. This led to her downing two bottles right before the show, adding a layer of tension as the hour progressed. Despite her success and the fact that she’s now playing bigger venues, Gadsby remains very down-to-earth. The pace of the show is quite slow and relaxed, but the jokes are quick-witted and sharp.
Donkey is an incredibly uplifting show. Although it deals with some dark material, it ultimately shows that we have the capacity to make ourselves and our lives better.
Hannah Gadsby – Donkey is on at Melbourne Town Hall until April 19