Hannah Gadsby’s show Nanette (2017–18) starts out funny but then shifts to long, angry monologues that refuse its audience the release of laughter. By breaking the conventional contract between a comedian and her audience, Gadsby rejected her own former practice of turning her traumatic experiences into jokes. Nanette’s international run and subsequent release as a Netflix special spanned th ... (read more)
Sarah Balkin is a Senior Lecturer in English and Theatre Studies at the University of Melbourne. Her current research is on the historical emergence of deadpan style (1830–1930) and its derivations in contemporary queer and feminist comedy.
May 2022, no. 442 • 24 April 2022
A deadpan comedian maintains a straight face or an even tone while delivering ridiculous content. As a performance of humourlessness that makes people laugh, deadpan registers tensions in contemporary culture. Comedy is among the most popular modes of entertainment and social commentary: the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, for example, is Australia’s largest ticketed cultural event, wit ... (read more)