Though he's still relatively unknown in America, comedian Josh Thomas has already made quite a name for himself back in his home country of Australia for his award-winning standup and acclaimed TV comedy series Please Like Me. Now thanks to the newly-launched Pivot TV network, American audiences will get a chance to check out Josh's brand of clever/awkward comedy for themselves starting tonight.
In even better news for the young comic, it was announced this week that a second season of the show has already been greenlit by Pivot as a co-production with its original home network of ABC in Australia. GLAAD had a chance to speak with Josh last week, just before the renewal announcement:
GLAAD: I understand this is a show based on your own stand up and born of your own experiences and sense of humor, so to start off, what were some of your influences growing up? Any films or TV that left a mark?
Josh: I watched a lot of Hairspray. I liked that movie, but I don't know if I would say it was a big influence. Maybe when I release my musical blockbuster, I'll take some cues from Hairspray. But my stand up and my show is like - some parts are based on my life, some parts are true, but it is fiction. I take a lot of license. I am a homosexual and I do own an adorable dog and my mother does have mental health issues, but outside of that it's quite fictional. My boyfriend's not that attractive. He's not as attractive as the boyfriend in the show.
GLAAD: And speaking of the show, how did you go from doing your own stand up to having your own show?
Josh: I'm from Australia, so there's only like 12 of us, you know what I mean? So if you want your own show, you just sort of ask for it. You just go, "Hey guys, can I have a TV show?" And then they find like $12, they give it to you, and then you make it. Mostly it's a lot lot of forms. I filled out a lot of forms…But I'm quite popular in my country. I was rated the 250th most popular celebrity, so I get to brag. I was just after Kashi, who's a guy you've never heard of. So you know, people were kind of interested. We spent like 4 years, 5 years making this show, and when we originally pitched it, I had a girlfriend the whole series because I'd never kissed a boy before in my real life. Then after they commissioned the development round, I came out and they were like, "Oh yeah, so that girl's going to be a boy now." And that's why that's in there, that's it.
GLAAD: Especially in fictionalized media, there's a lot of coming out scenes which are played for very high dramatic effect, and in the first episode of your show, Josh—you—come out to the best friend, and it almost sort of plays like an afterthought. Was that actually based on an experience you had?
Josh: It's meant to feel like Josh is a bit more uptight about it than he's letting on, do you know what I mean? Like he's just pretending. But also, in my life it was such a non-fuss. …I didn't have a big sit down coming out. It feels very 90s to me. Realize, I came out to my dad via text message. Just because I couldn't be bothered, you know, I just don't think it needs to be that…in my family it doesn't need to be that dramatic. I understand in a lot of families when you grow up it's like super religious or not that open-minded, and it can be a big dramatic deal and people have to walk through dealing with that. I understand that for lot of people, that's the way it is. But we're from the middle class, we live in the city, my brother is also gay and in my real life, he'd come out and just…nobody was [upset], you know?
GLAAD: Would you say that's an experience that parallels that of many people in your generation?
Josh: Yeah, I think for a lot of my fans they were struck by the awkward conversations, you know what I mean? It was like as far as eventful conversations go, it's like on the same level when your mom explains what tampons are. But other than that, it's not that dramatic for a lot of people. I don't want to downplay a lot of kids getting kicked out of their homes when they tell their parents they're gay, but it just wasn't that way for me. It just wasn't that way for me and my very open-minded fans and their families.
GLAAD: So in the first episode, we're sort of introduced to Josh's love interest. How can viewers expect to see that storyline progress over the remainder of the series?
Josh: In my mind, he's really beautiful and he kisses Josh and of course Josh goes with it because he's so pretty that he just can't miss the opportunity. He's just a beautiful, beautiful man. It goes somewhere. That guy is kind of unlikeable. He's beautiful, but he's kind of unlikeable. So it's sort of Josh juggling wanting to kiss this pretty boy that he doesn't actually like.
GLAAD: Australia is dealing with its own LGBT struggles at the moment, including some efforts to enact marriage equality for same-sex couples throughout the nation. Do you have any hopes or predictions for what you want Australia to do in the next few years in that regard?
Josh: Well we've got a little action coming up in Australia at the moment. Our deal is that we've got like a new guy that was leading a party that would say no to gay marriage, and then they kind of half-heartedly said some people could vote 'yes' if they wanted, it's very complicated. But now nobody really knows because we just got a new prime minister and he is for gay marriage, but we're going into an election and the people that are in power at the moment are unpopular because they're quite sh*t...So as far as hoping for gay marriage, I think it's looking grim for another 5 years, maybe…We don't have the state-based system so we can't do it state by state. It's all or nothing.
All six episodes of Please Like Me will air in a marathon on Pivot tonight starting at 8pm ET/ 7pm CT, but you can watch the first episode embedded below.