Ten Steps to Nanette: Hannah Gadsby Memoir Review


Iit took Hannah Gadsby the better part of four years to process the international success of her Netflix special Nanette, but it took her 40 more to process everything that caused her to. In his new book, Ten Steps to Nanette: A Memory SituationGadsby writes that she never wanted to become a comedian in the first place, let alone a household name for threatening to quit acting, like she did in her 2018 TV special.

What Gadsby writes about the special in 2022 is testament to Nanettethe cultural influence of , and the conversations and debates it sparked about comedy. With Nanette, Gadsby raised the idea that modern comedy seems to require a repression of the kinds of identities that Gadsby herself embodies. After years of performing self-deprecating routines on stage, a “catch ’em before they can get you” approach, Gadsby said in Nanette that she was done with that kind of humor. In the book, she tackles the subject with a few well-aimed jabs at those looking to keep women like her from taking up space. “I wanted to deflate the egos of mythologized performers and couldn’t think of any better way than stand-up comedy to do it,” she wrote. “Given that it’s also an industry full of immature boys fighting in a vacuum to be the best at something that fewer and fewer people actually care about.”

But largely, Gadsby reveals, Nanette was born from the desire to move away from traditional comedy. The plan, she wrote, was to “redirect the comedy into something that could allow me to express the warmth of my anger and the pain of my trauma, but without transferring it.” In this, Gadsby recognizes, without regrets, that she knew she would get rid of “the most toxic” of her peers.

Hannah Gadsby attends the Australian Premiere of Hamilton at the Lyric Theater in Star City on March 27, 2021

Don Arnold/WireImage

Structured as a step-by-step process for creating Nanettethe book is filled with numerous footnotes that offer details of Gadsby’s life that were only hinted at on the show. Ten steps to Nanette addresses weighted issues of historical gender-based violence, misogyny, sexual abuse, homophobia, ableism and grossophobia, all of which Gadsby experienced first-hand “I’m triggering all the warnings,” she writes.

Readers will learn how Gadsby’s self-esteem and worldview were shaped by his mother’s outspoken candor and frequent judgment. The book confirms that the piece of Nanette where Gadsby said her mother comparing her coming out as a lesbian to her coming out as a murderer was based on reality. It also allows Gadsby to expand the story and share how his own sense of humor was directly influenced by his mother’s strength and outspokenness.

A large thread throughout the book details the political struggle for equal marriage in his home of Australia, particularly the southern island of Tasmania, where homosexuality was illegal until 1997. Another details his struggles against depression, anxiety and atypical thinking she didn’t. knowing was part of his autism. All heavy subject matter, but just like the show on stage, Gadsby finds a measured way to offer a respectful and insightful reflection on the terrible things she and others have endured while pointing out the idiosyncrasies and flaws in logic that she and others have endured. ‘she can transform into wise. Her life stories parallel what was happening around her politically, even when she was too young to be aware of the legalized homophobia that colors her experiences of feeling like an outsider. Gadsby writes that it ultimately had an impact not only on what happened Nanettebut her gay life in Australia.

Gadsby’s talent lies in asking viewers (or readers) to take things from her perspective as an autistic, gender-nonconforming Australian lesbian without completely belittling herself, at least not without reason. She defined those differences as “humility versus humiliation” in the Netflix special, and ten steps elaborate on this question. (Nanetteshe writes, “is basically Eat Pray Love for queer women with autism. “)

The challenges of the world Gadsby grew up in and the difficulties of being a public figure have now given him an outsider and insider perspective that makes ten steps pleasant. The book is full of survival tactics Gadsby has learned from the attacks he’s heeded so far, especially rebuilding and reframing the patriarchal worldview into which she was born and oppressed. “I thought it might be helpful to reframe resilience as a position of active power instead of a passive state of just coping,” she writes, saying she prefers to sit “very still and just thinking about things,” because only after acknowledging the truth of the trauma can you put it into words. “And when there are no words, there is no sharing,” says Gadsby. “And when there’s no sharing, you can’t find your way back to safety.”

For Gadsby fans, his performance on the page will delight as well as on screen. She stays honest, with stories that make situations always grounded in truth laugh, hard or not. In her memoirs, she shares charts and notes from all parts of the Nanette process, spending more time pondering how she brought them all together to create a show that no one could stop talking about rather than those who had nothing nice to say.

At over 400 pages, ten steps reveals more about Gadsby than the typical comedian memoir, though she’s not ready to share all of her tips. Still, with the book, Gadsby establishes that she’s not going anywhere anytime soon. “I’ll keep the best secrets to myself because I’m not done quitting acting yet,” she wrote.

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