Hannah Gadsby had one of the biggest and best breakout moments of 2018 with her searing Netflix special, Nanette. That show, set up as a kind of two weeks’ notice to her comedy career, resulted in international acclaim, and she is now performing a new show, Douglas, off-Broadway (it will be on Netflix in 2020). Gadsby dropped by The Late Show with Stephen Colbert to promote Douglas, and her segment is delightful, yet also illustrative of Colbert’s shortcoming with interviews. He has really made The Late Show his own, and his monologues are solid, but man, when he gets out of depth with a guest, there is no recovering. It takes about two minutes for this interview to start derailing, and if it wasn’t for Gadsby’s own magnetism as a performer, this would not have turned out so well. Take a look:
I get the impulse to ask about Beyoncé, when someone is nominated alongside Beyoncé. But is that REALLY the best question to ask Hannah Gadsby? She set the WORLD back on its ass with Nanette. She gave voice to the pain of millions who have been harmed by toxic men. More recently, she gave a wonderful TED Talk about her neuro-atypical diagnosis and how being on the spectrum influences her creative process. But sure, let’s ask the obligatory Beyoncé question. (Lainey: cut to me, looking guilty, because I ask about Beyoncé whenever I can, near the end of an interview – is that a sh-tty excuse?) She actually touches on her diagnosis in the interview, and then segues neatly into that great pet rock bit. For the back half of this interview, Colbert feels superfluous. Gadsby doesn’t need a host to prompt her through her spiel (in fact, won’t let the host prompt her through her spiel). Colbert isn’t a bad interviewer, he just doesn’t seem to prepare the same for all his guests. If his guest is not a politician, or someone he is personally a fan of, he has a tendency to go for the easiest, most obvious lobs, like the Beyoncé thing. (Lainey: still over here being a dumbass.) But Hannah Gadsby is so sharp, this feels like wasting her time. If she’s going to do the talk show rounds for Douglas, I hope at some point she sits down with Conan O’Brien. I don’t think he would waste her time.
Watch Hannah Gadsby’s TED Talk here:
Update! Hannah Gadsby is featured on Conan's podcast. Thanks Jessica!