HANNAH GADSBY: CELEBRITY STAND UP, TRAUMA, AND THE META THEATRICS OF PERSONA CONSTRUCTION

MARY LUCKHURST

Abstract


This essay examines the work of stand-up performer Hannah Gadsby in relation to persona, extending the conventional reach of persona studies to the realm of live performance and comedy. The author analyses Hannah Gadsby’s risky decision to kill off her widely adored comic persona in her 2017 show Nanette, replacing it with a persona that shot her to global celebrity and changed the power dynamics with her audiences. The essay investigates Gadsby’s contention that stand-up is bad for her mental health and is predicated on an abusive relationship with audiences. It considers her strategies of comic unmaking and remaking in the contexts of women working in a sexist industry within misogynist societies. It also interrogates Gadsby’s dramaturgies of foregrounding persona creation and the performative dialogic of ‘face’ or ‘mask.’ Gadsby’s postmodern deconstruction of her own comic artistry and her exposure of the limits of stand-up as a form are examined through a new concept of meta-persona.

Keywords


Mask; Live Performance; Audience; Meta-persona; Gay Politics; Mental Health

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.21153/psj2019vol5no2art916

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License | ISSN 2205-5258