Runtime: 72 Minutes
Director: Madeleine Parry
Writer: Hannah Gadsby
Star: Hannah Gadsby
By Jenni Holtz
Following her groundbreaking comedy special “Nanette” (2018), Australian comedian Hannah Gadsby became a household name. Praised for her honesty and blend of drama and comedy, Gadsby garnered a lot of attention with “Nanette,” leaving audiences eagerly awaiting her next special. Her second Netflix special, “Douglas” (2020), named for her beloved dog, does not disappoint.
The special begins with an outline of the topics to come, which may not sound very fun but rest assured, Gadsby’s whip-smart humor makes it exciting. She gives nuggets of information that add layers to later jokes, letting the audience in on a bit of the process. Then, she follows her meticulous outline, sharing stories about sexist doctors and seamlessly transitioning to observations of women in Renaissance paintings.
“Gadsby proves that in order for comedy to be “politically correct,” it doesn’t have to be dull. It can even make things funnier.”
She employs slideshow comedy, call-backs to previous jokes, and genius wordplay, making the show jam-packed with jokes from start to finish. Every rewatch reveals more jokes that may have been missed the first time around. Gadsby is truly one of the best comedians working right now and “Douglas” is a delight that displays her masterful approach to comedy.
“The combined use of wordplay, observational humor, and hyper-specific art history quips make Hannah Gadsby’s “Douglas” special both classic and fresh.”
Gadsby doesn’t shy away from topics considered taboo or political, discussing everything from autism to dog parks to anti-vaxxers. What sets Gadsby apart is her care. She does not take the easy way out and she does not punch down. Instead, she treats each topic with respect and perspective, knowing exactly when a joke can or cannot be made.
Gadsby proves that in order for comedy to be “politically correct,” it doesn’t have to be dull. It can even make things funnier. When Gadsby talks about the frustration of women being told to smile, she adds to the end: “And non-binary folk are like, oh, that’s a tough day for you?” It only takes an extra sentence to include non-binary viewers in a way that makes the joke even better.
Whether you loved “Nanette” or never got the chance to see it, “Douglas” is an absolute delight to watch. The combined use of wordplay, observational humor, and hyper-specific art history quips make Hannah Gadsby’s “Douglas” special both classic and fresh, so diehard comedy fans and those new to the genre will find something to love.