Whoopsie Daisy ★★★
Palais Theatre, November 9
Josh Thomas took an hiatus from stand-up comedy six years ago when his ABC TV series Please Like Me took off in the US. He has spent the past several years living in Los Angeles trying to break into “Gay Hollywood”, which forms the basis for this biting 75-minute set.
Thomas also tackles the subject of his mother’s mental health issues – he says she isn’t exactly like his on-screen mother in Please Like Me, but she is perhaps as unpredictable. Stories of her trip to New York and experimentations with drugs are powerful, though perhaps low on laughs.
The comedian with the peculiar accent (now with added American twang) is at his best talking about the inner workings of sleazy Hollywood, including one of the most memorable balloon gags you’re likely to hear.
He deftly skips over topics such as his attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, his lack of conventional social skills, some horrendously bad Grindr dates, and his 13-year-old dog John.
At times his life sounds unambiguously depressing, but Thomas always knows when to lift the energy with something ridiculous, such as performing an extended musical number from Les Miserables.
Thomas references his former co-star Hannah Gadsby’s virtuoso stand-up set Nanette, and while Whoopsie Daisy is similarly smart, it falls short of Gadsby’s shattering delivery and timely themes. While he’s a drily engaging presence, there seems to be no overarching explanation for this long-awaited comeback. Let’s hope it’s not six years before the next one.