Hannah Gadsby: Her Story In Her Voice

If a name Hannah Gadsby’s doesn’t click your mind, the name Nanette should. The Netflix comedy special by Australian comedian became a huge success in 2018.

Nanette starts as traditional stand-up, with jokes about everyday affronts and entertainments growing up in Gadsby’s native Tasmania as a queer woman. Then, she takes a dark turn, without warning.

Gadsby narrates stories of shock and assault without blenching or easing the tension — even though she admits that it is part and parcel of her job as a comedian.

She has built a profession out of self-deprecating humor, she tells an amazing audience. She says she put herself down in order to talk, in order to seek approval to talk. And she just will not do that anymore — not to herself, or anybody who recognizes with her.

She declared that she was departing comedy, then and there on the stage. But the people weren’t ready to accept that. As word of mouth spread about her, she had immediate and growing fan support. They’d experienced a taste of her incomparable voice and were starving for more.

It was when she was a teenager in Tasmania, at a bus stop, and she got mixed up in a man’s wrath at the way she presented herself, which was not straight or pistillate. So it was about sexuality as much as the sex of the person. she tells the story in the show in starting it looks like it’s a joke, and then Ishe strip it back. So she does what’s known as a callback.

He was a bit of a drunk idiot, who thought she was a gay man trying to hit on his girlfriend. Which still interests her. It’s a funny analogy, and it’s also laughing at the country rustics. You know, they extremely hate gay people.

And then later on in the show, she continues, “He had beaten her up.” And, that is what occurred. And she was still sort of stuck in that shock, and she realized it was because she’d been stopping short whenever she’d tell this story to the world. And the world’s going: “This is an adequate anecdote: a drifter who’s dumb, who’s from the country, who’s homophobic.” We all too quickly laugh at country rustics. But that’s where she’s from. There are people like Nanette living there trying to grow up in those places. … You mock people, they take it out on defenseless people.

Amit Sahai

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