On the Couch with Josh Cake

MFF23-Josh-Cake-photo-by-Nick-RobertsonWho is Josh Cake?
I am Josh Cake! I tell jokes and sing songs containing jokes. I go by any pronouns. My adjectives are earnest and chaotic.

I eat cake for breakfast every day. I have artworks of cakes on the walls of my house. I care a lot about snacks. I have the internal monologue of a labrador. Wherever I am, whatever is happening, all I am thinking is: how do I turn this situation into treats?

(The way I turn this interview into treats is: if you read it and buy tickets to my show, I can spend that money at a bakery.)

What would you do differently from what you do now?
Sometimes when I arrive at a gig, I realise that I am way too early and that I definitely could have stopped for chippies along the way. I remember and regret every single one of these occasions.

Who inspires you and why?
I’m in love with Garfield. I want to be him and I want to be with him.

I am inspired by many artists whom I have not met, including James Acaster, Elf Lyons, Emily Dickinson, and Tom Lehrer (he is dead so he will stay on this list of unknowns).

I am inspired by so many artists I know. I am obsessed with the ways in which Emilie Collyer, Tim Loveday, Thabani Tshuma, Blake Everett, and Oliver Coleman push the boundaries of form, by the joyful chaotic commitment to silliness of Frankie McNair, Maddy Weeks, and Lauren Bok, and by the concise whimsy of geniuses such as Erin Michelle, Georgia Kartas, and Grace Jarvis.

I am also heavily influenced the Muppets. I would be a great fit for their company.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
I always have little cakes and biscuits and snacks on me at festivals so I’m good at providing treats for my fellow artists.

We’re trying to build a happy, safe world! The work of activism can be really funny and enjoyable! I have a strong sense of joy at the root of my understanding of liberation. I share that with others, and it feels good when I can help other people to be their most free and happy selves.

I don’t like it when people feel restricted by cruel structures (I call them scams), whether those are gender norms or racial borders or diet culture, and I encourage everyone to feel true, unfettered, and free to enjoy all the treats that they want.

When I was touring last year, I met a Queenslander who had one of my punchlines, “I will be soup”, tattooed on his arm as a reminder to bring his whole self everywhere he goes. That felt like I’m probably doing something right.

Favourite holiday destination and why?
One of my favourite bakeries in the world is Savini, located in Siena, Italy. The word “mimosa” can mean so many things, from plants to cocktails, but in this establishment, it means a syrup-drenched sponge cake filled with cream. I’ve been to Siena three times and that mimosa is my favourite treat.

Siena also hosts my favourite markets with delights ranging from fresh local tomatoes to batter-fried mozzarella  sandwiches. I’ve had so many heavenly culinary experiences at restaurants, bars, and homes in that town, but a memory that stands out is the autumn equinox.

As Siena bids farewell to the tourists of summer, every gelateria closes its doors for the coldest months. This means that they need to empty their stocks. I have a fond memory of being an 18-year old student skipping across the medieval cobblestones with my mates, spreading the news that today was free gelato day.

We felt like town criers with the best news ever. We added more and more people to our procession, from other students to homeless people to whoever just happened to follow us, and we devoured cones and thickshakes from every gelato vendor in the city until we felt very, very ill. It was one of the best days of my life.

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take them to, and why?
It depends on their preference in treats! Last week, I had friends visiting from rural Victoria who like cocktails, so I took them to Eau de Vie and showed them the intrigue of the hidden doors as well as the stunning skill of the bartenders. I had a sesame and whisky cocktail that warmed me thoroughly on a rainy night.

I’m a big fan of a crawl around several venues, such as night out in Fitzroy that ends at the Shady Lady, then ends again at the Old Bar, then ends a third time at someone’s house, or a night out in Footscray that ends at Bar Josephine, then ends again at Pride, then ends a third time at someone’s house.

What are you currently reading?
My friends will tell you that I cannot read. Despite this, I am currently enjoying How To Feed A Dictator by the journalist Witold Szablowski. He interviewed the personal chefs of celebrity bad boys such as Saddam Hussein and Pol Pot, providing an insight into their lives through the eyes of their cooks.

What are you currently listening to?
Sammy Rae & The Friends, Taylor Swift, Bruce Springsteen, Alex Lahey, Couch, Corinne Bailey Rae, Hozier, George Ezra, Penelope Scott, MARINA, Jacqui Lumsden, Ella Fitzgerald. That was all today.

Happiness is?
When you’ve completed a fulfilling day of work with people you love, and you all know that you gave your audience a great show that was worth their time and made a difference to them, and now you’re getting treats and laughing together. Plus you’re having ideas for the next thing you’re going to make together!

What does the future hold for you?
I am going to keep telling jokes and singing funny songs so I can keep having treats! I have six weeks left of my lease in Melbourne, and then I’m going to tour the world. My first stop is Paris, and my intended destinations include Venice, Marrakech, Prague, Berlin, London, Edinburgh, San Francisco, and New York. There are so many bakeries! I’m excited.

Josh has created and performs in Gender is a Scam and I am Winning – which is currently playing at the Festival Hub: Trades Hall – Corner Store, as part of the 2023 Melbourne Fringe Festival, until 22 October. For more information, visit: www.melbournefringe.com.au for details.

Image: Josh Cake – photo by Nick Robertson