Hannah Gadsby (born 12 January 1978) is an Australian comedian, writer, and actress. She rose to prominence in her native Australia after winning the national final of the Raw Comedy competition for new comedians in 2006. In 2018, the release of Nanette on Netflix exposed her to an international audience. The special received 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.
She began third level studies at the University of Tasmania in Hobart, but moved to the mainland to attend the Australian National University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Art History and Curatorship in 2003.
After this she worked in bookshops in Canberra and became a projectionist at an outdoor cinema in Darwin for a while. She then spent two years picking vegetables and planting trees along the east coast of Australia, before she found herself homeless (which she later attributed partly to her ADHD) and ill enough to require hospitalisation.
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. As the winner, she was sent to the So You Think You’re Funny? competition at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, where she won second prize.
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. In 2018, Netflix released the film version of Nanette, which exposed her to international audiences. On Rotten Tomatoes, Nanette received an approval rating of 100% based on reviews from 49 critics.Nanette explores topics such as homophobia, xenophobia, sexism, and gendered violence. Elahe Izadi of The Washington Post states although Nanette is a comedy, Gadsby insists the audience recognize the dark truth of trauma and assault. During the show, Gadsby publicized that she was quitting comedy because of how exhausting it was to perform.
In March 2019, Gadsby previewed her new show, Douglas, in Adelaide, before touring the U.S. and Australia, where many shows were sold out in advance. 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. Gadsby says that she doesn’t care what people call the show, noting some critics said Nanette was “not comedy but a lecture”. In 2020 Gadsby’s announced live show Douglas was released on Netflix.
In July 2021, Gadsby started with her solo show Body of Work in several venues in Australia, New Zealand, Europe and the UK.