Australian comedian Hannah Gadsby has said she’s had to abandon her plan to quit comedy after the global success of her powerful Netflix special Nanette.
In an appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, the Tasmanian-born comedian said Nanette was initially planned to be her swansong.
She told Fallon, “I’ve been doing these hour-long shows for years. I wrote the show because I’d had enough. It’s a quitting show, I’m quitting. I’ll drop a bomb and leave.
“I really thought it would divide audiences and it just hasn’t. So, when I wrote it I wasn’t meant to go, ‘Oh, I’ll get a Netflix special out of this and everyone will see it.’
“I thought I’ll probably get 12 shows and be asked to leave.”
Gadsby has said her plan to quit had “backfired” because of her sudden fame.
“If I quit, I’m an idiot now. If the show had gone as badly as I’d planned, it would have worked,” she said.
“But now I’m left with a choice: I’ll either be an idiot or a hypocrite. I’ll be a hypocrite.”
Nanette has variously been described as “funny, furious anti-comedy” and “stand-up meets TED Talk meets protest speech meets sermon,” covering Gadsby’s experiences as a queer woman, homophobia, trauma, sexual violence, mental illness and more.
The show previously won Gadsby multiple awards including Best Show at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the Melbourne International Comedy Festival and the Adelaide Fringe; as well as winning her Best Comedy Performer at the Helpmann Awards.
But when a Sydney recording of Nanette was made available to stream on Netflix, it attracted praise from around the world.
A critic from The Atlantic said the show “melds stand-up and storytelling in a way that makes Nanette one of the most extraordinary comedy specials in recent memory,” while The New Yorker wrote the show “transforms into a commentary on comedy itself – on what it conceals, and on how it can force the marginalized to partake in their own humiliation.”
Gadsby explains in the special, “I’ve built a career out of self-deprecating humour … and I don’t want to do that anymore.
“Do you know what self-deprecation means coming from somebody who exists on the margins?
“It’s not humility. It’s humiliation. I put myself down in order to speak. In order to seek permission to speak.
“And I simply will not do that anymore. Not to myself or anyone who identifies as me.
“And if that means that my comedy career is over, then so be it.”