Emmy-Award winning writer and comedian Josh Gondelman’s collection of personal stories of best intentions and mixed results.
Josh Gondelman knows a thing or two about trying—and failing. The Emmy Award-winning stand-up comic—dubbed a “pathological sweetheart” by the New York Observer—is known throughout the industry as one of comedy’s true “nice guys.” Not surprisingly, he’s endured his share of last-place finishes. But he keeps on bouncing back.
In this collection of hilarious and poignant essays (including his acclaimed New York Times piece “What if I Bombed at My Own Wedding?”), Josh celebrates a life of good intentions—and mixed results. His true tales of romantic calamities, professional misfortunes, and eventual triumphs reinforce the notion: we get out of the world what we put into it. Whether he’s adopting a dog from a suspicious stranger, mitigating a disastrous road trip, or trying MDMA for the first (and only) time, Josh only wants the best for everyone—even as his attempts to do the right thing occasionally implode.
Full of the warm and relatable humor that’s made him a favorite on the comedy club circuit, Nice Try solidifies Josh Gondelman’s reputation as not just a good guy, but a skilled observer of the human condition.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Being Mr. Nice Guy isn’t easy, and nobody knows that better than Josh Gondelman, a comedian with an almost pathological compulsion to treat people kindly. In a collection of essays that are both unabashedly personal and unendingly hilarious, Gondelman looks back at his life, zooming in on the times when his meek, mild manner butted up against the world in awkward-but-memorable ways. Childhood pranks, dating, marriage, and life on the road are all fodder for Gondelman’s geeky and endearing stories. With its heaping helping of wit, Nice Try reminds us that the key to happiness is refusing to take yourself too seriously.
Gondelman, a comedian and writer for Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, debuts with a collection of funny and sweet personal essays. Gondelman self-deprecatingly describes himself as having a "wet paint personality, bright and shiny and vulnerable to the elements." He used to be a nice kid, and now he's a nice grown-up: "When you're outwardly nice, people assume you're a pushover, which in my case is fair because I am one." The book moves entertainingly through the stages of his life. In "Screech," he addresses his uncool high school years and the time he "tried to grow an Afro, which came off kind of like accessorizing an old, beat-up car by gluing a satellite dish to the roof." He discusses failed relationships ("A Worthy Adversary"); his stint as a preschool teacher ("Weathering the Tantrums"); his struggles to become a stand-up comedian and TV writer ("Gap Years"); and his love for his wife ("Tickle Me Fancy") and dog ("Bizzy"). Gondelman's chops as a comedy writer are on full display throughout, and his observations are hilariously spot-on: toddlers are "tiny, inconsolable war widows," and his pug is "a loaf of white bread with a face." Gondelman's fun, witty book is a marvel of emotional depth and cutting one-liners.