‘Nanette’ Star Hannah Gadsby Is Writing Her Memoir


Hannah Gadsby by Netflix from her special Nanette
Photo: Netflix

Queer comedian Hannah Gadsby is following up the success of her acclaimed Netflix special Nanette with a memoir.

The book will be titled Ten Steps to Nanette, according to Australian publisher Allen & Unwin, and the project is “a memoir that follows the funny and sometimes dark events of the Australian comedian’s life leading up to her realization that she had to quit comedy as she knew it.”

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The publisher said the book will follow in the vein of gay comedian and author David Sedaris and comprise a “string of stories that draws together varied funny and sometimes dark events of her life, compelling readers to understand the damage society can visit upon those (like Hannah) who find themselves on the outside.”

The book, expected for release in 2019, was originally supposed to be released this year, but the comedian said she had to put the project aside “due to the emotional demands of [Nanette], which she describes as a beast.”

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 had won Gadsby multiple awards including Best Show at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the Melbourne International Comedy Festival and the Adelaide Fringe; and also Best Comedy Performer at the Helpmann Awards.

The show was originally meant to be Gadsby’s last show before her retirement from comedy, but when a Sydney recording of Nanette was made available to stream on Netflix, it attracted praise from around the world.

Gadsby explained last month her sudden international fame had meant her original plan to stop performing had backfired.

“I really thought [Nanette] would divide audiences and it just hasn’t,” she told US talk show host Jimmy Fallon.

“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.’

“If I quit, I’m an idiot now. If the show had gone as badly as I’d planned, it would have worked.

“But now I’m left with a choice: I’ll either be an idiot or a hypocrite. I’ll be a hypocrite.””

The comedian 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?

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“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.”