“If you only read one book in your life, it probably shouldn’t be this one. However, if you’re not operating an inexplicable one-book policy, these stories are funny, touching, and more than worth your time.” — John Oliver
“Josh Gondelman is one of the most original hilarious voices out there today. This book will hook you and make you laugh and laugh.” — Amy Schumer
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.
Josh Gondelman is a comedian and writer who has earned two Peabody Awards, three Emmys, and two WGA Awards for his work on Last Week Tonight with John Oliver on HBO. He is currently a writer/producer for Desus & Mero on Showtime. In the past, Josh has written for Billy on the Street. His writing has also appeared in the New York Times, New York magazine, and the New Yorker. He lives in New York City with his wife and pug.
Table of Contents
If at First You Don't Succeed …
Nice Guys Finish Dessert Last 3
Just Give Me a Minute 10
A Few of My Greatest Fears, in No Particular Order 22
A Technicality 29
You Don't Know, Now You Know 30
Things That Make Me Feel Grown-Up (in Order of Increasing Adulthood) 47
A Worthy Adversary 48
The Present-Tense Conjugation of the Spanish Verb Nadar, Which Means "to Swim" 60
I Hope These Years Aren't the Best of Your Lives 68
It Was Funny at the Time 74
Don't Aim, Just Throw 76
…Try, Try Again
Weathering the Tantrums 91
The Thanksgiving Dragon 103
Some Things That I, a Childcare Professional, Was Professionally Obligated to Say to Kids 108
Good Deeds, Unrewarded 109
Have Fun 116
The Blank Postcard 123
Things I Have Tried (with Varying Degrees of Success) at the Behest of Women I Was Dating at the Time or to Whom I Am Married 142
Good Will Hunting Isn't Science Fiction 143
Sorry, Not Sorry 145
Gap Years 154
Third Time's a Charm?
The Three True Stories of How We Met 163
Fish Tacos 176
Tickle Me Fancy 179
A Good Game 185
The Unsung Virtue of Telling People What They Want to Hear 198
An Element of Style 207
A Partial List of Names I Call My Dog, Whose Real Name Is Bizzy 229