Describing Hannah Gadsby's comedy to someone who's never seen her do standup before is more difficult than one would think. A self-proclaimed fat/depressed lesbian (though she's leaning a little more towards fat/Attention Deficit Hyperactive lesbian nowadays), she has no qualms about making light of her difficulties in life, either because of her mental health, or in spite of it.
Her stage is ethereal, almost. She delivers the show from beside a hodgepodge of hipster-esque items; a collection of oddities – a small globe, a donkey statue, a variety of plants – draped in fairy lights that almost undermines her major story about an insufferable hipster at the café near her house. Almost.
Countering the atmosphere from the set, Gadsby is crass, dry, and above all, real. She specialises in what she grimly titles 'depression comedy', stemming from a long-seated belief in her life that she had depression. Recently she was diagnosed with ADHD and is currently medicated appropriately, which allows her to talk about her fuckups, as she calls them, with a clarity that she wasn't afforded all that long ago.
Some of her most humourous stories are also the saddest, or perhaps vice versa, I'm not completely sure. While her impression of herself as a prickly pufferfish is hilarious, and her defense of her girlfriend in the face of the infuriating café hipster is sweet, said defense almost cost Gadsby her relationship, which makes the start of the story seem painfully unhappy.
The tale that stuck most in my mind, and was the most difficult to explain to people who weren't at her show, is her depression-and-ADHD-fueled denial to do her dishes for 19 days. It wasn't that she didn't want to do them, it was that she'd figure out how to do them beforehand, then have to take a nap because she'd exhausted herself. Or she'd end up sorting socks for six hours instead. They're scenes that are delivered in an entertaining way, but thinking about them reveals real struggles Gadsby has spent her life trying to cope with. One section of the show – blissfully short – revealed her descent into self-harm as a coping mechanism, which was a harsh reality to consider.
So maybe, twisting the hard aspects of her life into a comedy show is a form of therapy. Or maybe she's just a funny weirdo who considers herself a donkey in the light of her unicorn girlfriend. A donkey with issues, maybe, who expresses an oft-unheard realism in a vocation filled with people telling jokes for fun, but just a donkey singing onstage to a crowd of adoring onlookers.