Hannah Gadsby tackles the topic on just about every queer comedian’s lips, same-sex marriage, with her latest show, Hannah Wants A Wife – showing at Sydney’s Comedy Store for the rest of the week.
In the past she’s managed to turn topics such as her tense relationship with her mother, her health problems and her battles with depression into winning on-stage fodder, so it’s odd that proceedings don’t start all that strongly this time around. Her opening raft of gay marriage jokes stick too closely to the sort of jibes we’ve already heard from other, less inspired comedians: cheap cracks about Julia Gillard’s ‘defacto union with a male hairdresser’ and a line about the religious establishment being made up of men in frocks. You get the drift.
Thankfully, she soon veers into far more idiosyncratic – and therefore stronger – territory. Gadsby puts her Bachelor of Art History and Curatorship to good use, dissecting the famous ‘Arnolfini Portrait’ by Flemish master Jan Van Eyck at length. She thought she understood the painting to be a representation of marriage, but on a trip to London’s National Gallery her misconceptions were exposed. It turned out, everything she thought she knew about this marriage-related painting was wrong (and if you missed the subtext there, don’t worry – Gadsby runs through it again in a hilarious dot-point slide show at the end of the night).
As Gadsby herself muses at one point, it’s questionable whether anybody on the other side of the marriage debate would even find themselves at a show by this lovable lezzie. So while she may be preaching to the choir, she’s singing from a pretty wonderful songsheet.
info: Hannah Wants A Wife, Comedy Store, until October 14. www.comedystore.com.au