Comedy review: Hannah Gadsby: Woof!, Arts Centre Melbourne, MICF 2024

The star of global hit show 'Nanette' makes a welcome return to the stage.
Hannah Gadsby. Image is a woman with short hair and a black jumper with a big green image of an open mouthed ghost on the front. She is holding a microphone and smiling.

After a charming warm-up act by young Indian comic, Urooj Ashfaq – who talks about such “edgy” topics as her parent’s divorce (commonplace here but still considered unseemly in her Indian birthplace), going to therapy and her Muslim faith – Hannah Gadsby takes to the stage, with the stirring strains of Madonna’s ‘Like a Prayer’, heralding their entrance.

For those who’ve seen Nanette, Gadsby needs no introduction, but for newcomers their comedic style is whip-smart conversational, with a scattergun approach. Indeed, they start off wondering what’s happened to all the Cabbage Patch dolls so prevalent in their youth, then gets stuck into the Barbie movie and Taylor Swift (they are not a fan of either) and hence wonders whether they’d be cancelled by feminism for daring to go against popular opinion. Swifties’ ire aside, there were still plenty of us who laughed and laughed loudly at the singer’s description as being ‘a can of Coke masquerading as a sorority cult’.

But Gadsby roams far and wide in this show – which on this particular night went half an hour over time and is reflective of the ease in which they can talk just about anything and everything. So, whether that’s the World Cup, abortion and the Supreme Court of the US, the death of their father (you’ll learn what “admin grief” is), scatological discoveries in a regional hotel room or swimming with whales, this assured comedian works the crowd with the confidence of someone who’s on top of their game. Oh and they do a damn good dog impersonation too.

Read: Comedy review: Reuben Kaye, Apocalipstik, The Malthouse, MICF 2024

Tickets: $55-$79
Hannah Gadsby, Woof! will be performing at the Arts Centre Melbourne until 20 April 2024 as part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival (MICF 2024).

Thuy On is the Reviews and Literary Editor of ArtsHub and an arts journalist, critic and poet who’s written for a range of publications including The Guardian, The Saturday Paper, Sydney Review of Books, The Australian, The Age/SMH and Australian Book Review. She was the books editor of The Big issue for 8 years. Her debut, a collection of poetry called Turbulence, came out in 2020 and was released by University of Western Australia Publishing (UWAP). Her second collection, Decadence, was published in July 2022, also by UWAP. Her third book, Essence, will be published in 2025. Twitter: @thuy_on Instagram: poemsbythuy