Hannah Gadsby

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Hannah Gadsby (born 12 January 1978) is an award-winning Australian stand-up comedian from Smithton, Tasmania whose subjects include small town life, dysfunctional parents, same-sex sexuality, and autism.


  • Tasmania is famous for its shape, which is the same shape as the pubic hair region on a woman's body, which I personally don't identify with. Mine's more like a map of the former Soviet Union. Not to scale.
  • ...You shouldn't clap, that [was] a lie... I like to tell lies. According to Shakira, hips don't lie. Which makes me a bundle of contradictions.

Interview (2023)

  • I don’t want to circle the drain of trauma. I don’t want to be a one note comic. I want to have freedom of expression, and in order to do that, I need to train my audiences to not expect stuff from me.
  • I think there’s something also quite political about a genderqueer performer expressing joy on stage.
  • I do think conversations are at a point where we’re not listening to people with lived experience anymore. We’re listening to people who have really hostile reactive views, and that it’s caught up in a moral panic, which also has a very, very strong right-wing online presence that is stirring up the debate, and it’s fairly unacknowledged. I want to come from a more constructive point of view, like I am genderqueer. I have a life, and it doesn’t revolve around trying to justify my existence.
  • everyone around the world has a humor
  • if you want to change the conversation, you really do have to step into the murky waters, don’t you?

Ten Steps to Nanette (2022)



  • Ever since I can remember, my thoughts have been plagued by a sense that I was a little out of whack, as if belonging was beyond me.
  • As a coping mechanism for teenage me, masking was an incredibly successful tactic – I was only bullied intermittently during my school years – but as a catalyst for growth, it worked more like castration.
  • I wish more than anything that I had known about my ASD when I was a kid, just so I could have learned how to look after my own distress, instead of assuming my pain was normal and deserved. There is no one to blame, but I still grieve for the quality of life I lost because I didn’t have this key piece to my human puzzle.
  • I am unable to intuitively understand what I am feeling, and I can often take a much longer time to process the effects of external circumstances than neurotypical thinkers. But it is they who get impatient with me, and under that pressure I feel forced to guess my needs before I have had time to process stuff in my own way, and so mistakes are made...You know how sometimes you put your hand under running water and for a brief moment you don’t know if it is hot or cold? That is every minute of my life.
  • I only wear blue clothes because blue makes me feel calm. I listen to the same music, watch the same shows, and eat the same foods over and over again without any qualms. I find joy in my life where once I couldn’t because I was too busy trying to do the “right” thing instead of checking in with my own needs first.
  • Please stop expecting people with autism to be exceptional. It is a basic human right to have average abilities.
  • I am never not cross-referencing the trees with the forests, and it can be a very exhausting way to engage – but I wouldn’t change it for the world, because I believe communities need thinkers like me.
  • There is nothing stronger than a broken woman who has rebuilt herself.

Interview (2020)

  • I built my career on writing jokes apologizing for myself. It’s what most people do. You have to explain who you are, and you point to a difference that you have. That’s your angle. But when it becomes the only reason you speak, it becomes an issue; all your material revolves around why you’re different. The great freedom post-“Nanette” was that I’d put all that on the table.
  • I couldn’t have written ‘‘Nanette’’ without understanding that I had autism. I don’t read the world the way other people read it.
  • I think a helpful way for everybody to think about it is that I’m not on the spectrum: Everybody is on a spectrum. The human brain is on a spectrum, just as gender is.
  • There’s a lot about me that people are like, ‘‘Ah, look, lesbian,’’ and really it’s about me not wanting to think about my physical self so I can just get on with things.
  • Autism is not a prison. It’s not something that should be terrifying. It is not a disability except that the world makes it incredibly difficult for us to function — and no one is asking what people with autism think.
  • (You spend time in the new special responding to your online trolls. Why not just ignore them? Isn’t devoting time to them a way of giving them power?) These people are actually humans. They live and they say things and they mean it, and I can’t believe that in all aspects of their life they’re that crazy. I don’t want to live in a vacuum where I’m like, There are those people with dumb ideas. I want them to know their ideas are dumb but they’re not dumb.
  • People think that if you get up onstage, a joke is funny or it’s not. No. The audience is participating in this conversation. The audience brings their own baggage. So I would never say you cannot do rape jokes. I’m just saying can we please acknowledge that women get raped? Men also. People get raped, and it’s traumatizing, and we do not have a language or a narrative in which to place that wider trauma. So just having throw-away punch lines, sure, you can do it, but people get triggered, and the reason people get triggered is because other people don’t care. They’re like, “We think it’s funny; get over yourself.” That’s because there’s no broader cultural context for the viewpoint of people who’ve been traumatized. I don’t believe in censorship, but I don’t think it’s a bad thing to say, “Hey, be better.”
  • A Netflix deal is fantastic, but it hasn’t changed my life, because I keep my life small.

Quotes about Hannah Gadsby

  • In recent years, the public has slowly become familiar with the idea that women with Autism exist, and a few excellent books like Jenara Nerenberg's Divergent Mind and Rudy Simone's Aspergirls have worked to build awareness of this population. It's also helped that high-profile Autistic women like comedian Hannah Gadsby and writer Nicole Cliffe have come out publicly as Autistic.
    • Devon Price Unmasking Autism: Discovering the New Faces of Neurodiversity (2022)
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