ENTERTAINMENT
16/06/2020 1:03 PM AEST

Josh Thomas Apologises For 'Insensitive' Comments About Racial Diversity In Resurfaced Clip

"I'm super ashamed," said the comedian, referring to comments he made at a 2016 writer's room panel.

Comedian Josh Thomas has apologised, saying he’s “super ashamed” for comments he made about diverse casting in a resurfaced clip from 2016. 

The video showed the writer and star of ABC’s TV comedy, ‘Please Like Me’, speaking at a panel discussion about writer’s rooms alongside fellow actors and writers, Dan Harmon (known for ‘Community’ and ‘Rick and Morty’) and Australia’s Celia Pacquola and Luke McGregor. 

Writer, actor and activist Moreblessing Maturure shared a YouTube link to the panel discussion after Josh posted an image earlier in the week calling for Coon cheese to be renamed as he referred to “disrespect” for “Black people”.

“Has anyone told @JoshThomas87 that 44:00 onwards of this SOH ‘The Writer’s Room’ is infamous in many-a rooms/masterclasses? The short hand is “Don’t be The Josh of the room” Anyway, ‘Aus entertainment is Supremacist’ is barely a hot take, so xoxo,” she tweeted.

The clip in question featured Josh suggesting “immigrants don’t want to be actors” and that “finding an experienced actor that’s not white is really hard”.

“So in Australia.. this is going to sound racist,” he said, adding, “well let’s find out”.

“Because we’ve tried really hard for years now, right, and we’re really, we’re really, but I think most of the immigrants in Australia have come pretty recently, and generally, first or second-generation immigrants don’t want to be actors. They have real jobs,” he continued.

Josh went on to say what he “found quite confronting” when making a TV show is not knowing “you have to pick every person.”

″‘Josh, what do you want the 7-11 worker to look like?’ Do you make them Indian, or is that offensive? Or if you make them white, is it a bit like you’re lying, really? What do you do?” 

“But also, it’s taking a job away from an Indian actor if you don’t,” responded Celia.

“What answer is not offensive?” asked Josh, at which point Luke interjected, “We’re probably not going to come to the answer with this panel,” referring to the all-white line-up. 

YouTube/Sydney Opera House
Josh Thomas on the panel in 2016.

As Dan Harmon began speaking about Hollywood’s efforts to make TV writers rooms more diverse, Josh interrupted, saying, “I feel like I just tried to say this and they thought it was racist, so I love that you’re doubling down on it...

“Finding people who have been given the same opportunities to be great at acting is really hard. None of the other shows are hiring people that aren’t white.

“Finding an experienced actor that’s not white is really hard. You find yourself in a situation where you want to be more diverse, but this person doesn’t have as much experience as this person, and then it’s hard to know what to do, because you don’t want to be favouring people when they’re not going to do a good job.” 

“In the states, the answer is you have to look harder,” said Dan. 

The video immediately generated reactions on social media. 

“I remember hearing about this embarrassing shit while I was in my final audition for an ABC show (ironically the most diverse ensemble cast on Aus tv) which I ended up being in and NOT playing a 7/11 worker btw, wow brown ppl can play a spectrum of roles? Who woulda thought,” tweeted Indian-Australian actor Arka Das.

Underbelly actor Johnny Lahoud shared a screenshot of a Facebook post he wrote in 2016 after being an audience member at the panel event. 

On Tuesday morning Josh shared an apology on Twitter, saying he was “being a really, dumb, illogical, insensitive idiot and it’s gross”.

“I’m super ashamed of the comments I made, and would like to apologise.” 

Josh’s full apology below.