Sunday, July 05, 2020

Hannah Gadsby and the figure of having to laugh when the joke's on you

In "Nanette", Hannah Gadsby brings up the cliché that lesbians don't think jokes about lesbians are funny but adds that they have to laugh at such jokes because if they don't, it "proves the point." This figure of having to laugh to protect oneself also comes up in Gadsby's "Douglas" when she warns anti-vaxxers that they "will not like this next bit": "But if you’ve been laughing [...] and you suddenly stop now, everyone will know." That is, if your group is the butt of a joke, there's pressure to laugh along with it so as to not reveal yourself as a member of that group who "can't take a joke." (Andrew Shields, #111words, 5 July)


Nanette: What sort of comedian can’t even make the lesbians laugh? Every comedian ever. That’s a good joke, isn’t it? Classic. It’s bulletproof, too. Very clever, because it’s funny… because it’s true. The only people who don’t think it’s funny… are us lezzers… But we’ve got to laugh… because if we don’t… proves the point. Checkmate.


Douglas: if you are an anti-vaxxer, I can guarantee you, you will not like this next bit. But if you’ve been laughing the whole way through the show and you suddenly stop now, everyone will know.

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