Hannah Gadsby

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Hannah Gadsby
Hannah Gadsby and Jason Wing - Jam Project - crop.jpg
Gadsby in 2013
Born1978 (age 43–44)
Smithton, Tasmania, Australia
  • Stand-up
  • television
  • theatre
Alma materAustralian National University
Years active2006–present
Jenney Shamash
(m. 2021)

Hannah Gadsby (born 1978) is an Australian comedian, writer, and actress. She began her career in Australia after winning the national final of the Raw Comedy competition for new comedians in 2006. In 2018, her show Nanette on Netflix won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Variety Special and a Peabody Award.

Starting in 2019, she toured internationally with her show Douglas and the recorded special was released on Netflix in 2020. In 2021, she was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Tasmania.[1] In March 2022, she published Ten Steps to Nanette: A Memoir Situation.

Early life[edit]

"My meltdowns had always been a mystery to me, so when I was finally diagnosed, I was able to reframe the way I thought about my strange little outbursts. For a start, I became far more compassionate toward myself, which probably halved the distress of the occasions."

Hannah Gadsby, "Hannah Gadsby on her autism diagnosis: 'I've always been plagued by a sense that I was a little out of whack'". The Guardian, 19 March 2022[2]

Hannah Gadsby was born in Smithton, a small town on the remote north-west coast of Tasmania.[3] She was the youngest of five children.[4][5] She attended Smithton High School from 1990 to 1995. In year 12, she attended Launceston College, where she had a nervous breakdown.[6] She began third level studies at the University of Tasmania in Hobart but later transferred to the Australian National University,[6] where she earned a bachelor's degree in art history and curatorship in 2003.[7]

After her education, Gadsby worked in bookshops in Canberra and became a projectionist at an outdoor cinema in Darwin. She then spent two years picking vegetables and planting trees along the east coast of Australia. She became homeless, which she later attributed in part to her ADHD, and ill enough with acute pancreatitis to require hospitalisation.[6]


Stand-up comedy[edit]

On a visit to her sister in Adelaide in 2006, Gadsby entered Raw Comedy in 2006, progressing through the heats to win the national prize.[6] As the winner, she was sent to the So You Think You're Funny? competition at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, where she won second prize.[8] Her first solo show was titled Hannah Gadsby is Wrong and Broken, and won the 2007 Best Newcomer Award at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival before she went on tour with the show in Edinburgh and New York.[9] In 2008, she performed Meat the Musical with Amelia Jane Hunter at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival.[10] She continued to perform at festivals, including the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Kilkenny Comedy Festival, Montreal Just for Laughs Festival, Edinburgh Fringe Festival[9] and New Zealand International Comedy Festival.[11]


Gadsby created the stand-up show she named Nanette partly as a response to the public debate which took place in Australia before the law was changed to allow same-sex marriage, and also after her diagnosis of ADHD and autism.[12] Nanette explores topics such as homophobia, xenophobia, sexism, and gendered violence.[13] Elahe Izadi of The Washington Post states although Nanette is a comedy, Gadsby insists the audience recognize the dark truth of trauma and assault.[14] During the show, Gadsby says she is quitting comedy.[15] In a review for Time Out of her next show Douglas, Ben Neutze writes that in Nanette, "Gadsby's main objective was to deliver a fiery and furious takedown of the heterosexual patriarchy."[16] According to Mary Luckhurst, writing in Persona Studies, "During Nanette, Gadsby ritually murdered her old persona and assumed a new high-status role that radically altered her relationship to the audience."[17] After winning the Melbourne International Comedy Festival Barry award, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Comedy Award, and Helpmann Award for Best Comedy Performer, Netflix released the film version of Nanette in 2018.[18][19][16] On Rotten Tomatoes, Nanette received an approval rating of 100% based on reviews from 49 critics.[20][16]


In March 2019, Gadsby previewed her new show, Douglas, in Adelaide,[21] before touring the U.S. and Australia, where many shows were sold out in advance.[22] In the show, she explores new personal revelations "with empathy, wit and some extremely relatable metaphor", and creates something "bigger than comedy" according to one reviewer of the preview show.[23] In Douglas, she discusses her autism diagnosis, aiming to help people understand neurodiversity as part of a normal variation of the human condition.[24][25] In a review of the show for Time Out, Anne-Marie Peard writes, "Douglas will create change and help people, especially undiagnosed women, to see that they may not have the right words to describe how they experience life; it’s describing that experience to those who still say or think the words that belittle and damage."[24] In 2020, Netflix released a filmed version of the live show.[26]

Body of Work[edit]

In July 2021, Gadsby started with her solo show Body of Work in several venues in Australia, New Zealand, Europe and the UK.[27] Dates were also announced in the United States.[28] In a review for The Guardian, Brian Logan writes, "Its predecessors, the smash hits Nanette and Douglas, shot the Tasmanian to stardom – but weren’t all smiles. Her latest, recounting romance and recent marriage to her producer Jenney Shamash, arrives with a lighter, looser vibe."[29]

TV roles[edit]

Gadsby co-wrote and co-starred in the Australian ABC TV show Adam Hills Tonight through three seasons from February 2011 to July 2013. She had regular segments called "On This Day" and "Hannah Has A Go" and also featured on the couch, contributing as host Adam Hills interviewed his guests.[30][31] She co-wrote (with Matthew Bate) and presented a three-part series on ABC, Hannah Gadsby's Oz, which aired in March 2014.[32] Produced by Closer Productions, this series set out to "debunk the myths of the Australian identity perpetuated by [its] national art".[33] From 2013 to 2016, she co-wrote 20 episodes of the television series Please Like Me with fellow comedian Josh Thomas. In it, she played Hannah, a fictional version of herself.[34]

Guest appearances[edit]

Gadsby's Australian and international television appearances include Rove Live (2009), Good News Week (2009),[35] Spicks and Specks (2010),[30] Agony Aunts (2012), QI (2018), The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon (2018, 2020), and TV3's game show, 7 Days.[36] She was a presenter at the 70th Primetime Emmy Awards in 2018, presenting the award for Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series. Gadsby was also a guest on Conan O'Brien's podcast Conan O'Brien Needs a Friend in 2019.[37]

Art-related tours and shows[edit]

Between 2009 and 2013, Gadsby presented comedy art tours in conjunction with the National Gallery of Victoria, with themes such as paintings of the Holy Virgin, Dadaism, Modernism, Impressionism and the nude in art. She has given talks on art and opened exhibitions.[38] Gadsby has written and presented two documentary specials for the Artscape program on ABC TV: Hannah Gadsby Goes Domestic (2010)[39] and The NGV Story (2011).[40] In 2015, she wrote and performed Hannah Gadsby: Arts Clown, a series for BBC Radio 4 based on her comedy art shows.[41]

Ten Steps to Nanette: A Memoir Situation[edit]

In March 2022 Gadsby published Ten Steps to Nanette: A Memoir Situation. The book was a New York Times bestseller.[42] A review in Time by Trish Bendix states the book "addresses the weighted issues of historical gender-based violence, misogyny, sexual abuse, homophobia, ableism and fatphobia, all of which Gadsby has directly experienced", and that Gadsby writes, "I am triggering all the warnings."[43] Kirkus Reviews writes, "Consistently self-effacing and contemplative, Gadsby acknowledges that her unique brand of deadpan observational comedy isn't for everyone, especially since it often skewers "the two most overly sensitive demographics the world has ever known: straight white cis men and self-righteous comedians.""[44] Thomas Floyd writes in a review for The Washington Post, "In Ten Steps, she is understandably vague but remarkably vulnerable, writing: "I want the world to stop demanding gratuitous details in exchange for empathy. Entertainment in exchange for understanding.""[45] Publishers Weekly writes, "Gadsby resists centering her abusers, instead offering a candid, often bawdy account of her nonlinear path toward healing—shaped by a gauntlet of therapists, a career in "mak[ing] a joke out of" her mental health, and her loving yet complex relationship with her family."[46] Dana Dunham writes for the Chicago Review of Books that Gadsby "describes Nanette's inception, its iterations, and its careful layering, representing her thinking in actual images of her early notes and through artistic metaphor: the shapes of ideas, the palette of thoughts. Any artist, any creator should value the chance to examine the composition of this revolutionary work, and the context from which it came."[47]





Year Title Role Notes
2009–2010 The Librarians Carmel 2 episodes
2011 Warehouse Comedy Festival Self Episode: "Hannah Gadsby: Kiss Me Quick, I'm Full of Jubes"
2012 The Agony of... Self 6-part series Agony Aunts
2012–2013 Adam Hills Tonight Self Co-writer and presenter in 22 episodes
2013 Warehouse Comedy Festival Self Episode: "Hannah Gadsby: Mrs Chuckles"
2013 Underbelly Charlie 3 episodes
2014 Hannah Gadsby's Oz Host Documentary mini-series
Also writer
2014–2016 Please Like Me Hannah Also co-writer[34]
2015 Hannah Gadsby: Renaissance Woman Host Also writer and producer[66]
2018 Hannah Gadsby's Nakedy Nudes Host Documentary mini-series
Also writer


Year Title Role Notes
2018 Hannah Gadsby: Nanette Self Comedy special
2020 Hannah Gadsby: Douglas Self Comedy special
2022 (anticipated) Hitpig[67][68] TBA Animated film


  • Gadsby, Hannah (2022). Ten Steps to Nanette. Sydney: Allen & Unwin. ISBN 978-1-742-37403-1. OCLC 1014018703.

Personal life[edit]

Gadsby is openly lesbian and often includes LGBTQ-related themes in her stand-up routines.[4][69]

Gadsby was diagnosed with ADHD and autism in 2017.[70][71]

In January 2021, Gadsby married producer Jenney Shamash.[72][73]

Gadsby is an active supporter of various charities. Organisations she has assisted include Big Brothers Big Sisters of Melbourne, Edmund Rice Camps of Victoria, and the Sacred Heart Mission.[74][75]


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