Hannah Gadsby: Nanette

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Hannah Gadsby: Nanette
Directed byMadeleine Parry
John Olb
Written byHannah Gadsby
StarringHannah Gadsby
Distributed byNetflix
Release date
Running time
69 minutes

Hannah Gadsby: Nanette is a live comedy performance written and performed by Australian comedian Hannah Gadsby, which debuted in 2017. The work includes social commentary (especially about LGBTQ and women's perspectives and neurodivergence), evocative[citation needed] speech punctuated by comedy and emotive narration of Gadsby's life, lessons and what their story offers to the world. In June 2018, Netflix released a video of Gadsby's performance of the work at the Sydney Opera House, directed by Madeleine Parry and John Olb.[1] The special was well received by critics, winning a Peabody Award as well as Outstanding Writing for a Variety Special at the 2019 Primetime Emmy Awards.


Gadsby created the stand-up show 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 soon after their diagnosis of ADHD and autism.[2]

The show was originally named after a woman Gadsby had met,[2] who they thought could be turned into an hour's worth of material. During the writing process, they realized this wasn't the case, but the name had already been chosen. They ended up ignoring this inconsistency and wrote an hour of material unrelated to Nanette.[3] The initial shows were more combative with the audience, and made Gadsby feel victimised, so to get the audience more on their side, they added more jokes and relieved more tension throughout the show's run.[4]


Gadsby uses Nanette to deconstruct the nature of comedy and its conventions by having the audience undergo the same tension in which marginalised people suffer on a daily basis. They share personal anecdotes related to their experiences as a lesbian and gender-nonconforming woman, explaining how their comedic style is influenced by their identity. Due to Gadsby's upbringing in conservative Tasmania, they were raised surrounded by people who believed they had licence to hate others, which induced them at a young age to accept prejudiced views towards LGBTQ people. To deal with the social inequality they faced, Gadsby says that they turned to self-deprecating humour. They realised the self-deprecating humour common to standup comedy is doubly painful for marginalised people because it adds another voice to the chorus of people who already insult and belittle them. This led them to conclude that they can no longer do standup comedy and so they structured the piece around claiming that they are giving up comedy.[4][5]

In addition to the stories shared about their lesbian and gender-nonconforming experiences, Gadsby relates personal stories about their comedy career, family, and university experiences among other things. Gadsby expresses the need to use stories in their comedy because they are frustrated with the form of standup comedy. They do not feel as if their story, because their identity and victimisation do not fit comfortably into society's narrative, is being listened to properly. The representation of their story through Nanette affords Gadsby hope that their experiences will be "felt and understood by individuals with minds of their own," and that their story will finally be heard.

Gadsby discusses the mental health of Vincent van Gogh. Later, they talk about Pablo Picasso's contributions to Cubism and how they regard him as a misogynist artist.


Gadsby has performed Nanette throughout Australia, at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, and in the United States. Their 2018 performances in New York City received positive reviews.[6][7] The show was performed for the final time on 27 July 2018, in Montreal. On 20 June 2018, Netflix released a film of Gadsby's performance of the work at the Sydney Opera House under the title Hannah Gadsby: Nanette.


On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating from critics of 100% based on 49 reviews, with an average rating of 9.2/10. The site's critical consensus reads: "Hannah Gadsby: Nanette brilliantly moves modern comedy into nakedly honest new territory, pivoting from dry humor to raw, powerful storytelling."[8] The performance has been described as a "game changer" for what comedy can achieve and has been called a form of "post comedy."[9]

Daniel Fienberg of The Hollywood Reporter stated "Hannah Gadsby's Nanette stands alone...It's a detailed summation of joke construction that could be a textbook on its own. It's an art history lesson. It's hilarious, because Gadsby's timing and perspective fuel every sentence. It's painful, because Gadsby's emotions and perspective fuel every sentence."[10] Ashley Hoffman in Time listed Nanette as the Best Stand Up Comedy Special of 2018, and added "Nanette kickstarted a global conversation, ensuring that [their] underrepresented perspective was finally seen and heard—and when Gadsby wrenches out [their] pain on stage, [they] reveals [their] strength, rage, and yes, winning humor."[11]

Anna Leszkiewicz in the New Statesman voiced praise for Nanette: "Gadsby's show is a tricksy, self-conscious beast, full of sleight of hand... It is a strange, rare thing: a comedy show that hopes you don't leave laughing."[12] Brian Logan of The Guardian helps to explain the significance and allure of Nanette by reporting Gadsby's "show is about the power of stories and how, if the stories we tell ourselves are simplified or smoothed over, we leave unchallenged the wider stories society tells itself (in this case, about gender, sexuality and power)."[13]

Helen Razer, writing in The Saturday Paper, wrote that Nanette "is very good...It is a worthy and well-paced specimen of a long-established form." However, Razer also added that she believed some American reviewers of Nanette had overpraised the show, saying "We cannot say that Gadsby’s Nanette definitively prescribes a style or ethics of remembering trauma. We can say that it's pretty good."[14]

By contrast, in The Outline magazine, P.E. Moskowitz gave Nanette a negative review, arguing that the special "makes for boring, trite, and even dangerous art: in order to convey [their] trauma, Gadsby dismisses all of comedy, the uses of queer anger, and the entire premise of self-deprecation as inadequate".[15] In The Baffler, Soraya Roberts writes, "In terms of overall quality, Nanette is mediocre," and "While other high profile comedians take a break from standup to give TED Talks, Gadsby's special erodes the separation between the two, down to the oversized, antiseptic set and the comic's persistently neutral affect, physically restrained, with a voice that often sounds like a soothingly patronizing life coach."[16]


The show received widespread acclaim, including a 2018 Peabody Award.[17][18][19][20]

Award Ceremony Date of ceremony Category Result Ref.
Melbourne International Comedy Festival Award 22 April 2017 Barry Award (for comedy) Won [21]
Helpmann Awards 24 July 2017 Best Comedy Performer Won [22]
Edinburgh Comedy Awards July 2017 Best Comedy Show Won [23]
Adelaide Fringe 28 August 2017 Best Comedy Award Won [24][25]
7th AACTA International Awards 5 January 2018 Best Comedy Program Nominated [26]
Best Performance in a Television Comedy Won [27]
Peabody Award 18 May 2019 Peabody 30 Won [17][18]
MTV Movie & TV Awards June 2019 Best Real-Life Hero Nominated [28]
Primetime Emmy Awards September 2019 Outstanding Writing for a Variety Special Won [29]
Outstanding Variety Special (Pre-Recorded) Nominated


  1. ^ Nanette. Netflix. 19 June 2018. Retrieved 23 October 2021.
  2. ^ a b "Hannah Gadsby BA '03". Australian National University. 29 March 2019. Retrieved 14 April 2019.
  3. ^ Hannah Gadsby Got Into Comedy Because of a Broken Wrist. Late Night with Seth Meyers. Note: This video is not available to the public. YouTube. 15 June 2018. Retrieved 21 July 2018.{{cite AV media}}: CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  4. ^ a b Hannah Gadsby Chats About Her Netflix Special, 'Hannah Gadsby: Nanette'. YouTube. 19 June 2018. Retrieved 21 July 2018.
  5. ^ "Hannah Gadsby: If Political Correctness Can Kill Comedy, It's Already Dead". NPR.org. 27 June 2019. it was always a theatrical conceit ... when I was writing the show, I'm like, "People are not going to like this." So a way around that, intellectually, I'm like, "Well, if I quit comedy at the beginning, people can't say that I did it wrong."
  6. ^ Zinoman, Jason (19 March 2018). "Introducing a Major New Voice in Comedy (Who Also Attacks Comedy)". The New York Times. Retrieved 21 July 2018.
  7. ^ Da Costa, Cassie (2 May 2018). "The Funny, Furious Anti-Comedy of Hannah Gadsby". The New Yorker. Condé Nast. Retrieved 21 July 2018.
  8. ^ "Hannah Gadsby: Nanette (2018)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Archived from the original on 14 April 2019. Retrieved 10 October 2021.
  9. ^ Giuffre, Liz (26 November 2020). "From Nanette to Nanettflix – Hannah Gadsby's challenge to existing comedy convention". Comedy Studies. 12 (1): 29–39. doi:10.1080/2040610x.2020.1850102. ISSN 2040-610X. S2CID 229403967.
  10. ^ Fienberg, Daniel."Critic's Notebook: 'Nanette,' 'Set It Up' and Netflix Discovery Syndrome" The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 10 November 2019.
  11. ^ Hoffman, Ashley,The Top 10 Stand Up Comedy Specials of 2018. Ashley Hoffman, Time Magazine. 20 November 2018.
  12. ^ Leszkiewicz, Anna, "Hannah Gadsby's Nanette" New Statesman. 19 July 2018. Retrieved 10 November 2019.
  13. ^ Logan, Brian (16 August 2017). "Standups on why they quit comedy: I have nightmares about having to do it again". The Guardian. Retrieved 23 October 2021.
  14. ^ Razer, Helen,"Hannah Gadsby’s ‘Nanette’", The Saturday Paper, 28 July – 3 August 2018. Retrieved 10 November 2019.
  15. ^ Moskowitz, P.E.,The "Nanette" Problem P.E. Moskowitz, The Outline Magazine. 20 August 2018. Retrieved 10 November 2019.
  16. ^ Roberts, Soraya, "Tokens of Appreciation". Soraya Roberts, The Baffler Magazine October 2018. Retrieved 10 November 2019.
  17. ^ a b "The Best Stories of 2018". 24 June 2019. Retrieved 28 February 2020.
  18. ^ a b Ganajan, Mahita (18 June 2018). "How Hannah Gadsby Channeled Her Own Trauma, Bill Cosby and Monica Lewinsky in the New Netflix Comedy Special 'Nanette'". Time. Retrieved 21 July 2018.
  19. ^ Husband, Andrew (18 June 2018). "Hannah Gadsby Wants 'Nanette' To Give You 'A Shock'". Forbes. Retrieved 21 July 2018.
  20. ^ von Busack, Richard (18 July 2018). "Tasmanian Tigress". North Bay Bohemian. Metro Newspapers. p. 22. Retrieved 21 July 2018.
  21. ^ Francis, Hannah (23 April 2017). "Hannah Gadsby wins Barry Award at 2017 Melbourne International Comedy Festival". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 27 July 2018.
  22. ^ Francis, Hannah (25 July 2017). "Helpmann Awards 2017 winners: Kosky's Saul and Belvoir's The Drover's Wife dominate". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 27 July 2018.
  23. ^ Thorpe, Vanessa (26 August 2017). "Edinburgh festival fringe comedy award shared for first time". The Guardian. Retrieved 27 July 2018.
  24. ^ "Edinburgh Fringe Festival: Hannah Gadsby named joint winner of Comedy Award". ABC News. AAP. 27 August 2017. Retrieved 27 July 2018.
  25. ^ "Banksa Overall Fringe Award Winners - Best Comedy". adelaidefringe.com.au. 19 March 2017. Archived from the original on 27 July 2018. Retrieved 27 July 2018.
  26. ^ "Past Awards - 2018 AACTA Awards - Television - AACTA Award for Best Comedy Program". Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (AACTA). Retrieved 24 May 2020.
  27. ^ Sayer, Luke (6 December 2018). "Hannah Gadsby wins major AACTA award for Nanette". The Advocate. Retrieved 13 May 2020.
  28. ^ Nordyke, Kimberly (17 June 2019). "MTV Movie & TV Awards: Avengers: Endgame, Game of Thrones Among Winners". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on 18 June 2019. Retrieved 24 September 2023.
  29. ^ "Hannah Gadsby beats Beyoncé to Emmy for comedy special Nanette". The Guardian. 15 September 2019. Retrieved 12 August 2020.

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