"With all the moxie of an RSL barmaid and the library card of a research fellow, Nelly Thomas has emerged to talk about nothing slighter than the trials of her generation... She's erudite, earthy and entirely unemployable." Helen Razer, The Age Newspaper
Nelly started out in comedy in 2002 after a number of years working in the welfare and education sectors. She fell into comedy accidentally after stumbling across the Jeez Louise Funny Women's Forum via a friend, where she was spotted by a talent agent and booked for a gig. A few months later she entered the Triple J Raw Comedy Competition and beat over 800 aspiring hopefuls from around Australia to win the National Grandfinal. Less than six months after never having thought of being a comedian - and at the ripe old age of 28 - Nelly found herself doing a show at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland.
She's been on stage ever since.
Nelly has been performing at comedy clubs, festivals, pubs and corporate events for fifteen years. In that time, she's toured Australia several times, done a number stints overseas, established her own Melbourne comedy room and played hundreds of gigs and festivals. She is renowned MC and speaker and is known for the respectful and intelligent humour she brings to all topics.
In addition to her own shows, Nelly has also directed some award-winning comedians - including Maria Bamford (right), Candy B and Stella Young - and produced shows for the likes of Rod Quantock and Andrea Powell (aka Ethel Chop).
Nelly is a published author of one book, the proud creator of one DVD and is currently working on two children's books. She is a regular guest on ABC Radio, pops up on the telly and writes extensively in the print and online media. She is currently a columnist for New Matilda.
In addition, Nelly has forged a career different to most, having found a specialist niche in health promotion and social change comedy. In 2016, she was announced as the Official Ambassador for Jean Hailes for Women's Health - Australia's leading women's health organisation. She accepted this role with great pride.
Prior to becoming a comedian, Nelly worked in the education and welfare sectors and now relishes the opportunity to combine her passion for social justice and health promotion with humour.
She has written highly successful and lauded comedy shows on topics as varied as adolescent sexual health (The Condom Dialogues), respectful relationships (No Means No Show - see right), Indigenous smoking (No Smokes, No Joke) and mental health (Mentally Funny) and is regularly asked to speak and MC at events about subjects as difficult and varied as such as Family Violence, Child Protection, Gender Equity and the like. She is particularly known for her expert MCing skills in these areas which require great sensitivity as well as time and people management.
As Nelly's Testimonials show, her clients find that her wealth of experience on stage, combined with her respectful but irreverent tone, make conferences and events more enjoyable and professional for all concerned.
Pleasantly Furious, 2014, Melbourne International Comedy Festival
I Coulda Been a Sailor, 2010, Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Directed by Justin Hamilton
Nelly Thomas is not a Yummy Mummy, 2008, Melbourne International Comedy Festival
Family Ties, Nelly Thomas, 2006, Melbourne International Comedy Festival (nominated for the Golden Gibbo Award) & Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Directed by Andrea Powell.
Political Asylum, 2009 – present, Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Starring Aamer Rahman, Matthew Keneally, Nazeem Hussain, Stella Young, Rod Quantock, Nelly Thomas and many more.
Mother of the Year, Melbourne International Comedy Festival, 2009, starring Nelly Thomas, Catherine Deveny & Christine Basil
Comedy Zone, Melbourne International Comedy Festival, 2004, Starring Cal Wilson, Nelly Thomas, Steve Sheean, Marcus Ryan and Sammy J.
Betty Blues: A Comedy Show about Depression, 2004, Melbourne Fringe Festival, By Nelly Thomas and featuring Toby Sullivan, Jill Peakock, Sam Simmons & Natalie Michelle Smith.
Raw Prawns, 2004, Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Starring Nelly Thomas, Steve Sheehan, Josh Makinda and Marcus Ryan.
Hair Supply, 2003, Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Starring Nelly Thomas, Carolyn Chillura and Mandy Hampson
The Talk Live, A comedy show for parents and carers about how to talk to teens about sex and healthy relationships. Based on Nelly's groundbreaking DVD of the same name.
The No Means No Show, A comedy show for teens about safe and respectful sex and relationships. Developed with an advisory committee with representatives from the Centre Against Sexual Assault, No to Violence and the Royal Women's Hospital.
Condom Dialogues, A comedy show for teens about safe sex. Developed with the Royal Women's Hospital.
Being a Woman is Good for Your Health, A comedy show for adult women about physical and mental health.
Mentally Funny, A comedy show about mental health, resilience and staying well.
No Smokes, No Joke, A comedy show for Indigenous Australians about quitting smoking. Developed with the Victorian Aboriginal Health Service and starring Kevin Kropinyeri, Dawn & Denise McGuinness and Jason Tamiru.
Tales from the Crip, 2014, Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Written and Performed by Stella Young, Directed by Nelly Thomas. (Winner: Best Newcomer Award)
Plan B, 2005, Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Written and Performed by Maria Bamford, Directed by Nelly Thomas.
Who’s That Chic?, 2012, Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Written and Performed by Candy B & Busty Beats, Directed by Nelly Thomas.
Everything Must Go, 2011, Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Written and Performed by Rachel Leary, Directed by Damian Callinan, Assistant Director - Nelly Thomas.
The Comedy Zone, 2008, Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Starring Josh Makinda, Jack Druce, Lila Tilman and Jacques Barrett, Directed by Nelly Thomas.
Regular guest on Radio National Australia segment What I Learned from the News This Week, 2014 – present.
Regular guest and co-host on ABC Radio 774 Melbourne and Victoria, 2007 – present.
Regular appearances on The Comedy Channel and special appearances on ABC, SBS, Channel 31 and Channel 10 TV, 2003 – present.
Former Co-host and now special regular guest of “BoxCutters” television podcast.
Regular guest columnist in a variety of magazines and newspapers.
Book: What Women Want, by Nelly Thomas, Random House in 2012.
Book: Yours Truly: Women of Letters, Curated by Marieke Hardy and Michaela Maguire, with contributions by Annabelle Crabbe, Eva Cox, Megan Washington, Amanda Palmer, Nelly Thomas and many more, Penguin, 2013.
Glorious Baaaastards, written by the performers and writers from Ilbijerri Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Theatre Company with Nelly Thomas, Directed by Rachel Maza-Long.
A Black Sheep Walked into a Baaaa, written by the performers and writers from Ilbijerri Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Theatre Company with Nelly Thomas, Directed by Rachel Maza-Long
The Talk DVD, a sexual health and ethics DVD for teens and their parents, released with Hopscotch Films and Dirty Work Comedy in 2011
Nelly has done hundreds of gigs over the years in festivals, comedy clubs and at private and corporate events. Highlights include performing at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival Club, touring Australia on Roadshow and performing as part of UpFront and Birds on the Bill.
Corporate clients include: The Royal Women’s Hospital, the Gawler Foundation, Positive Women, Amnesty International, Nandos, CRANA, Department of Human Services, Women’s Health West, Women’s Health in the North, Westfield Shopping Centres, PANDA, CASA, Office for the Status of Women, The Child Safety Commissioner and many more.
Winner: National Raw Comedy Competition
Directed Barry Award Winning US comedian Maria Bamford
Directed Best Newcomer Stella Young
2 seasons at the Edinburgh Fringe
10 seasons at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival
Being listed as one of Australia’s “most innovative thinkers” in The Age Newspaper’s, The Zone
COMEDY WORK WITH YOUNG PEOPLE
Facilitator, Class Clowns:
Each year the Melbourne International Comedy Festival (MICF) runs workshops with young people all over Australia who are interested in becoming comedians. Nelly has designed and facilitated these workshops on behalf of the MICF all over Australia, including most recently in rural Victoria and Alice Springs.
Comedy Mentor, Risky Business:
Risky Business is an Australian Research Council project auspiced by the University of Melbourne School of Creative Arts. It aims to divert young people from high risk-taking behaviour by getting them involved in the arts. Nelly was employed as an artistic mentor along with Rod Quantock and Brian Nankervis to assist the young people to write and perform a short comedy piece.
The Condom Dialogues and the No Means No Show:
In 2005 Nelly was commissioned by the Royal Women's Hospital to put together a show about safe sex for young people called The Condom Dialogues. This highly successful show has now toured all over the country. She was then asked to do another show about consent and sexual assault, also for young people called The No Means No Show which has also played to packed houses and toured the country. The No Means No show has been commended a number of times, most notably in 'A Right to Respect: Victoria’s Plan to Prevent Violence against Women 2010-2020'. and also during a speech by former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd on White Ribbon Day.
AWARDS AND ACHIEVEMENTS
Being listed as one of Australia’s “most innovative thinkers” in The Age Newspaper’s, The Zone in 2011.
Writing her first book, What Women Want, Random House, 2012.
Making The Talk DVD - a sexual health and ethics DVD for teens and their parents, released with Hopscotch Films and Dirty Work Comedy in 2011
Squeezing out two human babies
Being awarded a federal grant to expand the No Means No Show
Winner, National Grandfinal: Raw Comedy (2003)
Nominee, The Golden Gibbo Award for innovative comedy
Volunteer Mentor - ASISTA Mentoring and Friendship Program for Young Women “at risk”