Josh Gondelman: The Importance Of Being Nice
Josh Gondelman is often described as the "nicest man in comedy." His interview with NPR's Ask Me Another host Ophira Eisenberg illuminated exactly how nice and enthusiastic he can be. In their conversation at the Bell House in Brooklyn, New York, Gondelman notes there have been moments in his life where he's been less than nice (or "snappy," as he put it) with strangers. But, he conceded that he's not good at being mean, admitting "it's so humiliating when I try to be unkind."
Gondelman first garnered attention as a comic in New York, and with his work co-running the parody Twitter account Modern Seinfeld(@SeinfeldToday), which imagined storylines of the popular sitcom's characters if the show was set in the present day. On his personal Twitter account, Gondelman offers pep talks to friends and strangers who tweet at him with stories or personal struggles they want to discuss. "I'm not qualified to solve those problems," he explained about these interactions. "But, I can say that probably something good will happen in the future. Your father can only die once."
Gondelman estimated he's been doing these pep talks regularly for six or seven years, inspired, in part, because he was in a "rough place personally" and in need of some kindness from others. "But instead of asking for that," Gondelman said, "maybe someone else feels the way I do, and I can do something for them that will make them feel a little better, and then I will feel commensurately better."
Gondelman's notable social media presence also helped launch his subsequent job on Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, first producing original web content, then becoming a writer on the show's second season. In his five years on the show, Gondelman collected three Emmys and two Peabodys, before transitioning to a new job as supervising producer and writer for the Showtime weekly late-night talk show Desus & Mero, which puts a Bronx perspective on news and culture.
"They're the best," Gondelman said of hosts Desus Nice and The Kid Mero. "I mean, John [Oliver] is also the best. But they're also the best." Gondelman described working on Desus & Mero as almost the complete tonal "opposite" of his previous job. "Truly my media diet went from watching Frontline documentaries in my office with my headphones in and just, like, weeping softly at my old job," Gondelman joked, "...And now it's a lot of, like, 'Well, let's see what's new on WorldStarHipHop today."
Gondelman is also an accomplished stand-up with three comedy albums: Everything's The Best, Physical Whisper, and his most recent, Dancing On A Weeknight. And he's set to release a new book of collected essays in Sept. 2019, titled Nice Try: Stories of Best Intentions and Mixed Results. This new project, Gondelman quipped, "is literally the story of my life."
Gondelman's Ask Me Another challenge was inspired by his family's tradition of eating Klondike bars before Boston Bruins hockey games. Gondelman played against Catherine Cohen in a game of two truths and a lie: sports superstition edition.