It’s not everyday you get to see a performer with the emotional gravitas that Hannah Gadsby has. After ripping out the collective hearts of the world with their show, Nanette in 2018 and winning a Peabody and Emmy for the work, Gadsby’s star has continued to rise.

It’s an odd position to be in, Gadsby’s heartfelt account of trauma and abuse made them an international celebrity, but what comes next? How do you deal with not only everyone knowing your most intimate secrets, but wanting more?

Since Nanette, Gadsby hasn’t rested on their laurels, in fact, there’s several more Netflix specials to enjoy as well as a touring schedule of new material. Which is where WOOF! Comes in. A vague title, sure, most of Gadsby’s audience know they love dogs, (their last special, Douglas, was named after their dog) and so a familiarity with their previous work is expected.

The show opens with an up-and-coming comedy performer – on the evening I attended it was the charming Urooj Ashfaq, who had a way of putting the crowd at ease with her self-deprecating humour. It’s incredible (but not surprising) to see Gadsby supporting and championing new comedy talent.

For the main event, Gadsby seems more relaxed. Ironic, given the show is about anxiety, but their trademark turn of phrase and wit is as sharp as ever. As Gadsby navigates this new world of stardom, wealth and everything else that comes with it, they open up about panic attacks, feminism, fear of being cancelled and try as they might, not being able to get on the Swifty bandwagon.

WOOF! is far more open and improvisational in its structure, the clever set ups for jokes that land an hour later aren’t necessarily there and Gadsby seems open to go-with-the-flow and interact with the audience. It almost harks back to an earlier Gadsby, back when they used to perform on the ABC but a more polished version.  

Perhaps WOOF! isn’t groundbreaking, perhaps we didn’t have a deep and meaningful evening of heartfelt exposition, or discover some hidden truth, but WOOF! is a great night out at the theatre. Gadsby and their show is clever, silly, and most importantly, very, very funny,

Event details

2024 Melbourne International Comedy Festival
WOOF!
Hannah Gadsby

Venue: Arts Centre Melbourne, Playhouse | Arts Centre Melboure Saint Kilda Road Melbourne
Dates: 28 March – 20 April 2024
Tickets: $79 – $55
Bookings: www.artscentremelbourne.com.au/whats-on/2024/comedy/hannah-gadsby-woof

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