27 February 2013

Michelle See-Tho chats to Josh Thomas about his new TV show, the stand up comedy industry, and douche bags.

With his cute ooh-where’d-he-come-from accent, messy blonde hair and boyish smile, Josh Thomas is certainly one of Australia’s most recognisable and most adorable comedians. His new TV series Please Like Me is a comedy-drama series.

“It’s got six episodes and in the first episode I get my first-ever boyfriend and he’s really beautiful,” Josh says. “His name is Geoffrey in the show. He’s really pretty. I loved it—I cast him and then he kisses me a lot in the show and then also, unrelatedly, my mum attempts suicide. And that’s the show.”

Please Like Me is roughly based on Josh’s own life. It focuses on 20-year-old character, “Josh”. Though the 25-year-old clarifies in the rambling way he performs stand-up that, “I do not look 20. I look like the most hideous 20-year-old. Like for a 20 year old I look just like, ‘oh that poor kid’—that’s what you think.”

He also stresses that the coming-of-age story is mostly fiction. One of his major concerns with writing was that friends might recognise characters, such as his parents. “Their personalities are quite similar in the show but they do heaps of stuff they didn’t do in real life. So I’m really worried that my mum’s friends are going to watch it and think that she’s done all this crazy stuff, which I just invented.”

He tells me that writing a television series has been very different to writing a stand-up show. “Stand-up is so casual, like, if I just think of something funny that I want to say then I’ll say it.” Making Please Like Me, on the other hand, has involved teams of people who read, re-read and edit the script.

“But I really liked it. I really liked all the people going through it. I really liked having a meticulously scripted thing where we knew what we were making, which I’ve never had before. Usually I’m just kind of fumbling through making a thing.”

After spending the whole of 2012 working on Please Like Me, Josh is a bit nervous about performing live again, but he believes that his new show will be fun.

He returns to stand-up with Douchebag, touring Australia this year to coincide with the Melbourne International Comedy Festival.

“It’s about me being, like, a bad person,” he explains when I ask about the intriguing title. “It’s not a really elaborate hour about little bags that people use to clean out their vaginas,”—an important distinction to make.

We chat about the stand-up comedy industry as a whole, which he chastises it for its sexist habits. “It’s a bit misogynistic—there we go!”

He tells me approximately two-thirds of comedy audiences are made up of women, and the remaining third are usually boyfriends of those women. So, since tickets are primarily bought by females, male comedians should know their audiences and write their stand-up accordingly.

“You see so many boys there and they act like they’re boys out for a boys’ night. It’s so wrong!” he says. “Often they’re being douchebags and they’re saying things that are not helping society.”

He laughs when I ask him if he has any advice for people wanting to break into comedy.

“I get so many messages on my Facebook—people are like, ‘I really want to do stand-up. What do you think I should do?’ And I just don’t reply because I think, ‘oh, if you’re messaging me then it’s on your mind already.’ There’s nothing I can tell you, just book a gig, you know, call up a mic night somewhere and ask to be on stage and then, you do it!”

He says he doesn’t want to give anyone the false impression that amateur stand-up comedy is easy. “I’d be telling lies,” he says. “People have already hired me to do that.”

Please Like Me kicks off on ABC2 with a double episode on Thursday 28 February at 9.30pm. Josh will be performing his brand new show Douchebag during the Melbourne Comedy Festival from 28 March. For tickets visit or call 1300 660 013 (Ticketmaster) or 132 849 (Ticketek).

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