Hannah Gadsby BA ‘03

29 Mar 2019

Women didn’t have time to think thoughts; they were too busy taking naps naked in the forest.

2019 Alumna of the Year

Hannah has been awarded the 2019 ANU Alumna of the Year Award for the impact of her work on the public discourse around respect and inclusion.

Hannah Gadsby is a Tasmanian-born, internationally-renowned comedian who studied art history and curatorship at ANU. She is a master of communicating big ideas through her personal narrative and has had a prolific presence across Australian TV, both as a comedian and art scholar. She became an international sensation following her original stand-up show Nanette.

Nanette was prompted by Australia's virulent debate on same-sex marriage, and was created shortly after Hannah received a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

The show explores homophobia, sexual violence and the harmful effects of Hannah's own well-honed comedic technique. In stark personal terms, Nanette reveals Hannah's gender and sexual trauma, and doesn't invite people to laugh at it.

Hannah's show was picked up by Netflix and became an international sensation for the #MeToo era. The show has the potential to influence a whole generation of young viewers, especially in countries with low tolerance of LGBTIQ+ communities. Critics have called her performance ground-breaking and praised the show's call to make more space for people who are different and voiceless.

Hannah has long plumbed her ANU Art History degree for comedic material. She has said that, as a member of the LGBTIQ+ community, Art history taught her that she has no place in history.

"Women didn't have time to think thoughts; they were too busy taking naps naked in the forest."

In 2015, she collaborated with BBC Radio 4 on a series based on her hugely successful comedy art show where she focused on masterpieces from a particular era through the lens of insight that comes from being a gay stand-up comic who happens to be a trained art historian.

Hannah recently announced her latest stand-up tour, Douglas, which is named after her dog. She has said that "while Nanette was a random barista, Douglas is a very specific dog" and she believes he is the only one who can help her follow up on the trail blazed by Nanette.

Since graduating, Hannah has returned to campus to participate in ANU Pride Weeks and looks forward to maintaining her involvement with ANU in the future.


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