Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Hannah Gadsby in The Exhibitionist, April 1, 2014 ***

Melbourne International Comedy Festival
Supper Room, Melbourne Town Hall, until April  20, 2014 
Reviewer: Kate Herbert

Review also online at Herald Sun. KH 
In her new show, The Exhibitionist, Hannah Gadsby indulges her love of “selfies” and links it with her other love – Renaissance portraiture.

Accompanied only by a remote control, Gadbsy clicks through dozens of photos of herself, taken by Gadsby, her friends or strangers in a show that would be the ultimate display of self-absorption if not for her constant self-deprecation.

The selfie, she quips, is the epitome of vanity and loneliness, and Gadsby’s collection of other people’s images of themselves demonstrates this vividly.

People take selfies in wildly inappropriate locations, such as the blokes who showed off his muscles with a grubby urinal in the background or the woman who forgot to tidy her bedroom first.

Gadsby’s patter is fast, rambling and amusing, albeit not always laugh-out-loud funny, and she has now left behind the deadpan style of her early shows.

She gets plenty of laughs from the slide show of images of herself that includes embarrassing, candid, drunk pics, sad 9 year-old and geeky teenage Gadsby, the pensive traveller, the Michelin Man look-alike and bad-hair Hannah.

However, the biggest laughs are saved for her collection of photos that show how much Vladimir Putin and Justin Bieber have in common: an obsession with big guns, little animals, water sports, sunglasses – and total arrogance.

Her parade of Renaissance self-portraits highlights not only her knowledge of art history but also an astute comic sensibility as she draws parallels between our modern self-obsession and the conceit of the early portrait painters.

All the threads comes together in her final Memorial to Hannah Gadsby, a series of selfies that echo Putin, Bieber and the Renaissance portraits.

By Kate Herbert

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