By bobb | Thu, 4/6/2020 - 08:06

Hannah Gadsby isn't here to teach you about autism, but there are things to learn if you are willing.

"But people don't always want to learn, so screw them," she said this week.

The Australian comedian is back after her barnstorming show Nanette delved into past trauma and rocketed her to international fame.

Her new show, Douglas, is a deliberately lighter touch that draws on her experience living with autism and weaves in anecdotes from her life.

Youtube The trailer for Gadsby's new show Douglas (warning: strong language used)

"I wanted it to almost contradict Nanette — you know, to take out the tension and take the fun up a notch," she said.

"I wanted to make it less about teaching autism than just being [with] autism.

"But they're there if you want to learn."

Gadsby said she had a particularly literal way of thinking and sometimes latched onto the wrong idea in situations.

Douglas includes recollections from her school days, but she said those experiences didn't end there, and she still found herself in a similar position as recently as this week in an interview.

"They said, 'What are you doing?' and I said, 'I'm learning piano.' And they said, 'Oh what are you learning?' and I said, 'The piano.' But they meant what song."

"Since diagnosis, it means I hide it less and I can laugh at myself more because I can understand it."

Hannah Gadsby standing by a door in hallway, with her dog Douglas sitting in front of her
Hannah Gadsby's new show is named after her dog, Douglas.(Supplied: Hannah Gadsby)

Gadsby said she hoped people would come away from the new show understanding that people with autism can speak for themselves.

She also hoped those on the spectrum could recognise something of themselves and have more confidence and pride in their identity and the way that they thought about the world.

And yet, Gadsby said one of the more disconcerting parts of her relatively newfound fame was that people took notice of her in a way they didn't previously.

"I now struggle to walk into a room and be ignored, and that's really how I was trained," she said.

"So I find that a little disconcerting.

"I speak now and people listen and that's very weird and dangerous, because I say things and people are like, 'We'll run with this idea.' And I'm like, that wasn't an idea."

Tasmanian comedian Hannah Gadsby
Nanette won countless international awards, including the top prize at the Edinburgh Festival.(AP: Chris Pizzello)

Fresh off a world tour and with Douglas just being released, Gadsby has come back to Australia to ride out the coronavirus in her own home isolation.

While acknowledging it is a devastating time for many, Gadsby also sees it as a natural fit for her.

"Isolation is a way of life for me. It is my holiday. I like to be on my own. I like to hibernate," she said.

"I've also got the luxury of having recent success so that means I am financially secure for the moment, and I believe that drives whether or not someone is able to cope with this moment."

As for what's next, and whether people are allowed to ask: "Ahh well, no. I mean, you can, but that's my answer: 'Ummmm?'"