She has a reputation for being serious, but Hannah Gadsby still managed to get five star reviews across the board this year for her one-woman show, Mrs Chuckles - which she describes as a tale of mild success and utter failure told in the manner of vague indifference and total incredulity. A regular on Australian television, Hannah is a Tasmanian girl done good and, ahead of four nights at London’s Soho Theatre, she found time to speak to So So Gay:
SSG: So what’s the idea behind Mrs Chuckles?
Hannah Gadsby: It started out as a reflection on the art of small talk. And then it became about something much smaller. The show now covers heritage, prudishness and death.
You talk about your upbringing and growing up as a lesbian in Tasmania, and how much it has changed in its tolerance and outlook. Why do you think this is?
Tasmania has the most progressive laws in Australia in regards to sexuality and discrimination. I think this is partly due to the shame thrust upon it 15 years ago when the UN had strong words to say about legalizing homosexuality. Not everyone listens to the UN; I’m glad we did.
Do you get a good reception in Tasmania?
I do. I love performing there. I am welcomed and I appreciate that.
Is there much of a difference between Australian and British audiences?
Audiences are much more vocal about what they don’t like here. I’ve had to speed up my speech patterns here so I don’t leave so many pauses for heckling!
Some women have a tough time on the circuit and it’s said they get much less time to prove themselves. Is this something you’ve found?
Change takes time because people are resistant too it. It’s a survival instinct. Women will be more and more welcomed on panel shows once people realise we are just men in sheep’s clothing.
What are you looking forward to most about performing in London?
I am mostly afraid of London. I have spent a lot of time on the Tube.
You have a very serious persona on stage – what makes you laugh?
Kittens on YouTube.
Mrs Chuckles is playing at Soho Theatre, 21 Dean Street, London W1D 3Ne. Tickets cost from £10-£15 and are available from the box office online or on 020 7478 0100.