Hannah Gadsby realised she had forgotten to come out to her Grandma when she was asked if she had a boyfriend. She told her grandmother that she didn’t have time for boyfriends. Plural.
The Australian comedian shares this story and many others in her Netflix standup special ‘Nanette’. The show, being praised around the world, takes a deep look at gender, sexuality and abuse, whilst putting society’s general presumptions and views under the magnifying glass.
Hannah shares her experiences of growing up in a small town in Tasmania, coming to terms with her homosexuality and living in a state where homosexuality was illegal until 1997, or as she describes, “not long enough ago”.
Hannah has the audience in laughter with her observations and one-liners. However, this laughter unexpectedly turns into tears of sadness and shock as Hannah shares her inner turmoil and devastating experiences. But, as heartbreaking as Hannah’s story is at times, she reminds the audience that she is not a victim.
The multi award-winning comedian is known for her stand up shows and for appearing in television shows such as ABC’s Adam Hills Tonight and Josh Thomas’ Please Like Me.
During ‘Nanette’, Hannah takes the opportunity to announce that she will be quitting her comedy career due to the toll that her self-deprecating humour has taken on her life.
“I have built a career out of self-deprecating humour… and I simply will not do that anymore, not to myself or anybody who identifies with me. Do you understand what self-deprecation means when it comes from somebody who already exists in the margins? It’s not humility, it’s humiliation.”
One moment you will be laughing at Hannah’s jokes and the next, your heart will be dropping through your stomach as she reveals personal stories and experiences; the Sydney Opera House audience so quiet, you could hear a pin drop.
After ten years of standup comedy, Hannah seriously started to question her comedy career after her mother told her,
“The thing I regret is that I raised you as if you were straight… I knew well before you did that your life was going to be so hard… I made it worse because I wanted you to change, because I knew the world wouldn’t”
Hannah reveals her own experiences of rape, child abuse and physical attacks; the latter, a gendered attack because she was seen as “incorrectly female” by her attacker.
It is moments like these where Hannah jerks you out of your laughter and reminds the audience of the still prevalent violence, stereotypes and discrimination against the LGBTQI community.
She also takes aim at people’s obsession with the reputation of men such as Donald Trump and Harvey Weinstein, not the woman who they allegedly abused.
Hannah tells the audience that she didn’t come out to her Grandma because she is still ashamed of who she is.
“The closet can only stop you from being seen, it is not shame-proof”.
Hannah Gadsby wants her story heard; she would have given anything to hear a story like her own.
“Diversity is strength… There is nothing stronger than a broken woman who has rebuilt herself”.
‘Nanette’ is completely deserving of the praise and awards it is receiving around the world and is a must-see. It is a smart, witty and at times, tragic reflection on Hannah’s life and the hardships she, and many others still face today.
‘Nanette’ is available to stream on Netflix.
Written by Greta Lannen