Idyllwild Arts senior musical theater major Josh Thomas is the next presenter at Idy Talks, the IA series designed to acquaint village residents with promising and prominent academy students. Photo courtesy Josh Thomas

Budding comedy writer and late-night host next at Idy Talks

Granted, Idyllwild Arts senior Josh Thomas is only 17. But he has had the same dream since he was 8, and piece by piece his dream is coming together. “I’ve just wanted to be a ‘Saturday Night Live’ cast member and a late-night television host,” he said.

Granted, too, Josh is funny, quirky and charismatic, but then so are many who try to climb the show-business ladder. But there is something about Josh’s determination, his fastidious planning, his note taking from shows he’s attended, what he’s learned from comics and late-night hosts he scrutinizes, and how he conceptualizes and executes the succeeding iterations of “The Josh Thomas Show,” that make it seem likely he will ascend that ladder, with panache and humor to spare.

As a freshman at Idyllwild Arts, this La Jolla native presented the first edition of “The Josh Thomas Show” in the lobby of Bowman Theatre on the IA campus. Four people attended.

Undeterred, he kept at it in succeeding years. “Last year, I took a big risk with my show,” he recounted. “I invited 150 people, booked Stephens Hall, put together a crew of 15, had a house band, an announcer, a warm-up guy, lighting and a screen projecting clips for the audience. I wore a dark blue suit with a salmon-colored tie. I envisioned myself as a 35-year-old on TV and thought, ‘I’m just going to live it.’”

He had set up 100 chairs hoping that maybe 30 or 40 might come. He worried that no one would come. Instead, every seat got filled, there was standing-room only and many people were turned away at the door.

Check one on his ladder upward.

He took the show to San Diego, booked a studio and invited a comedienne he thinks is sensational to be part of the show. Two days after getting the invite, Trailer Trash Tammy (aka Chelcie Lynn) called Josh and said she’d be there. Thinking again he’d be lucky to have a small audience, he said 400 attended the June 10 show. He thought many of them were likely Lynn’s fans. After the show, Lynn said to Josh, “You did all this at 17? You’re going to go far. You don’t have ‘it,” you have ‘that,’ which is a lot bigger. I can’t wait to see what you will do. And remember, don’t forget me.”

Check two on his career ladder.

Josh has his ascent planned out. Next rung was to get into his first-choice, post- Idyllwild school. He very recently got his acceptance letter from Columbia College in Chicago, his first choice. Columbia is a liberal arts college specializing in arts and media disciplines. Josh intends to study comedy writing and continue to live “The Josh Thomas Show.”

Check three on his ladder upward.

Future rungs include appearing with Second City in Chicago, becoming an SNL cast member and hosting a late-night television show. Stay tuned.

Josh’s mission is to entertain. “I have this weird ability to adjust to the age of an individual or an audience — to make them laugh,” he said. “They can be 3 or 103, and I can find a way.”

After meeting his TV idol, Conan O’Brien, and sharing his own story, Josh recalled advice O’Brien gave him. “If you are nice to people and you do nice things, you’ll go far,” said O’Brien.

At Idy Talks, Josh will do what he does — entertain. He will try to make you smile. And what’s wrong with that? It will be a clip from “The Josh Thomas Show.” Check it out.

For a preview of this young entertainer’s career, attend Idy Talks at 6 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 6, at the Town Gallery. There is no cost to attend this Idyllwild Arts series.

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