What Is The Netflix Special Everyone Is Talking About?
Raised in an isolated town in Tasmania, “Known for potatoes” says comedian Hannah Gadsby, with tongue in cheek in the opening lines of her award-winning comedy show titled "Nanette”. The show has many of these moments which Hannah hilariously delivers about her personal life, and growing up knowing she wasn’t “normal” on the small “bible-belt” island of Tasmania.
Hannah grew up a tomboy who thought homosexuals to be “subhuman” (well, it was a crime to be gay in Tasmania until 1997) until she finally confessed to herself that she was gay. Growing up a homosexual in Tasmania was tough, a place where you were virtually told: “Pack up your AIDS in a suitcase and F___ Off to Mardi Gras”.
“When I heard people saying that homosexuality should be legalised I remember thinking, but how do you stop paedophiles?”
- Hannah Gadsby
My gorgeous girlfriend (and Comedy Festival partner in crime), Tracey, and I saw Hannah perform Nanette in the 2017 festival with our daughters, Taylah and Emma. We didn’t know a lot about the show, but as we were huge fans of Hannah, we went along expecting to see a comedy show that would leave us feeling good. To be honest, we were shocked at what Hannah delivered in the show as it was so “left field” for her and at the end, Hannah revealed agonisingly how she was sexually abused as a child and raped as a young woman. We were in need of a glass of wine after this emotional roller coaster.
But Nannette has been the one comedy show Tracey and I constantly think of and chat about together because it is an inspirational and compelling show, a pure masterpiece where I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry as Hannah forced comedy to confront an important message.
Hannah restructured the customary stand-up comedy show by combining punchlines with personal revelations on gender, sexuality, her childhood turmoil and the violence of growing up gay in a homophobic community. No wonder she won the Barry Award for the most outstanding performance at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival 2017 and performed the show in New York.
Now it is a Netflix hit, a live show filmed at the Sydney Opera House and one I have watched several times. Please do yourself a favour and tune in without knowing too much more about the show. Enjoy her funny and influential messages, her real-life stories, like when she came out to her family and then later her Grandma asked if she had a boyfriend, to which Hannah adds that she had entirely forgotten to come out to her grandmother.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, “Hannah Gadsby's Nanette is a triumph, but it's far from easy watching - for straight white men especially. They state that what you're actually in for is a harangue, a confession, an accusation, a treatise on art history, an interrogation of the dynamics and limitations of stand-up comedy and, finally, a kind of catharsis. It's brilliant and exhausting and when it's all over you'll probably feel the need for a Bex and a good lie down.
But in her way, especially with “gender training” – personally I love every message Hannah delivers in this magical show. (But please be aware that to some people it will be confronting.)
Here is an interview with Hannah I also loved. It goes for 24 minutes but worth viewing.
Carolyn Rowland is a qualified NLP Master Therapist, Advanced Practitioner of Matrix Therapies, Time Line Therapist, Practitioner of Hypnotherapy, has a Diploma for Business and Life Coaching and A Professional Image Stylist. Carolyn is happily married to her husband Simon, and raised four beautiful children, who are now young adults and a teenager.