Per narfna’s recommendation, I ordered a copy of this off of Thriftbooks for $5 and set about reading it. Full disclosure out the gate: I’ve never understood Hannah Gadbsy’s appeal, try as I might. I’m autistic myself, meaning I’ve naturally given them their fair chance, trying first (unsuccessfully) to make it through Nanette, the special this book leads up to, before watching the entirety of Douglas. And I think this book solidifies the opinion I formulated after Douglas, which is that Gadsby is the sort of person I could see myself befriending and enjoying banter with, but not one that I often find funny in the sense that what they say will actually elicit an audible reaction. I don’t have any sort of deep-seated hatred for them, nor am I triggered by the things they talk about. We just aren’t a match as far as comedy is concerned, and that’s perfectly alright. It doesn’t need to be anything greater than that.
Onto the book, having not made it through the entirety of Nanette, the trauma-dumping was still surprising to me, and I immediately understood why they needed something major to work through it. It was particularly shocking too, since I’d just watched Douglas, where one piece of their traumatic backstory was gussied up some and robbed of almost all of its bite for the sake of humor. Knowing that Douglas followed Nanette, I’m not sure if I’m to read that as a positive sign or not. Have they put it past themselves to the point that it no longer has the “bite” for them either? They say repeatedly in that special that they can take it, that all the hate fuels them, a statement which seems at odds with the departure from social media they mention in the book. I’m stuck between the overwhelming thought of “it’s none of your business” and the competing one, which is “after all this, I just hope they are still okay.”
That mostly sums up my thoughts about the books as a whole, too. I wish everybody who piled on Gadsby was given this as assigned reading. It’s wishful thinking that they’d a) read the entire thing and b) change in any discernible way, but a guy can hope that seeing somebody with all their insecurities laid bare would allow you to realize maybe this person isn’t the demon you’re making them out to be. It’s a wonder they got through it all, through all your harassment, through all the physical and mental trauma, through the un-diagnosed ADHD and autism, through the dysphoria, through being in the closet in a wildly homophobic place, through being a woman (now non-binary) in the male-dominated space that is comedy (where, as they say, women are routinely told they’re one of the few good ones, that the rest of female comedians suck), etc. I may not be a “fan” of Gadsby, but I do have a newfound respect for them, so thank you for that, narfna.