Advertisement

Comedian Jadwiga Green pays tribute to Hannah Gadsby’s Netflix comedy specials that inspired introverted queer and autistic artists everywhere.

I had just started performing stand-up when Hannah Gadsby’s Nanette dropped. The women and trans comedians that I performed with could not help but talk about this backstage. It was as if change was reaching a boiling point for us. I’d long been a fan of stand-up but had only just ventured solo on stage as a comedian. Up until then, theatre had been my art and comedy felt like a much more vulnerable art form. The artistic magic is not generated between actors, it is a monologue where the action is between the performer and the audience. People come to a comedy show expecting to laugh, sure, but also to hear comedians speak to ‘truth.’ I hate when people say, “Comedians are the new philosophers”. First off, do these people know philosophers still exist? Don’t put the philosophers out of work (if they have any)! Second, comedians aren’t philosophers; we’re comedians, and our role is different. We’re entertainers first, and if we happen to stumble upon truths, it is secondary.

It wasn’t until Hannah Gadsby: Douglas came out in 2020 that comedy really started clicking for me. Gadsby’s frank and hilarious musings on autistic life spoke to me. I could laugh with her about the ridiculousness of navigating a neurotypical world as someone who sees things differently. This was entertainment I could really click with. I’m a big autistic hobgoblin, and navigating the worlds of being LGBTQ+ and a comedian, worlds that rely heavily on nightlife, is difficult for someone who habitually calls it a day after dinner time. But these worlds are essential to my well-being. Without comedy and art, I am without passion, and without the rainbow of diversity, I feel empty. Suddenly there’s Gadsby saying she can’t handle the sensory overload of a pride parade and feels more at home with the sensory satisfaction of a teacup clinking on its saucer. Heaven at last!

Advertisement
Hannah Gadsby. Supplied by Netflix.

There’s no easy solution. Very few people want to watch comedy shows at lunchtime away from substances (save for a cup of tea), and not enough people want to celebrate their diversity in the form of a scenic walk with their mates and some dogs. But I am grateful for people like Gadsby boldly challenging these norms in a thoroughly enjoyable way. I love the backstage greenroom chats and socialising with comedians in that dreamlike creative space as much, if not more than, I love performing. And slowly, in my young career, I am meeting more people who feel similarly to me about comedy and art, especially other rainbow people. As for LGBTQ+ socialising, art is where I have found the best friends and social life as well. Autism and being LGBTQ+ intersect so much! As someone who struggles to understand arbitrary rules and constraints as is, it makes sense that I found freedom and authenticity in a queer way of life. And art is the perfect way to find spaces where you can lift the burden of the straight and neurotypical world even if just a little bit. I’m learning how to create art I love with people I love, that affirm who I am, and I hope that others can find the joy that this has given me.

Jadwiga Green performs alongside Audrey Porne in Just Kidding! Unless…? 16 – 20 May at BATS Theatre, Wellington, and 23 – 27 May at Basement Theatre, Auckland, as part of the NZ International Comedy Festival.

Advertisement