This is why everyone is talking about Hannah Gadsby's Nanette 🎤
We all suffer for our art, right?
NETFLIX - NANETTE
Growing up, none of us got given a map that explained how to deal with trauma.
Growing up as a lesbian, you often find that making fun of yourself would ease the tension for anyone that is listening. We leave out the part of anger, abuse, disappointment or the constant fear of being stuck in the margins. We are told to just make it as light-hearted as our creativity enables. We all suffer for our art, right?
Australian comedian Hannah Gadsby has made a career of self-deprecating her life, all for comedy. That was until recently when she decided that her suffering shouldn’t be the punchline of a joke. In her Netflix comedy special Nanette, I witnessed Gadsby having what felt an extreme personal triumph.
"What self-deprecation means when it comes from someone who exists and had always done, in the margins? It isn’t humility. It's humiliation.”
As a writer and a lesbian, I have always used humour to stay away from the unpleasant and uncomfortable parts of my life. Years ago, when my girlfriend was spat on by a man in the streets. I made it into a punchline about why lesbians shouldn’t visit Notting Hill from East London.
I always thought it was a truly brilliant coping mechanism. If I can make a joke about being gay or a woman before someone else does, then I win, and no one feels uncomfortable. Except for me, because self-deprecation isn't great isn’t it?
It chips away at your identity with every little joke until you are unsure of who the hell you are trying to be. I realised that all I was doing was holding a stranger’s hand every time I made a joke about myself. Which is funny, because I hate human contact, but here I am making sure everyone else is comfortable when I’m not.
You see, Gadsby isn’t blaming lesbians for using the stage to shed their trauma in what we always thought was a productive manner. She isn’t blaming the audience for laughing at the jokes she told throughout her stand-up career. But now she wants the audience to know that it’s their turn to finally hold the tension, hold the truth that she trapped so long ago.
Seeing Gadsby, a butch older gay woman, telling straight men in her audience that they can no longer use marginalised people to be the butt of all their jokes. I was ecstatic, if you could have seen me texting everyone I know that finally a gay woman was telling men that the shit they do isn’t good enough anymore.
She tells them, men like Trump, Weinstein, and Louis CK, that they are the people who will not do better. Gadsby repeats to every single straight man in her audience that they simply must start doing better.
When you feel marginalized, you may attempt to be invisible. Gadsby likes being invisible, but she knows her story needs to be heard loudly.
You can find Nanette on Netflix, a must watch.
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