In 2005, at the tender age of 18, Josh Thomas won the national final of the prestigious JJJ Raw Comedy competition and over a year on is hard at work building his reputation as one of the countries funniest new stand-ups. Josh says of his experience “I entered a competition and I won the final in front of one and a half thousand people… and it was exciting… and it felt like I’d won Australian idol… and the next week I was at the Albany Creek Tavern in front of five people and one guy crying into his beer and I thought… yes… there’s no business like show business, there’s no business I know.”
At this years Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Josh performed at the Comedy Zone, where the festival organizers pick four emerging comics from around the country and produce them in a show. Josh finds himself much richer for the experience and next year will take his one man show, “Please like me”, to the Melbourne comedy festival. Josh tells me, “It’s about wanting people to like me… It’s an appropriate title for my first festival show.”
Josh started comedy because, he says, “I was really bad at everything else. I used to do acting and stuff at high school. I was ‘Performing Arts Prefect’ so watch out, you’re talking to a pretty powerful guy. It was always comedy though, I hate serious stuff.” At the age of fourteen, Josh entered a national, student comedy competition called Class Clowns, apparently his best joke was, “Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Neither. Chickens can’t have sex with eggs.” Thankfully Josh has matured as a satirist since then and is fast becoming prominent and prolific on a national level. Asked to describe his style of comedy, Josh quips, “Totally gay. (laughs)”
It must be noted that Josh is not gay, although everyone he meets thinks he is. I did. It’s an issue that he doesn’t shy away from on stage and while he has mastered playing up his sensitive, effeminate, feebleness, his content is intelligent and varied. Josh puts it simply, “I try to talk about things that are interesting instead of… things that aren’t interesting” So refreshing in the oft monotonously, misogynistic world of stand-up comedy.
In April this year Josh started a free comedy show called, ‘Livewired’ at the Spark Bar in The Brisbane Powerhouse, out of what he felt was a need for an alternative to the commercial venues in Brisbane. Livewired brought the cream of Brisbane’s young comedians out of the pubs and put them into a theatre, (albeit a theatre’s bar but a theatre no less). “I wanna do a show next year and the slogan will be ‘Brisbane comedy has been owned by bogans for too long.'”
Despite being a free show for the audience, thanks to the Powerhouse, Livewired has attracted some of the biggest names in the business, including: Greg Fleet, Frank Woodley, Judith Lucy, Eddie Perfect and New York’s, Eddie Ift. “I felt like Livewired filled a gap, which was, we just needed a place that was nice.” I ask Josh if he’s proud of the Livewired shows and he remarks simply, “I just did it. It needed to be done. I wanted to perform there so I did a show that I could perform in.”
That’s exactly what makes this young man so remarkable. On stage and even in person Josh endearingly projects himself with a shy, almost innocent, boyish-awkwardness. Scruffy, confused and in need of a good hug. Yet, spend any decent amount of time around him and you notice that this guy is sharp, driven and purposeful and the proof is in the proverbial pudding.
Livewired will finish on November 26 while the powerhouse renovates but will be back again in May 2007 and promises to be even bigger and better with sponsors and more big name acts, while maintaining it’s free and accessible nature.
When the conversation delves into the intricacies of the comedy scene in “Papua New Brizzy” Josh states, “It’s great now. It’ll never be the epicentre of culture in Australia because there’s only like 12 people here (laughs) but its a really, healthy scene. It wasn’t healthy seven months ago. It’s getting good now though, places like the Newmarket Hotel (Sit Down Comedy Club Open Mic room) and Uber’s, ‘Spank The Monkey’ (A fortnightly comedy event in the city’s trendy West End) are creatively satisfying, y’know and those venues weren’t around seven months ago.”
As for the distant future, Josh wants to just keep going. “I wanna be a live stand-up comedian. That’s all I’ve ever wanted to do. I love being funny.” Conveniently, it seems, audiences and industry alike, love him being funny too.
Article submitted by comedian Dave Eastgate.
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