3 Best Movies to Watch by Hannah Gadsby

Staff & contributors

There is a lot to appreciate and learn from this work, which is a streamlined history of queer standup with so many enlightening stories. There is a LOT of standup footage and commentary from different eras, and different flavors between them evoking crass, feel-good, and revolutionary — which is reason enough to dive in. It’s got a self-assured tone to it, thanks to all the unapologetic and quick-witted figures telling their story and choosing to make it one of inspiration. In a word, it’s an informative celebration of queer standup comics, of tapping into empowered selves on and off-stage, reminding us that activism is always within reach.

Genre: Comedy, Documentary

Actor: Alec Mapa, Bill Clinton, Billy Eichner, Bob the Drag Queen, Bruce Vilanch, Carol Burnett, Cher, Conan O'Brien, Dave Holmes, David Letterman, Diane Sawyer, Eddie Izzard, Eddie Murphy, Ellen DeGeneres, Fortune Feimster, Gina Yashere, Guy Branum, Hannah Gadsby, James Adomian, Joel Kim Booster, Judy Gold, Lily Tomlin, Lucille Ball, Madonna, Mae Martin, Margaret Cho, Marsha Warfield, Matteo Lane, Patti Harrison, Richard Pryor, River Butcher, Ronald Reagan, Rosie O'Donnell, Sandra Bernhard, Scott Thompson, Sonny Bono, Susan Stryker, Tig Notaro, Todd Glass, Trixie Mattel, Wanda Sykes

Director: Page Hurwitz

Rating: R

As host Hannah Gadsby explains at the beginning of this stand-up showcase, Netflix only really gave her and these other queer comedians this special after Gadsby sent a strongly worded message to the streaming service first. So as expected from a move that feels more like a business decision than a sincere gesture, Hannah Gadsby's Gender Agenda doesn't dive too deeply into trans rights or totally reignite the conversation surrounding the issue. It does, however, give us generally consistent laughs over the course of its 75 minutes, from seven comics with very distinct personalities and perspectives. No comedy showcase is perfectly coherent, and Gender Agenda definitely has its share of awkward moments. But even in its weaker moments, there's still something refreshing about watching these queer comics simply exist as themselves, separate from all the cartoonish vitriol that transphobic comedians have for them on the same type of stage. And while these seven comedians center their routines on their respective identities, they're never obnoxious or angry (like those other comedians may want you to believe). There's a generosity in how they educate and deconstruct things for the audience, and a self-awareness of the conflicts that continue to exist around them—which they still look at with good humor.

Genre: Comedy

Actor: Alok, Ashley Ward, Chloe Petts, DeAnne Smith, Graham Norton, Hannah Gadsby, Jes Tom

Director: Julian Smith

Rating: R