Josh Thomas is many things. He’s a comedian, screenwriter and actor. He’s Bob Katter’s one-time Grindr advisor. And he’s an ambassador for a “gayer” Melbourne, the city that was the setting for his Emmy-nominated series Please Like Me, which begins with Thomas’s character, also named Josh, coming to the realisation he’s gay. “I’ve made a lot of gays move to Melbourne. It makes me happy,” Thomas tells Broadsheet. “I’ve made Melbourne gayer. I can take responsibility for that, and I do.”

At the end of January 2024, the LA-based comic returns to Australia with his latest project Let’s Tidy Up. The 70-minute stand-up set sees Thomas try to work out how to do the small stuff. “It’s quite literally about tidying up. One of the biggest struggles in my life is trying to tidy up,” says Thomas. “It’s about how much we’re meant to accept how shit we are.”

Let’s Tidy Up was written with American-Australian playwright and Thomas’s best friend, Lally Katz. “She was the one person I knew before I moved [to Los Angeles],” he says. “We’d hang out and say outrageous things to each other.”

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Yet despite the show’s theme, Thomas’s writing process remains in disorder. “I don’t really know how things get written. You write some stuff down and think it’s not very good and then never get around to changing it.”

When Broadsheet calls, Thomas is touring Let’s Tidy Up across North America. “They think I’m cooler here, or something,” he says. “It’s weird going to places like Cleveland and Denver, Colorado, and there’s all these people there for me. It’s creepy, I’ve never thought about Denver, Colorado, in my life. Not once. Not for a second. But there are people in Denver, Colorado, thinking about me?”

But Thomas, who’s lived between Melbourne and California since 2017, doesn’t plan on settling down in the States. “We’re not a culture match. I don’t think I’ll stay here. I’ll move back [to Australia] next year.”

The Brisbane-born comedian has spent most of his career in Melbourne, after winning Best Newcomer for his debut solo show at Melbourne Comedy Festival in 2007. It shared a name with his series Please Like Me, which brought a modest corner of Thornbury into an international spotlight when it debuted in 2013. But before writing and starring in his own show, he repped Gen Y on popular quiz show Talkin’ ‘Bout Your Generation.

As part of his nationwide tour, Thomas will return to Melbourne for a stint at the Arts Centre Playhouse as part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival from April 9 – 21 next year. As for how he’ll spend his time off-stage in Melbourne? “We always do the same thing. A long lunch at The European. Go there at 3pm for a long time, which they don’t let you do in America. Maybe get some mung bean pies from Victoria Street.

“I really miss prawns, bugs and seafood generally. Not oysters, though. It’s the one food thing that Australia does worse,” he says. “They wet shuck them. They rinse them!”

Recently, Thomas worked on a script for a new series with Hulu. But unlike Please Like Me and Thomas’s follow-up Everything’s Gonna Be Okay, he’s eager to stay off screen. “I want to make a show I’m not in. I’m a bit sick of myself. How many cinematic universes can I be in? I don’t think more than two,” says Thomas.

“Quack, quack, quack, shut up,” he says, laughing.

Let’s Tidy Up premieres at the Sydney Opera House on January 31 before heading across the country, including stints at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Adelaide Fringe and Brisbane Comedy Festival. Tickets are on sale now.