"I float around," says Josh Thomas, "and I've just been very lucky."
The 27-year-old Australian comedian is trying to explain his success in what he'd argue is the absence of ambition or a strategy.
Still, look at him: a star Down Under and the leading man, writer and executive producer of his own half-hour comedy-drama, "Please Like Me," which began a 10-episode second season on the Pivot network Aug. 8 (10:30 p.m. Fridays).
A study in budding adulthood and its pitfalls, the series might be described as "Seinfeld" blended with a guy-centric "Girls." Last season it followed Josh, a young Melbournite, as he loved and lost a girlfriend, then finally acknowledging that he was gay, loved and lost a boyfriend. He came out to his divorced parents while coping with his father's overbearing new wife and his bipolar mother's wild mood swings. But through it all, Josh kept his head above water.
Thomas has ample material from his own life to fuel the series, just as, a decade ago, at age 17, it prompted his entry into stand-up at Melbourne clubs with open-mic sessions. "My first routine was about my mum deciding to buy me condoms: She asked me what size I wanted." A chuckle. "Now I realize she's bipolar.
"I wasn't making a lot of great choices. You should have seen what I was wearing then. And I had a girlfriend! I didn't have a lot of stuff sorted out."
He says his stand-up shows and TV appearances in Australia have attracted a surprisingly varied audience: "60-year-olds, young couples, gays, a few lesbians and a lot of teenage girl fans who didn't have enough self-esteem to have a crush on Justin Bieber. They wanted someone more accessible.
"I really loved stand-up," he says, "but I thought I'd be OK at writing a sitcom, 'cause narrative is what my stand-up was anyway."
Thomas says he's not so different from his character in the show: "It's just me saying what I would say if the stuff I write was really happening. And I try to say it the way I would say it in real life.
"When we were pitching the show," he recalls, "Josh was straight. I came out after that. So I had a meeting with the network and said, 'There's been some script changes.' "
Originally broadcast on Australian television, "Please Like Me" was acquired by Pivot, which initially considered refilming it with Thomas as an Aussie living in the U.S. "But then they decided to keep it the way it is," Thomas says.
As production began on Season 2, "I tried to keep it truthful, honest-seeming," Thomas continues. "But it's not a life guide."
At one moment, TV-Josh is self-centered and lackadaisical, the next, compassionate and responsible. "You don't know if Josh is going to walk away from a problem or sit down and solve it," Thomas adds. "But he's just me, and on any given day, I don't know what I'd do either."