2013 Melbourne International Comedy Festival:
• Hannah Gadsby—Happiness Is A Bedside Table

Posted on 09 April 2013

I get tremendous pleasure watching Hannah Gadsby’s shows at intervals. Back in 2009 I promoted her show Kiss Me Quick I’m Full of Jubes on this blog, because I was already a fan. I watched her climb up the comedy ladder in Adelaide and I fondly remember her performance at the SA Writers’ Centre when I was the Centre’s Webmaster.

Gadsby is in part the reason why I love reviewing new comedians. So much satisfaction is to be found in watching a career grow, improve, and blossom into something exceptional. I so enjoy smiling when Gadsby and others do a good job. Vicarious pride, I suppose.

Happiness Is A Bedside Table is all things I love in comedy. It’s funny, goofy, engages me with cracking good stories, and humane. The show begins with Gadsby talking about what a good year it has been. Not because she’s bragging, but because for the first time at thirty-five—she feels like a grown-up. The bedside table for various reasons represents being grown-up. We are then treated to highlights (and lowlights) of what that process of growing up has been like for Gadsby.

Her story about the waterslide was a corker! It has a Looney Tunes inevitability to each stage of the anecdote. You could just imagine Wile E. Coyote nodding in sympathy. Her stories about coming to terms with her body image hit home with much of the audience. This is an era when we need to freely talk about these things, and comedy is a great way to do it.

My mother teases me about how easily I cry for happy, such as at the end of Wizard of Oz when Dorothy makes it home. Well the ending for Happiness Is A Bedside Table has a cry for happy ending. If you’re not a crier, you’ll probably be smiling and punching your partner in the arm saying, “You old sop.”

With time and experience Gadsby has become a more expressive performer. She has learned to communicate much with well-timed facial articulation. Her show is well-structured with a clear theme that supports layered storytelling. As such, her call-backs have real punch. She has grown into a confident performer with a lovely sense of goodwill when she interacts with her audience. In the end I think the whole audience felt privileged when she trusted us with her vulnerability.

All I can say is, this year has been proving a good one for great comedy. Hannah Gadsby in Happiness Is A Bedside Table has significantly contributed to that awesomeness.


Hannah Gadsby

Peace and kindness,


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