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Hannah Gadsby Says She Wasn’t Surprised By ‘Sexist’ Responses to ‘Nanette’

When comedian Hannah Gadsby released her acclaimed Netflix special “Nanette,” some criticized her for deviating from the traditional standup format. It didn’t come as a shock, she says, that male comedians have garnered praise for taking the same kinds of risks.

“It’s sexist, absolutely,” the Australian comedian said Monday during Netflix’s FYSEE event in Los Angeles. “It’s a given. I was expecting that when I wrote it. It’s not my first rodeo.”

Even so, the feedback for “Natette” has been overwhelmingly positive. Critics hailed the one-hour show, praising how Gadsby handled sensitive subjects like homophobia and misogyny, along with her no-holds-barred examination of how men have oppressed women and abused their power throughout history.

But after her special aired, she was questioned with why her show didn’t fit within the confines of a standard standup routine.

“That’s so boring to me. You saw that and that’s the first thing you want to talk about? What is wrong with you?” Gatsby said. “It’s not comedy, it’s clear. Now can we move on? … I do find it quite fascinating that people were alarmed.”

Gadsby also addressed the promise she made in her special that she would “quit comedy.” In her signature wry humor, the comedian admitted she’s not planning on stopping anytime soon. In fact, she’s recently begun touring for her 11th special, “Douglas,” which will be released on Netflix in 2020.

“I quit in the same way that Louis C.K. said ‘Sorry,'” Gadsby quipped, drawing cheers from the audience.

Another topic Gadsby touched on during the conversation was her autism diagnosis. She said she was already aware of the diagnosis when she began writing the special, but she consciously avoided mentioning it during “Nanette.”

“‘Nanette’ is very much about how I think and about autism, but I made a conscious decision not to use that word because I didn’t want people to watch that show through the prism of what anyone thinks they already know about autism,” Gadsby said. “Which is quite often not positive. It’s sort of like, ‘Oh, you’re limited.’ So I now talk openly about it because it’s like, ‘Yeah it’s alright.’ But also I think people don’t know a lot about it, particularly, women’s experience on the spectrum.”

Gadsby reflected on the past year, saying she is still trying to process the reach that “Nanette” was able to have across the globe.

“I’m getting responses from India and Europe and all these places,” Gadsby told Variety. “And to think that my little story that’s so idiosyncratic can find resonance in places that I honestly would have thought that I would be an alien. … When people come up to me, I’m reminded of what it is I put out into the world, and I’m touched that it has resonance with so many different people.”

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