An Interview With Hannah Gadsby

| March 1, 2012

Words by Ash Kissane

Hannah Gadsby is about to bring her new live comedy show, Hannah Wants A Wife – ‘a show about women as wives’ to Brisbane.
MM had a chat to Hannah before her return to the Powerhouse in March.

MM: So tell me about Hannah Wants A Wife?
HG: It’s funny. It’s not an active search for a wife by the way, I’m not chasing the audience out, I just like the idea of having a wife. It’s a little bit about the ideas behind gay marriage.

MM: What do you think the benefits would be of having a wife?
HG: Oh, you know, someone to clean up after me. I think having a wife and not a girlfriend gives you more respect.

MM: For the unacquainted, what is a Hannah Gadsby show like?
HG: Fast paced drama. A lot of slapstick.

MM: Who are some comedians you looked up to starting out?
HG: I’ve always loved Judith Lucy; Denise Scott; and I love Maria Banford; Margaret Chow…they all stand their ground on stage and tell it how they think it is. It’s good.

MM: Where does your inspiration come from when you’re writing for a show?
HG: Anything funny, anything at all. It’s a desperate search. Beggars can’t be choosers. You just find whatever is funny and hang on to it.

MM: Do you think you always wanted to go into comedy?
HG: Nah, I was about twenty-seven or twenty-eight when I got into it. I was just hanging about, working on farms. I was working as a cinema projectionist at that point actually. I had no grand plans.

MM: How do you think female comedians fare compared to male counterparts? Do you think it’s harder for women to be successful?
HG: You know, comedy’s just tough. In the scheme of things, the comedy industry is great for women. There are a lot of industries that are a lot tougher for women. I think the UK is a lot more sexist than Australia, I’ve found. Generally, I think you’ve just got to be funny, you know.

MM: When you were touring in places like Edinburgh, did you find that was quite different than gigging in Australia?
HG: Comedy’s a bit of a blood sport over there. The audiences don’t always want to sit back and laugh, they want to be involved and not always in a pleasant way.

MM: Have you had any particularly bad hecklers?
HG: Nothing that really stands out, but it’s generally a more hostile environment. Then again, some of them are absolutely gorgeous.

MM: What do you think is the best gig you’ve had so far?
HG: There was a small one I did in Manchester last year, and I’d been having a bit of a rough trot, some really tough gigs. I did this lovely little room in Manchester, it was a small one, and it was just fun. All of a sudden after these tough gigs, I did OK in the tough gigs because I’m tough. It was just this lovely little gig in a church of all places, not an active church, and the crowd were just lovely. I think it was my favourite gig of late because I’d had so many tough gigs and they were like, ‘tell more jokes’, instead of, ‘get off.’ It was lovely.

MM: Are there any newcomers that you enjoy?
HG: Oh gosh, there’s heaps. I don’t really have my finger on the pulse, but there’s a young guy from Tasmania, Luke McGreggor, very funny guy. Ronnie Cheng is great. There’s always exciting things happening.

MM: Where do you think you got your break? When did you feel like things became a bit easier for you?
HG: It’s still not easy. I’m going through a bit of a dry patch, I will not deny. I think the Melbourne Comedy Festival has a great program that just nurtures new talent. I won Raw Comedy so that was kind of my first big break and the support didn’t drop off from there, I had comedy Comedy Zone and festivals that have all been quite supportive. There’s something to be said for that, I’m not sure how keen I would have been if I was just cutting my teeth in pubs. I think it was the festival circuit that’s been quite supportive, so I’d say it’s been a constant nurturing more than a big break. But in the industry there have been a lot of people who have been very kind, so I’m very grateful.

MM: What sort of things do you find funny?
HG: It’s the way people talk about something more than topics or anything, someone’s twist. If you switch off to something because you think it won’t be funny you’ll probably miss out on something.

MM: Do you have any advice for someone looking to go into comedy?
HG: Have fun. Sometimes I forgot about that, it can be really nerve-wracking. So just keep it in the back of your mind that in the scheme of things, it doesn’t really matter.

MM: What do you hope audiences will take away from your show?
HG: I hope for people to not be so adamant about their opinions, to be a bit more flexible.

Hannah Gadsby’s Hannah Wants A Wife is at the Powerhouse Tues 13 – Sun 18 March.

 

 

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