Comedian Josh Thomas on photoshoots, dropping out of uni and oversharing on TV

August 11, 2014
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Josh Thomas doesn’t like photoshoots. He’s been in the entertainment industry for the best part of a decade, in which time he’s appeared on top-rating TV shows and toured the country again and again. But despite his experience, he still doesn’t like photoshoots.

“I find them quite difficult,” he says. “Once I did one where they were like ‘just hold this umbrella’, and I held the umbrella and it was stupid because it wasn’t raining. I just want to stand there, you know. Or just sit down”.

Thomas has spent a fair bit of his career sitting down. On Talkin’ ‘Bout Your Generation he sat behind a desk as the team captain for Gen Y. He spends a considerable chunk of time on semi-autobiographical drama-comedy Please Like Me sitting with his dog John, his friends, his love interests and his mother.Before all this sitting for cameras, though, Thomas used to sit in university lecture halls. He studied a Bachelor of Creative Industries majoring in Television – a pursuit which is alluded to in Please Like Me. When asked about his degree, Thomas admits that the name “sound ridiculous”. “The funny thing is, everyone brings it up and everyone thinks it’s a funny joke we made in the show. But I never realised it was funny, cause it was just my life,” he says.

Thomas didn’t last long in his now-defunct degree, leaving after a semester. He did eventually return, completing a second semester part-time “just for fun”, but is adamant that he won’t be back again. “I don’t know how much they could teach me,” he says. There’s also the slight problem that the course no longer exists.

While Thomas says that his studies were “probably a waste of money,” he’s confident that going to uni was the right thing to do at the time. Dropping out, however, was vital to Thomas’ career, allowing him to build a national profile through touring. This led to occasional TV spots, which led to regular TV appearances, which led to Generation and then Please Like Me.

If he was starting out now, Thomas isn’t sure things would run as smoothly. “How would you introduce yourself to people?” he asks. “There’s not that many TV spots. There aren’t that many shows with comedians on them, you know?”

Thomas thinks the internet is the best bet, but remains sceptical about the competitive, noise-filled space. “I don’t know how you crack that,” he says. “I would be scared [as a newcomer]”.Of course, like just about every young person, Thomas has had occasional career blips. Speaking about a stint of unemployment post-Generation, he says “I didn’t get that worried about it, because I’m pretty young. A lot of my friends don’t have jobs”.

“I’m quite happy to be poor,” says Thomas. “But I have done dumb things, just because I was worried I wasn’t going to get a job for a while, for cash, just because you need to eat”.

The entertainment industry is notoriously fickle, but Thomas’ employment seems relatively stable – Please Like Me was recently commissioned for a third season. Aside from television, Thomas also remains in demand as a stand-up comedian. He’s aware that many comedians can overshare during live shows, and says that disclosing personal information is an individual choice.

“There’s a few times I’ve done shows about things and I’ve thought ‘ah, probably didn’t need to share that’. It affects your life a little bit, people knowing so much about it. [But] it’s never bothered me. I’d prefer them to know.”

This penchant for disclosure is demonstrated in Please Like Me, with Thomas reliving (with, one imagines, a fair few embellishments) the travails of his coming out and early adulthood. The series is airing on US network Pivot, and Thomas will soon jet over to the States to promote it. During his absence, Thomas’ dog John will be staying with his boyfriend’s mother.

Thomas calls this arrangement “annoying”. “He likes her so much more than he likes me. And then I come home and he’s just not that interested in seeing me. They’re both just really in love with each other. She cooks up little chicken breasts for his dinner and feeds it to him. I can’t compete with that.”John Rowley

John Rowley studies a Bachelor of Arts (Media & Communications) at the University of Sydney. Between eating pistachios, writing, tweeting from @JohnLRowley and watching Girls Aloud videos on YouTube, he doesn’t have time for much else.

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Please Like Me returns to ABC2 on Tuesday August 12 at 9.30pm.

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