Comedian Mandy Nolan has been running a stand up course in the Byron Shire for almost 22 years.
Comedian Mandy Nolan has been running a stand up course in the Byron Shire for almost 22 years.

Mandy Nolan 'impressed' by comedian's shock decision to quit

COMEDY star Hannah Gadsby famously quit stand up comedy during her last tour, Nanette, and when the show became available on Netflix on June 19, the world took notice.

Gadsby has been one of the most popular and loved Australian comedians for a while, but soon American celebrities such as actor John Favreau, comedian Kathy Griffin, actor Matt Bomer, writer Roxane Gay and even Monika Lewisnky took to social media to sing her praises.

At the core of Nanette is the fact that Gadsby revealed that the punchlines were punches into her own sense of self.

Comedian Mandy Nolan saw Nanette this week and it was a special moment for her - Gadsby attended Nolan's stand up comedy class at the beginning of her career, more than a decade ago.

"She had never done comedy before as far as I understood, and I think she new she had a story to tell, and had a real burning drive to get up and try it."

In a stamenet released to The Northern Star, Gadsby, who is pending time with her family, said the experience prepared her for her career.   "Mandy's course was one my first experiences as a stand-up comedian and it gave me some early confidence to go on and be part of the Melbourne Comedy Festival's Raw Comedy program," she said.  

Nolan said Gadsby went from graduating as a stand up comedian in Byron Bay to winning the national final of RAW Comedy in 2006.

"When you teach you wonder if you will end up with a student who surpasses the master... Hannah was good for my humility because she did it in a year," she said.

"I am most impressed by her risk taking.

"I can't think of any other comedian who has let the 'mask' slip in the way Hannah has and exploded the set up punch format that we hide behind to show who the person really is and what the truth is in her story.

"In doing so she reclaims the power over her story and doesn't let the format define her, but at the same time she's done her opus about not being able to do comedy anymore.

"It's quite extraordinary to see one of the best one-hour comedy shows I've seen and realise that it's her swansong. She won't be doing stand up anymore. It's clear she can't. She's evolved into a performer capable of content that eclipses her peers."

Australian comedian Hannah Gadsby in a scene from her Netflix comedy special Nanette. Supplied by Netflix.
Australian comedian Hannah Gadsby in a scene from her Netflix comedy special Nanette. Supplied by Netflix. BEN KING

Nolan said she hoped Gadsby would continue performing, but she thinks it will be a different format.

"I think it's clear that she'll call the shots," she said.

"That's very impressive. And yes as a practising comedian of 30 years it makes you question the integrity of your art form and wonder 'what truth have I sacrificed along the way?'"

"Every comedian in the country who has seen her show must think the same.

"To really respond to the questions she makes and to take it on in a sense is to become a better and more honest performing.

"I was impressed, inspired and confronted."

After 30 years as a comedian, author and teacher, Nolan runs eight regular comedy rooms in the Ballina, Byron and Tweed areas. One of them, the Big Gig at Ballina RSL, has been on for 11 years.

Mandy Nolan will be performing her show Women Like Us with former stand up student Ellen Briggs at Byron Writers Festival. She will also be offering her Stand Up Comedy Course at Byron Communty College from August 8 to September 12. Visit mandynolan.com.au for details.

Nanette is available to stream now on Netflix.



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