Joel Creasey’s book ‘Thirsty: Confessions Of A Fame Whore’ is hilarious – and hopefully just the first chapter of a legendary comedic career.
As Joel himself acknowledges, it is a bit strange for a 27 year old to be writing a memoir. At first, I agreed. This might sound like a total Gen X thing to say, but what can anyone who has been a fetus in the 90s have to write about at this point in their lives? Turns out, quite a lot.
Any concerns about being too young or not having enough to say are quickly blown out the window when you see just how much life (and success) Joel’s packed into his first 27 years on the planet
For those of you who may not know, (shame on you!) – Joel is one of Australia’s most-popular, critically acclaimed and charmingly controversial stand up comedians. He’s also pretty easy on the eye, piercingly smart, oh and gay too (the ultimate cool trifecta).
If you think being a comedian at 27 is young, you might be surprised to learn he’s actually been doing stand up since 15! In this, the first decade of his career, he has harnessed his outrageous wit, sass and unrivalled story telling abilities to cement himself as Australia’s undisputed ‘Crown Prince of Comedy’ and one of the most-sought after and hottest comedians in the world.
Need proof? He was personally chosen by Joan Rivers to be her opening act. He even opened for her the day before her very untimely death. The love and respect is mutual, with her quote about him making the front cover of Thirsty. A very nice touch!
Internationally, Joel made his UK television debut on the ratings juggernaut A League of Their Own hosted by James Corden. And in the US, Joel has been seen on multiple comedy specials and on Playboy bunny Kendra Wilkinson’s reality show Kendra as her wise-cracking Aussie mate.
Joel’s fame reached even greater heights in 2015 when he appeared as a contestant and a firm fan-favourite (the Katya of season 7 of Ru Paul’s Drag Race if you will) on the first Australian season of I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! He may not have won the season, but like Katya, he won over scores of new fans and has gone on to even bigger and better things.
While his career success would be enough to fill an entire memoir on it’s own, in Thirsty: Confessions Of A Fame Whore, Joel opens up and shares a whole lot more. From his childhood days in Perth, to finding love at Mardi Gras to having baboon shit flung at him in Africa, Joel really opens up and offers an in-depth, behind the scenes look at his life – both personal and professional.
The book, like his comedy, is superbly written, funny and moves along at a crackling pace. There’s enough juicy behind the scenes drama and intimate insights into his love and sex life to satisfy everyone’s thirst.
Here are 6 things that I discovered while reading Thirsty. And don’t worry, I’m not one of those people to give away all the good stuff. There are some mild spoiler alerts ahead, but believe me, there is so much more good stuff to read in the book than what I’m sharing here. (In fact, I had to cut this review down. Originally I had planned to detail 18 interesting things I learned….but then I got hungry.)
I’m not even touching on the most buzz worthy or salacious stuff. I’ll leave that for more clickbait thirsty bloggers (kidding!) What I’m sharing here is the stuff that stood out for me. I think it’s interesting and insightful and shows that this is a really good book.
Whether you’re a huge fan of his, or have never heard of Joel before, Thirsty stands on its own as a brilliant memoir by one of Australia’s brightest comedic talents.
1 – He’s proudly and unabashedly Aussie (and I love that!)
When some Australian celebrities hit the big time, they undergo a weird deconstruction process of un-Australifying themselves. Basically, in an attempt to broaden their appeal beyond our shores, they develop fake hybrid accents (and in some cases, fake hybrid faces) in an attempt to become more US or UK-friendly.
Despite performing all over the world (including at prestigious, world renowned comedy festivals in Edinburgh and Montreal), Joel remains clearly and proudly Australian. This can clearly be seen throughout Thirsty which maintains a strong Aussie voice from beginning to end.
I love the fact that Joel hasn’t sold out in his unabashed pursuit of international stardom. Firstly, because it sucks to sell out in general. And secondly, he’s living proof that there’s no need to. Sure, international audiences might not get some of the references, but as Australians, we’re used to not getting every single US or UK reference. And somehow we manage to survive. It’s really not that big a deal.
I loved Joel’s use of Aussie words like quadrangle, wristie and Schappelle Corby. (For international readers: school oval, handjob and celebrity drug mule). But the great thing about Joel’s writing, is that there’s enough other (often hilarious) stuff going on, that you don’t miss out too much by not getting every single reference.
2 – He loves Kim Clijsters
Joel is not the sporting type. However, he loves tennis. In particular, female tennis. And in particular particular, he loves Kim Clijsters. Hailing from Belgium, Kim was a world ranked #1 player and hugely popular in Australia (at one point she was even engaged to Australian player Lleyton Hewitt).
To say that Joel was obsessed with Kim is kind of an understatement. He adored her. As luck would have it, Joel was actually a ball boy at the Hopman Cup in Perth where Kim was playing. On top of that, he actually got a chance to meet her and even speak briefly with her. I won’t reveal won’t tween-Joel said to Kim Clijsters, but it’s one of the funniest and most jaw dropping parts of the book (which is saying a lot!)
3 – His parents are awesome
It’s nice to read that Joel comes from a normal (meant in the good way), supportive and loving family. It challenges the idea that art needs pain. You can actually create genuinely funny shows and entertainment, and have been loved by both of your parents. It’s refreshing.
Both of Joel’s parents sound like the kind of people you’d love to have at a dinner party. They’re outgoing, worldly and love to drink. Before getting married and having kids, they had interesting lives and an array of really cool jobs (actors, models, dance instructors on cruise ships, that sort of thing).
What sold me on them though was finding out they they own a McDonald’s store in Perth! I know it’s not PC or cool to admit to liking McDonald’s, but I freaking love it. Sure, it’s a sometimes-food, but since childhood, anyone who’s ever dated me knows that the way to my heart is through a Big Mac meal.
On a more serious note, Joel’s parents Terry and Jenny have raised over $2 million dollars for Ronald McDonald’s House. This is an awesome charity that helps keep the families of sick children together during a really rough time in their lives.
The love and dedication Joel’s parents (as well as his sisters and closest groups of friends) have for him is really heartwarming. They fly around the world to be there for him as he achieves career milestone after milestone. His support network is truly amazing.
4 – He’s not immune to body image issues
Being gay is great. But it does come with a few complexities. Luckily, Joel always had the support of his amazing family and support network, so the gay thing was really no big deal.
But like pretty much any gay guy living in the digital age, Joel hasn’t been immune to having body image issues. In the book, Joel reveals that he has scoliosis. This means his spine is twisted, forcing his ribs to stick out the front of his body in an uneven and slightly odd looking way.
So while I’m sure many guys look at Joel and see a great looking guy, it’s reassuring to see that he has struggled with his appearance and fitting in to an incredibly appearance-focused culture (a double whammy really, being both gay and a celebrity) and coming out the other end, confidence and self-esteem in tact.
5 – He’s a natural entrepreneur
Joel’s set his sights on world domination through comedy, but it quickly becomes clear that he’s the kind of guy that would make anything he sets his mind to a success. He has a hard work ethic (his first job was at his parent McDonald’s so that’s probably got something to do with it), but just as importantly – he doesn’t sit around and wait for things to fall into his lap.
This can-do-anything approach came out of his somewhat awkward high school years. It’s one of my favourite passages in the book. I’ve returned to it a few times since finishing the book, because it encapsulates such a great attitude towards anything in life – work, friendships, fitness.
In a way, I thank my high school for being an uncomfortable fit for me because I learned an incredibly valuable lesson – create your own shit. If there’s nothing for you to, make something yourself. Make yourself an oppotunity and then fill it. And that’s exactly what I did.
From about grade 10 on, I decided that if most of these teachers didn’t give a shit about me, then I didn’t give a shit about them. So I busied myself either putting on shows, competing on the school mock trial team or working as the editor-in-chief of the student newspaper.
Is it any surprise that with an attitude like that, he won the Western Australian Young Business Person of the Year award?
This awesome approach also explains the success he’s achieved in his career. He didn’t wait for people to come and see him. Especially when he was starting out, he did whatever it took, however unglamourous (like say chalking the pavement in Melbourne), to draw attention to his show in order to get the biggest audience he could.
Clearly, that early dedication and do-whatever-it-takes approach to work has paid off.
6 – He loves being famous (in a good way)
OK, so the title of the book kind of gives that away. But I wasn’t sure how tongue-in-cheek that was, or whether Joel really does relish in fame. Turns out , he does – and in the best way possible.
In a celebrity culture where so many people seek fame, only to downplay it once they get it, Joel is refreshingly honest about it. He enjoys it. He knows that it’s something that comes part and parcel with what he does, and so he allows himself to have fun with it. He gets a thrill out of being recognised and taking a selfie with a fan.
As he explains, in Australia fame isn’t as intense or relentless as it is in the UK or US. Most Aussies are pretty chill, so most fan interactions are pretty laid back too. While I’m sure it must get repetitive and boring for him, it’s nice to hear Joel appreciate his fans.
And it’s an attitude that I think will hold him in good stead to turn what’s been an impressive start, into a legendary comedic career. He sums it up best when he writes:
It’s not lost on me that some people haven’t just paid for the ticket to my show; they’ve paid for parking, a babysitter, time off work, dinner beforehand and, in some, cases, flights and accomodation.
That is why I strive to never phone in a performance or not give my best, because I have been that person in the audience so many times growing up, admiring the people on the stage and thinking, ‘Fuck, I wish I could do that! They are so lucky!’
And now that I get to do it, I will never take it for granted.
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