Hannah Gadsby: Nanette

In keeping with my distressing habit of doing the doggy-paddle several years behind any and all pop culture waves, I present you with my latest discovery: the comedy special Nanette, by Hannah Gadsby. It’s from 2017. You’ll find it on Netflix, because they released it in 2018.

In my own defense, it only just received a Creative Arts Emmy for Outstanding Writing for a Variety Special last month. That’s how I managed to hear any buzz at all about it. And I’m so grateful that I did. I have this interview on PRI’s Studio 360 to thank for that.

Before this, I’d never heard of the Australian comedian Hannah Gadsby. Having seen Nanette, I feel as though calling her a comedian is a bit too simplistic. And if all you’re looking for is a few easy laughs, you might want to look elsewhere.

No. This show makes you think. It makes you laugh. It makes you squirm. It makes you cry. It makes you see the world differently. It has substance and value. If you see no other show, see this one.

The special starts off funny enough. She’s hilarious, actually. And this humor is her way of introducing herself to you. So you’ll listen. So you’ll take note.

But about half way through, the show takes a rather intense turn. It becomes a confession about who she is and how she feels about herself, and why we all should realize how important that is. And then it turns into an education. It demonstrates exactly what it’s like to be inside her skin.

So I leave you with a few quickly written quotes that I jotted down while watching the show for the second time. Out of context, entirely. You should watch the show. But these things should make you blink, at the very least.

This first one made me cheer, because I relate to it so much.

“All my life I’ve been told, ‘Don’t be so sensitive!’ Why is insensitivity something to strive for?”

“You learn from the part of the story you focus on.”

She states that Pablo Picasso had an affair with a 17 year old girl, and suffered from the mental illness of misogyny. And that misogyny should be considered a mental illness because you hate the thing you desire. She also said that Pablo Picasso said, “Each time I leave a woman I should burn her. Destroy the woman and you destroy the past she represents.”

She then goes on a very fascinating rant about art history, and all the unnecessary nude paintings of women, and said that high art turns women into “flesh vases for your dick flowers.” (Harsh, I know. You have to see the special to really get it. But once you do, you can’t forget it.)

She also says, “If I am the only woman in the room, I’m afraid,” and went on to say if you don’t understand that, you aren’t talking to the women in your life. Amen, sister.

But by far the best quote of all from this show is “There is nothing stronger than a broken woman who has rebuilt herself.”

What a fantastic show. What a profound show. Watch it, then tell me what you think.

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The Worst Movie I’ve Ever Seen

It’s four o’clock in the morning and I’m at work with absolutely nothing to do. Thank God for cable TV, right? Well, I’m here to tell you that’s not the case at 4 a.m. I settled on a movie called “Trucks”. Based on a Stephen King story, this movie was made in 1997 and starred Timothy Busfield, an actor I’ve always liked, so in spite of the cheesy description (“A gas-station owner must figure out a way to stop a band of marauding, driverless vehicles.”) I figured, what the heck. Not like I had anything better to do.

This is supposed to be a horror film, but it was so bad that it wound up feeling more like a comedy. Here were some of the highlights. Or maybe they should be called lowlights.

  • A group of people are trapped in a restaurant together as driverless trucks drive around and around and around out front, and Timothy Busfield earnestly says that the one advantage they have is that they’re smarter than the trucks.
  • One man posits that this situation must surely have something to do with Area 51.
  • A postman is delivering mail on a mysteriously deserted business street (perhaps he is delivering on a Sunday, who knows?), when a tonka truck bursts through the window of a toy store and crashes into his ankle. He says ouch. The truck backs up and hits him again. He falls in the street. The truck rams his head. Candy apple red blood spurts everywhere. The toy truck rams him over and over again until he’s dead. Close up on the truck, with slimy guts all over the radiator.
  • Busfield spends a great deal of time figuring out how to distract the trucks.
  • Redneck number 1 decides to make Molotov cocktails and throw them at one of the trucks. Redneck number 2 gets ticked off because the truck in question is his truck. So he runs outside and jumps behind the wheel, but of course he can’t control the truck. Redneck 1 throws another Molotov cocktail at the truck. The hood bursts into flame. The truck crashes into the building and it explodes, taking both rednecks with it.
  • A man is working on a truck that he intends to use to make their escape (because amidst all this chaos, he apparently hasn’t figured out that trucks are the enemy), and when he finally gets it fixed, the truck pins him against the garage door, crushing him to death. His hysterical wife chases the truck down and attacks it with an ax. She has to be knocked out with convenient tranquilizers. She later wanders off and gets run down by a truck that she apparently can’t hear coming and isn’t anticipating. Are they really smarter than the trucks?
  • Since they are trapped together in a building, being attacked by enemies, a guy who is supposed to be an aging flower child says, “Now we know how Mayor Daley felt in Chicago ’68.”
  • All the trucks converge in the parking lot and begin honking to each other. “They must be communicating,” Busfield says.
  • The people in the restaurant receive their news via an old television. On more than one occasion it shows static, then you hear the reporter’s voice, then the cook reaches up and turns a nob on the TV to tune it and they get to see the report. The only problem is there’s no nob on the TV.
  • Two teens take refuge from the trucks in a drainage ditch, and a demonic dump truck pours rocks to block their exit.
  • The payphone in the besieged parking lot begins to ring. Someone says, “Maybe we should answer that.” Someone else says, “It may be a trick.” Someone does answer, and of course gets mowed down by a truck.
  • Busfield finally figures out that the trucks want him to give them gas. He goes out and starts nervously pumping. His love interest races out to him and he says, “What are you doing? Get back inside!” She says, “No! You’re going to need help!”
  • The cook decides to shoot out one of the headlights of an approaching truck. That sends it into the ditch. In retaliation, another truck crashes through the restaurant. So Busfield shoots it. One shot and the whole place explodes.
  • A lineman with the power company is trying to restore power to the area since the trucks took out a transformer. He’s up in his cherry picker when his truck comes to life and rams him into the power lines where he’s electrocuted in a hail of sparks and bursts into flame. The truck actually growls in satisfaction.
  • The few survivors hike out of the area and are conveniently rescued by a helicopter, barely escaping annihilation by a semi-truck as they’re trying to get on board. Hurray! They’re saved. And then they notice (spoiler alert) no one is piloting the helicopter. The end.

I don’t know how they managed it, but they combined the worst special effects with the worst acting and the worst sound and the world’s most pathetic choice in music. It was just epically bad.Timothy Busfield must be mortified in retrospect. I’d love to know the thought process in making this movie. How many people looked at it and said, “Oh, yeah! This is going to be great!”  The director would have been better off playing it off as a comedy spoof of horror films, but apparently he took this fiasco seriously right to the bitter end.

I haven’t laughed so hard in years. The only thing that would have made the experience better was if it had been featured in Mystery Science Theater 3000.

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