Australian stand-up comedy - it’s either one of two things, right? It’s the thirtysomething Aussie bloke with the filthy mouth, talk of ‘sheilas’ and the occasional political cliché. Or, alternatively, it’s the bitter, hard-done-by woman with her cynical observations about her place in a world of Paris Hiltons and Lindsay Lohans. Oh yeah, and the occasional political cliché. Well, thankfully, Josh Thomas is on the scene to provide a very welcome breath of fresh air.
Following success at the Melbourne Comedy Festival and a trip overseas for the Montreal Just For Laughs Festival, Thomas brought his first full-length solo show to his hometown of Brisbane over the weekend. True to the show’s title, the 20-year-old was an instant hit as an insecure, reasonably skinny and sexually ambiguous blonde geek - the Generation Y ‘every-kid’ that’s neither blokey nor cynical, doesn’t play sport and has a slight obsession with Harry Potter. His act centred entirely upon the awkward nature of fitting in and, yes, being liked. It was endearing, to say the least, but - more importantly - it was entirely original and wonderfully funny.
As with any performer new to the scene, the Friday night show wasn’t without a few hiccups, of course. From an uncomfortable and ultimately futile series of audience introductions that felt as though they may go on all evening, to the lush in the audience who appeared to think she was part of the show in spite of assurances to the contrary, Thomas definitely faltered at times and admitted to having lost his train of thought. However, it all fit so naturally into the show’s theme that watching him stumble only proved to cement his role and make him that little bit more likeable.
The highlight of the one-hour performance - and centrepiece of the night - was Thomas’ uncomfortably honest account of a typical teenage date. Describing his awkward attempts at intimacy while watching Lord of the Rings on DVD in the family living room, it was clear that Thomas had hit a nerve with an audience who’d no doubt been there too at some stage. Of course, the sighs of empathy paled in comparison to the cries of laughter generated by a tale that included faked toilet breaks, self-conscious caressing of an exposed ankle and a badly-timed asthma attack. Add an open-minded mother’s discussion of testicle size and condom shopping, a father’s desire to bond through sport (‘he wanted a boy’), parental divorce, a gay brother and the high school nicknames of ‘dancing boy’ and ‘fairy boy’ (or even ‘dancing boy’) to the mix and you have Josh Thomas’ unique yet relatable vision of life as an Aussie kid in the MySpace generation.
Quirky, quick-witted and painfully honest, Josh Thomas fills a particular niche and expresses his insecurity with an ironic confidence. He gives the impression of a near-seasoned performer and, among the big guns of Australian stand-up, he’s sure to find a loyal audience and go a long way.
As for that ambiguous sexuality, Thomas insists he is only ‘90% gay’ - it’s just that his reproductive organs are completely straight.
Please Like Me
Venue: Visy Theatre
Date: 3 - 4 August
Tickets: All Tickets $22
Bookings: 07 3358 8600 or brisbanepowerhouse.org