Hannah Gadsby | West Australian
Before Hannah Gadsby started writing a new stand-up show, she’s already figured out what she wants her to do and how she wants to let her audience feel.
With Nanette, a defining show for her career when she landed on Netflix in 2018, she wanted people to leave feeling like she had punched them in the guts, which she absolutely achieved.
For the follow-up to Douglas, named after one of her two dogs, Gadsby aimed to make them feel like she had searched and rearranged their thinking a bit, “not unsettlingly but playfully, even if it was always a hectic thing and I wanted to confuse people ”.
Given where the world is at on his latest show, Body of Work, it’s all about wanting audiences to feel like they’ve just gotten a hug and a little break.
“I don’t try to solve problems, I just don’t have the answers and hope people don’t expect me to, so I look forward to telling stories,” says Gadsby. “And I recently got married, so it’s kind of on that.”
Gadsby married producer Jenney Shamash in January under a tree in their front yard where they live in the Victoria area. The couple escaped Victoria’s “petri dish” in time for Gadsby to perform Body of Work as a child, the state of Tasmania, where they stayed until the WA stage, starting in Albany this evening with dates in Bunbury and Mandurah before a season at The Theater Regal from September 9-11.
The extra time in Tassie gave Gadsby a chance to continue working on her book, a memoir wrapped around Nanette Road as she made her way from the small town of Tasmania to the world stage. He also took material from an unfinished book the actress had tried to write years earlier, but her lack of focus due to undiagnosed autism and hyperactivity disorder. Carefulness turned out to make the process too difficult.
“By the time I understood my peculiarities and my atypical situation, Nanette eventually arrived and I had to write it again because that’s what people care about,” Gadsby explains.
The process of diagnosing her autism and ADHD took place in the years 2015 and 2016, during which time she took some time to figure out exactly what that meant before sharing the news publicly.
“People don’t understand autism and they’re very quick to deny your experience if you’re an older woman,” she says.
“So it was a long process that involved quite a bit of heartbreak and reengineering my understanding of myself. I think that was part of what ended up making Nanette a thing. I had to change the way. the way people understood me on stage because I had built a pretty difficult character on stage, so to speak, because I didn’t understand myself.
“It was a real tangle and I would really recommend people to get diagnosed earlier in life. It helps in the end, but it’s very shocking and uncomfortable.
So when Gadsby took the stage in the deeply personal Nanette and announced that she was leaving comedy, it was more about giving up what comedy audiences expected of her.
“At this point my life was just going to the same festivals every year, writing a new time and touring, so it wasn’t me leaving comedy but a way of telling my audience, technically who I had been with. a relationship with for years, that this pattern was finished for me “, she specifies.” I could not have continued as I had been. I do not know what would have happened if Nanette had not Hadn’t been a success Honestly, I think I should have taken a sabbatical and had other shifts at my brother’s fruit and veg store.
Fortunately, Nanette became a worldwide hit and gave Gadsby the ability to design his own brand of comedy show more accessible to someone on the spectrum.
The downside to Gadsby’s explosion in international popularity, which spanned over 10 years and saw her win the Emmy and Peabody Awards, was that it sent her through episodes of major depression from two months, probably exacerbated by the fact that she couldn’t completely walk away. the treadmill.
“I had a really good team around me, so together we were able to put the pieces back together that were me,” Gadsby reveals. “In the past when I had these episodes I was on my own, so while the intensity was really tough, the support network I made easier.”
Her experience with Nanette was certainly on Gadsby’s mind in 2019 when she started working on Douglas (filmed in Los Angeles for Netflix in February of last year), so she made a promise to herself to hunt her curiosity before chasing what people expected of her.
“But my curiosity has pretty much always been about what people expect from me,” she laughs.
“It got really fun and at this point there was no way I could live up to Nanette and it would have been a mad rush to try to make it a similar show. To be absolutely honest, Douglas is technically a better show. It’s not as powerful, because Nanette was from a moment and something different, but there are layers in Douglas because I wanted a show that could withstand multiple viewings.
Gadsby, who graduated in art history and hosted three art documentaries, was inspired by the portrayal of women throughout art history when it came to taking the striking photos black and white advertisements, illustrated on the left, for his latest show, Body of Travail.
“They are still depicted with just their bodies, and in ancient relics their heads and arms are missing,” she says. “So I took the principle of a bust, which is always made for people you think are important; you old men throughout history, for the most part. I wanted to take off my glasses and all the trims people associate with my identity, to remind people that I am not the specific thing a public figure suggests.
Gadsby points out that despite appearances, she was not naked for the photoshoot and had simply removed the straps from a swimsuit to turn it into a nipple tube. “So that was all business from start to finish,” she says. “It was pretty fun, but I had just been released from the hospital after having had a total knee reconstruction, so I was still taking pain relievers, to be honest.”
Hannah Gadsby – Body of Work is at the Albany Entertainment Center on September 1, the Bunbury Regional Entertainment Center on September 3, the Mandurah Performing Arts Center on September 4, and the Regal Theater on September 9-11.