PRO­FILE Josh Thomas

The co­me­dian ad­mits any show he made was go­ing to be awk­ward be­cause he’s an awk­ward guy, writes Sh­eryl-lee Kerr, but it’s not as awk­ward as it could have been if he’d had to pre­tend to like kiss­ing girls.

The Sunday Mail (Queensland) - TV Guide - - FRONT PAGE -

PLEASE LIKE ME Thurs­day, 9.30pm, ABC2

CO­ME­DIAN Josh Thomas is in a bit of a lather. He seems to be flail­ing some­where be­tween mild fret­ting and hav­ing a fullscale melt­down over his act­ing de­but on Please Like Me, the com­edy TV se­ries he wrote and co-pro­duced.

Adding to the anx­i­ety is that he has never had an act­ing les­son in his life. Well, ex­cept maybe a day’s worth of tips from the show’s di­rec­tor which, he says, counts. More on that later.

Please Like Me is a fic­tion­alised ver­sion of Thomas’ own life and that of friends, fam­ily and lovers, in the vein of Se­in­feld. It is also wry, orig­i­nal and sub­limely awk­ward. Sug­gest that cri­tique to Thomas and he ner­vously picks over it.

‘‘Very few peo­ple have seen the show at the moment and I am just so, so, so needy for pos­i­tive feed­back,’’ he be­gins.

‘‘Orig­i­nal is good, right? I tried very hard to make it orig­i­nal. But some­times orig­i­nal is a bad thing, like lick­ing Nutella off a kit­ten is orig­i­nal but that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.

‘‘Sub­lime is a good word. That’s a pos­i­tive word, I’ll fo­cus on that. A show made by me was al­ways go­ing to be awk­ward. I’m a very awk­ward guy. So yes, I think that is what I’m go­ing for.

‘‘I wanted the show to feel really hon­est. For it to feel quite bru­tal but then quite sweet, sort of de­press­ing but also heart-warm­ing. Ev­ery­one is com­pletely ill-equipped but try­ing their best to keep ev­ery­one happy. I think all th­ese things are good in­gre­di­ents for com­edy.’’

Shot in Mel­bourne, the first episode be­gins with his girl­friend dump­ing him af­ter de­cid­ing he’s gay. Then a hunky bloke takes a shine to him. His de­pressed mother (De­bra Lawrance) at­tempts sui­cide, forc­ing him to move back in with her, and his di­vorced fa­ther (David Roberts) is in a guilty mess over it.

The show’s top cast has given Thomas a new ap­pre­ci­a­tion for ac­tors.

‘‘I really didn’t ap­pre­ci­ate ac­tors be­fore I made this,’’ he says.

‘‘I thought they were just dopes with nice teeth who took credit for what smarter peo­ple write but the cast on this show changed my mind. They were skilled, su­per tal­ented and su­per im­pres­sive. I’m really grate­ful they weren’t big id­iots.

‘‘My act­ing was the big wild­card. No one knew if I could do it. I had never been on a drama set in my life. I didn’t have to au­di­tion be­cause I’m one of the peo­ple in charge.

‘‘We fig­ured I was just act­ing as me, which I should be able to do.

‘‘I had a day set aside with (di­rec­tor) Matt Sav­ille to try and get him to give me act­ing tips. He said, ‘Lis­ten to what peo­ple say and then re­act the way you think you would if some­one said that to you’. It’s the best act­ing ad­vice I’ve ever heard. I feel bad for all those chumps that spent three years at univer­sity!’’ So how does he reckon he went? ‘‘I think some­times I was really good. I sur­prised my­self,’’ he de­cides. ‘‘Some­times I am just dread­ful.’’

‘‘We fig­ured I was just act­ing as me, which I should be

able to do’’

He says the show changed sev­eral times over the four years of try­ing to sell it to the ABC. ‘‘When we first pitched it I was straight, so the main char­ac­ter was straight. But then I wasn’t and we fig­ured peo­ple would feel awk­ward watch­ing me pre­tend to like kiss­ing girls so the love in­ter­est be­came a boy,’’ he says.

On that topic, the show in­cludes at least one hot and heavy, supremely awk­ward make-out ses­sion with his char­ac­ter’s near­naked new boyfriend, Ge­of­frey (Wade Briggs). One won­ders what his fam­ily made of Thomas’ first TV (al­most) sex scene?

‘‘My mum and dad and sis­ter have watched it,’’ he says. ‘‘They all turned away dur­ing the make-out scenes. My dad got a bit freaked out by it. He’s wor­ried about how the na­tion will han­dle it. I have no idea what my grandma will think. She is pretty cool. She’ll prob­a­bly ask me to put her in touch with Wade.’’

When not pen­ning his own TV show, Thomas’ life is packed. He has a stand-up tour coming up, a boyfriend, is a hit on Face­book and Twit­ter and has overseas travel plans to con­tem­plate.

‘‘I am so con­tent at the moment, it’s a real source of con­cern,’’ he dead­pans.

When not fret­ting about his show or dis­turbingly happy life, the keen cook can of­ten be found in the kitchen.

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