Hannah Gadsby’s newest Netflix comedy offering, Something Special is unlike the other two they’ve done: This is supposed to be a relatively straightforward stand-up special, one that is supposed to make the audience laugh and have an hour-long good time, with no serious commentary. Gadsby promises through the set that they are not doing a bait-and-switch, as they did in the amazing and profound show Nanette.
Watching Hannah perform in the new Netflix special felt like hanging out with other autistic people, and getting to talk about all of the things that many neurotypical people don’t need to chat about—such as not realizing that you look like a complete asshole in the moment of an encounter, and only later realizing this as your significant other explains to you that you were, in fact, offending many people during the occasion.
I watch a fair amount of stand-up specials (maybe one every two months or so), so there’s a wonderful kind of levity I felt in seeing an autistic person talk about things I’ve experienced myself—especially because autistic people are starved for authentic representation. One of the best features of Hannah’s standup, to me, is their non-linear storytelling and the interweaving of multiple different subplots, which reminded me of many video games I’ve played with the main mission and side missions. Also, the show’s ending absolutely pays off and it’s definitely worth watching until the very end.
And even though this is a “feel good” special, Hannah also talks about some really personal things, like panic attacks, but not in a way that makes the content a “big deal”—and that’s really refreshing. There is no dramatization here, only an autistic comedian using their skills to make a great stand-up special. And it is, genuinely, hilarious.
There were many times that I laughed at a joke thinking “the allistic (non-autistic) people in my life would never laugh as hard at this” and being grateful that an autistic comedian exists and has gotten this much exposure, and is able to make content for autistic people themselves. Hannah Gadsby’s rightful success gives me hope that we’ll be seeing more (openly) autistic people out there in the world, and with that, hopefully, there will be more understanding from the allistic people around us.
Spoilers/Content Warning: If you are interested in watching Something Special but need content warnings, note that there is a mention of a dying rabbit at the end of the special.