Hannah Gadsby’s “Nanette”

 

The other night I watched “Nanette” on Netflix. It’s billed as a stand-up special from Australian Comic Hannah Gadsby. I had heard she tied art history into her routine and I was intrigued. I like art. I like history. I like comedy. Win-win-win.

 

When I tell people to seek out “The Babadook” because it’s a deep, philosophical take on traditional horror films, I’m not wrong. But to suggest it is merely a deep, philosophical take is bullshit on my part. It’s scary. It’s supposed to be, granted, but my underselling that aspect is still bullshit. I’m telling you this because for anyone to tell you “Nanette” is merely a stand-up special is also bullshit. It’s funny, yes. But I’m not going to lie to you and tell you it’s only funny. Because it isn’t.

 

And I’m wrenched by that. I knew while I was watching “Nanette” that I was bearing witness to something daring. Something smart and moving. And yes, something funny. Gadsby’s humor is intelligent and biting. And I loved that part of this special. But I also loved how honest and real “Nanette” is. It broke me. It actually left me sobbing, friends. Gadsby somehow touched on all the colors of my soul, the lights and the darks. Honestly – I can’t remember any comic ever moving me the way Hannah Gadsby did with her “Nanette.”

 

When I finished watching, I turned to Mister and said, “That may have been the best TED talk I’ve seen in recent memory.” And it was. It is. I’m telling you this, not to discourage you from watching, but precisely because I think you should watch “Nanette.” I just want you to know that if you do, you’re in for so much more than comedy. Your funny bone will be tickled. But don’t be surprised if your heart cracks open a bit, too. That’s nothing to fear. It’s just the ache of making room for more love.

 

How I wish everyone could feel that ache.

The End of An Era

 

 

Tonight will mark the end of an era: David Letterman’s last show airs this evening.

 

I was a kid when Letterman took to the late-night airwaves. For the life of me, I don’t know how I knew about him. My parents weren’t fans. My friends weren’t staying up late enough to watch his show. Back in those days, Dave didn’t come on until 12:30 in the am. I’m talking school nights, people. I remember sneaking out of bed to watch, but I couldn’t tell you anything more. I just don’t recall. I certainly don’t remember standing around, talking about the previous night’s show with folks at school. But I was definitely affected. Terms like “stupid pet tricks” and “my brush with greatness” became part of my lexicon. Letterman was such a dork. Brilliant, to be sure, but a dork just the same. My adolescent sense of humor found a kindred spirit in Dave. Again – I don’t know how I knew to watch. But I did.

 

At best, I’ve been a fair-weather fan over the years. I’ve watched here and there, but not consistently. And that’s my loss. But whenever someone suggested to me that this host or that was the best, I never held back in professing my loyalty to Letterman. Even when I wasn’t watching regularly, I was a devoted fan. Always.

 

Mister and I have been watching every episode for the last few weeks, as we’ve known the end was nigh. And now it’s here. Because Letterman has been a constant in my little world, I am heart-broken over the end of his show. I understand, of course. The guy’s due. I get it. I suppose it’s just that, well, I’m losing a hero.

 

We all want to feel like someone gets us. We seek those sorts of simpatico relationships throughout our lives. And that desire extends beyond our real relationships to our reel relationships. I’ve never met David Letterman. In all likelihood, I’m not gonna. But I like to imagine that if I did know the guy, at least once – while hanging out and tooling around – we would have called a “how’s my driving” number on the back of a big-rig, just to mess with the operator. And we would have laughed. Boy-howdy, would we have laughed…

Nanu Nanu

 

 

For those of us who grew up watching “Mork & Mindy”… For those of us who actually owned rainbow-striped suspenders… For those of us who went to see Disney’s “Aladdin”, even though we weren’t kids (nor did we have any)… For those of us who were profoundly affected by “Dead Poets Society” and “Good Will Hunting”… For those of us who just like to freakin’ laugh…

 

I’m not gonna lie, y’all. I was in my car when I learned of Robin Williams’ death and I cried. He was only 63. Kids may think that’s old, but those of us with actual living under our belts know it’s young.

 

I understand depression and I understand demons. I will never ever judge anyone for battling either of those ills. But it still breaks my heart when we lose someone to that struggle. And to lose someone I’ve relied on for laughter and entertainment, for so very long – well, I am stunned.

 

But it occurs to me that if Robin Williams had never decided to give comedy a try, I wouldn’t miss him. I would never have known there was someone to miss. But he did go for it. And how! So I’m incredibly grateful that wonderfully wacky guy landed in my living room and challenged The Fonz on “Happy Days.” I’m grateful he and Pam Dawber made me want to go to Boulder, Colorado and see that cute town through their work on “Mork & Mindy.” And after all these years and a jillion roles, I’m grateful Robin Williams stuck around as long as he did and gave the world so much of his soul.

 

He will be missed.

Speaking of Dying…

 

 

I’ve been reading Laurie Kilmartin’s tweets about her father’s death. (If you’re interested, here’s the link. You have to go back to about February 20th.) As a cave-dweller, I don’t follow anyone on Twitter. But my comic friend – who is also Kilmartin’s friend – told me about it and I finally got around to checking it out. I’ve heard Kilmartin has gained about 50,000 followers over the course of sharing this process, so I guess a lot of folks checked it out.

 

I’ve seen Laurie Kilmartin perform stand-up a few times, but I don’t know her. She writes for Conan O’Brien and she’s funny. That’s the most I could tell you. When my comic friend told me about Kilmartin’s recent tweets, I was mildly interested. When I read a big story about her and how some folks were not amused by her live-tweeting her father’s final days, I knew it was time to check out her feed.

 

Why don’t we talk about death? It affects each and every one of us, like it or not. It’s a natural part of the world and it’s occurring every second of every day. So why don’t we talk about it? What are we afraid of – that if we speak aloud of death, some scythe-wielding, hooded creature will appear behind us, ready to provide a one-way ticket to the other side?

 

I don’t know when we’re gonna go, friends, but I do know we’re all gonna go. We can’t jinx ourselves by merely discussing death. That only happens if we cross against the lights or mix water and electricity (or commit some other idiotic move). Our job is to do the best we can, be as safe as we can, and live while we can. That’s it.

 

Talking about the end of life is perfectly fine. And I’m pretty sure it helps. It can’t prevent the pain of loss, nor can it bypass the grieving process. But talking sure can alleviate the mystery darkness brought on by death. If only a little. I know that when I’ve lost someone, sharing the hurt has been an important part of getting through it. I’ve still had to get through it, mind you, and some losses just don’t happen then disappear, either. Some are felt for always. But it still helps to talk. I firmly believe this.

 

So I read through all the Laurie Kilmartin tweets. She’s funny, to be sure. But she’s also deeply possessed of heart and soul. The tweets made me chuckle, and they made me close my eyes, too. Kilmartin – like the rest of us – is doing the best she can in the face of a hard situation. Sharing her loss has clearly been part of her coping mechanism.

 

I appreciate her honesty. I appreciate her humor. And though I never knew him, I now appreciate her dad as well. Anyone with 5 dogs named “Pepsi” is alright with me.

Aziz Ansari – Yes!

 

 

Last night, after a crazy-ass day, Mister and I watched “Aziz Ansari: Buried Alive.” We also split an amazing bottle of Barbera D’Asti and had some Italian Chicken Chili that had been cooking in the crock-pot for hours.

 

The thing about Ansari is he’s smart. He digs deep, and he knows how to circle back around. Honestly, I think I kept drinking because I was laughing so danged much.

 

We watched this show on Netflix, streaming, in case you’re interested. And for what it’s worth, I highly recommend it.

 

It felt so good to laugh. And laugh, we did. Sometimes it seems there’s not enough laughter in the world. I’m so happy we took a little time and allowed ourselves the giggle. It’s good for the soul, you know.

The Best Medicine

 

 

Last night I went out to see some comedy. It was sorely needed.

 

I’m flippin’ optimistic about the new year. I’m doing what I can to keep my positive waves rolling. I’m grateful to be alive. And still I need to laugh now and then. I need my sides to cramp from raucous laughter. I need my eyes to tear up, my cheeks to ache. In short, I need the best medicine life has to offer. Fortunately for me, last night provided just that.

 

Today, I think I may try to laugh as much as possible, even if I’m by myself. Can’t hurt, friends. And it just may help.