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Watch Hannah Gadsby Talk Failed Comedy Exit Strategy on ‘Fallon’

‘Nanette’ stand-up comic also detailed awkward meeting, text exchange with Emma Thompson

Hannah Gadsby told Jimmy Fallon that her plan to leave comedy "backfired" with the wide acclaim of her debut Netflix special, 'Nannette.'

Hannah Gadsby’s plan to leave comedy “backfired” with the universal acclaim of her debut Netflix special, Nanette, the stand-up comic told Jimmy Fallon on Wednesday’s Tonight Show. “I wrote the show because I’d had enough,” she said, detailing her surprise success. “It’s a quitting show. I’m quitting. I thought, ‘I’ll drop a bomb and leave.’ And I really thought it would divide audiences, and it just hasn’t.”

But Gadsby’s accepted the irony of her career approach. “I said I was quitting,” she said. “If I quit, I’m an idiot now. If the show had gone as badly as I’d planned, it would have worked. But now, I’m left with a choice: I’ll either be an idiot or a hypocrite … I’ll be a hypocrite.”

The Australian comedian also recalled meeting a particularly famous fan, Emma Thompson, who asked to meet the shy Gadsby after a stand-up show. “I’m anti-social at the best of times,” she said. “I had a blanket policy, ‘I’m not meeting people,’ particularly because sometimes when people like a comedy show, they want to hug. I have a strong ‘me circle’ policy – keep it clear.” But Gadsby’s sound tech convinced her to meet Thompson, despite her reservations – and the fact that she didn’t quite recognize the actress.

“I went out, and I didn’t really know who she was,” Gadsby told Fallon. “I had a vague idea – I knew she wore a bonnet in something. I Googled her – I know now … She said, “Oh, me, can I have a hug? … We ended up just crying on each other’s shoulders.”

Later on, Thompson sought out the comic’s phone number and sent a heartfelt text message. In response, Gadsby accidentally sent a photo of Chuck Norris, which she intended for a friend.

The comedian recently spoke to Rolling Stone about the unexpected career boost of Nanette. “I really was writing as though I was throwing a grenade, and I fully expected for the show to seal me off in the margins,” she said. “I am so shocked and overwhelmingly stunned. It’s become bigger than me. And I’m happy for that.”

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