Thursday, July 26, 2018

“How did that happen?”

Hannah Gadsby, in Nanette (dir. Jon Olb and Madeleine Parry, 2018), recounting her mother’s explanation of what she regretted in raising her children:

“The thing I regret is that I raised you as if you were straight. I didn’t know any different. I am so sorry. I’m so sorry. I knew, well before you did, that your life was gonna be so hard. I knew that, and I wanted it more than anything in the world not to be the case. I now know I made it worse. I made it worse because I wanted you to change, because I knew the world wouldn’t.

“And I looked at my mum in that moment, and I thought, ‘How did that happen? How did my mum get to be the hero of my story?’”
What my transcription doesn’t convey is Gadsby’s timing and her shift in tone, as this deeply emotional anecdote ends in playful snark.

Nanette is a filmed performance, a monologue, in which comedian Hannah Gadsby talks about gender, sexuality, homophobia, misogyny, mental illness, sexual assault, art history, coming out, the cost of comedy, and the difference between jokes and stories. I highly recommend Nanette. If I were still teaching, I’d offer a warning about language and show it to a class. Instead I’m making this post.

I began reading a New York Times article about Hannah Gadbsy and Nanette and didn’t get very far before deciding to watch. Nanette is streaming at Netflix.

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