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Nice Try: Stories of Best Intentions and Mixed Results

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  581 ratings  ·  89 reviews
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’
ebook, 272 pages
Published September 17th 2019 by Harper Perennial
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Average rating 3.89  · 
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 ·  581 ratings  ·  89 reviews

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I'm biased. But I think it is perfect.
Sep 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Okay so, full disclosure: I know Josh Gondelman. This isn’t a humblebrag or starfuckery or a way to inflate my own stature in the world because I happen to know an Emmy-winning comedian/writer.

I say it because most of this book exudes niceness, a quality too many of us conflate with being wishy-washy or bland. I told a friend of mine he was nice once and he took it as an insult. I don’t think Josh would take it as an insult.

He actually addresses his niceness right up front, setting the stage
Oct 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
Josh Gondelman's book was a very pleasant read. I stress-bought it after getting lost on the way to a new gynecologist's office, and because I was bored while reading White Fragility. I'm not sure what that says about me.

I'm often perplexed when someone talks about a humor book making them laugh out loud. Because...are they lying? I find it extremely rare that any funny book can make me literally LOL. Josh's book was funny and nice, and he seems like a good person, and he and Maris are the
Jan 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
This book made me feel not lonely when I was home sick on New Year’s Eve. It speaks truth in hilarious ways and reminds me a lot of myself (but I’m not as funny).
Shelley Gibbs
Oct 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Thoughtful, charming, wise, observant, full of heart & laugh out loud hilarious.
Stephanie Griffin
I have no idea how this got on my library holds list. After listening to it, I’m still perplexed. Not much is funny (exception is the bit about teaching preschool). All the pop culture references seem to be 20 to 30 years old. I’m not recommending this book.
Aug 21, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A sweet and funny book of personal essays (and lists) about being the type of person who worries a lot and tends to give everyone the benefit of the doubt (even sketchy dudes giving you a dog and the Patriots bc your grandma was a fan). Standout pieces include “You Don’t Know, Now You Know” (becoming a rap fan), “The Thanksgiving Dragon”, “The Three True Stories of How We Met” (awwww ), and “Bizzy” (y’all, if you don’t follow @bizzythepug on IG well, your life has less snorty, pizza-begging pugs ...more
Sophie Brookover
Dec 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Easily one of my favorites of the year: funny, warm, introspective, and menschy as hell. I read this on audiobook & I’d recommend that format to any prospective reader. Thanks to his background in standup, Gondelman is a delightful performer of his own material. If you like this, his album Dancing On A Weeknight is streaming & well worth a listen, too!
Nov 17, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobooks
Nice try, yeah, but the results are not mixed, they are mediocre and also dull. No, seriously tell me who needs one more personal story of a guy, some comedian this time, telling you about his boring school life, his moving to New York, his bachelors apartment, and then - how he fell in love with his wife, how much he loves her still, how cool was is grandmother, because they shared love for sports, how he adopted an old dog - very Nobel gesture and surprise, surprise - he hates Trump, thinks he ...more
Oct 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book despite my (self-destructive?) kink being reading self absorbed memoirs by white people. Josh is well aware of his privilege as a straight white male and he wants to make the world a better place though even I draw the line at essays on football and sneakers, I am more of a flip-flop kinda gal.

With metaphors that are David Sedaris perfect and some stories that didnt turn out to be the way I expected, this was a good book from Mr Maris Karizman (author of my favorite
Cheryl Klein
Nov 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoirs
Gondelman is more of a hip-hop guy, but he would probably agree with the witch in Into the Woods when she says "Nice is different than good." He dissects the difference in his quest to become the latter, noting "Niceness is only enough under the best possible conditions. It relies on having adults in your life looking out for you, and on not facing prejudice." His humorous essays are smart and funny, the kind of light read that nevertheless makes you think.
Jessica Daniels
Nov 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I love Josh! I am a frequent requester of his Twitter pep talks and I loved reading about how he came up with the idea. He is funny and self-deprecating and also really really awesome. I grew up so cynical and for a long time snarky bad attitudes seemed to be the "it" thing, but it's actually really nice to be nice. It feels good to give and to receive niceties. Snarky sarcasm is exhausting, but sincere kindness gives me life. I so appreciate reading about Josh's kindness, the part he comes by ...more
Megan Sanks
Oct 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This was honestly probably the funniest book I read all year. Each essay had at least one line I immediately wanted to tell Miranda, but mostly I just want everyone to read this so we can laugh about it all together. I related to a lot of what Josh talked about!

Samantha Irby was spot on when she said, "Josh Gondelman is a human cardigan and this book is like a warm, consensual hug."
Feb 02, 2020 added it
Shelves: by-ears
I enjoyed this book more than I expected to. It felt like he enjoyed reading it out loud, which I often wonder about with people who read their own books for audio books. I related to a lot of it, and appreciated the reflections and range of topics. I needed the chance to feel more hopeful, and this book delivered.
Dan Wilbur
Jan 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“Even the Zodiac killer was polite enough to remember to leave a note after he did a murder.”
Oct 16, 2019 added it
I found this to be relatable and funny. I laughed and cried and actually finished a book for the first time in what feels like months (maybe only three weeks but that’s a long time for me)
Andrea Lagdameo
I love this book and I now to be a better person

This was such a nice read. I literally laughed out loud so many times and also felt warmth and sincere happiness in most parts. This book has inspired me to be a better person and to believe that things will always get better.
Ken Heard
Nov 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I am culturally deprived, so I didn't know who Josh Gondelman was. But after reading Nice Try, I have become a fan.

The essays in his book center around being the Nice Guy and the troubles that ensue with it. Women, other people, success, job, strangers on the street, parents, etc., are all part of Josh's world and his way of being nice and respectful.

A lot of times, comedians' books are just written to set up jokes. However, Gondleman is an excellent writer and the prose is as enjoyable as the
Nov 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
never heard of him before, but now I'll keep an eye out for his stand-up or other writings. Extremely funny set of essays/stories about his growing up, his life after moving from outside Boston to New York, his times on the road as a comic, how he met his wife, etc. On the face of it, nothing really amazing or even sounding terribly promising [e.g., i'm not a dog person and would not have anticipated that the tale of how he and his wife got their dog would be a page turner for me].

Don't feel
Oct 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
Josh Gondelman has the distinction of being the sole exception to my moratorium on going to straight white guys' shows at my local comedy club (a decision that looks better and better by the day). I've seen his standup twice and I love it.

This book pulls a lot from his comedy, which is great, though of course it's not as dense with jokes. He's earnest and sweet but not saccharine or boring, and his book comes across as a very honest expression of his personality, which seems like a lot of fun to
Sep 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
It seems like everyone who's ever met Josh Gondelman thinks he's the sweetest guy on the face of the earth. This book will do nothing to change their opinions. He's hilarious as well as cheerful and optimistic and seems to genuinely enjoy making people happy. (He literally used to be a preschool teacher!) So I really enjoyed this collection of autobiographical essays. Like me, he had a fairly mundane childhood in the Boston suburbs, so a lot of what he wrote about growing up was familiar to me. ...more
Dec 14, 2019 rated it it was ok
This book was nice (like the author according to himself) but I only gave it 2 stars because I really hate in memoir/essay books when the author repeats information that they already told us. I don't know if these books aren't edited in the same way or if there is an expectation that the reader is not paying attention but it's really annoying to me. In this book it happened several times but the worst was there were two chapters about his grandmother, the first about her funeral and the second ...more
Clint Ryan
Jan 30, 2020 rated it liked it
One of last years Jólabókaflóðið books gifted by my father in law, I had no expectations and no idea who josh Gondelman is.

“Nice Try” is a witty trip down memory lane, with Josh retelling awkward stories from his childhood to recent marriage.

While we couldn’t have been raised more differently, I found this highly relatable and experienced very similar moments in my upbringing. I guess everyone was awkward and weird growing up! A hip hop nerd and sneaker head, Josh brings witty anecdotes that
Jul 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
I want familiar with the authors work until I read this book and now I want to. I saw him at a signing at a library conference and they were serving red wine in line. I’m in! Josh was nice and I saw him kindly talking to fans before it even got started (when I was walking by, not committing to getting this book).

The book is really fun to read! The first chapters are about Josh’ nice guy reputation. It made sense! He gives you his opinions in stories but not in a way trying to convince you to
Evan Barden
Oct 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book so much. Josh's essays all have heart, humility, and of course, the third and most important H: humor. As a fellow Boston-area suburban it born in the 80's, I found all of his stories to be wonderfully relatable and familiar. But Josh also does a great (and funny) job of giving everyone the context they need for each of these tales, even if they didn't grow up with a Dunks at every major intersection.
Craig Dickson
Nov 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was good, a collection of funny and kind essays by the comedian Josh Gondelman. I like him and think he's funny, so I was happy to find that I liked his book and found it funny too.

A pretty light read in general, although not without depth, it's ultimately a humour book. I enjoyed it a lot though, and did at a couple of points get some looks on the S Bahn for unsuccessfully stifling my real-life LOLZ. So it was good!
Ryan Young
Nov 08, 2019 rated it did not like it
Mixed his life story with current politics. I am ashamed at your claim to be better than most people yet wish to punch people in the face and protest by flipping off those in Authority. That is not how Dr. king, Harriet Tubbman nor Rosa Parks handled things. Perhaps a page out of their lives stories would do you some good.
Feb 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
I listened to the audiobook version and you really get a sense of the author’s personality. This book inspires me to do more and be a better person. I like that he is always on the lookout to help others. The Twitter pep talks are my favorite quotable quotes from this book. I laughed out loud in some places but mostly this book gave me a warm glow of happiness.
Jaime F.
Ugh, what a waist of my time this book was. Was it a memoir intended to be funny? Because it wasn't.
While I was reading this book I even had to look on YouTube about Josh Gondelman's stand up, and even that was very mild for my taste.
Sorry, I just couldn't get into his ramblings and anecdotes. It might work for YOU!
Sep 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir, audiobook
Josh and I have a striking number of similarities including, but not limited to: being the exact same age, growing up in small town Massachusetts, being anxious, wearing JNCOs in high school because they were cool, and, hopefully, being generally nice people. I loved this book mostly because I felt like Josh and I would probably have been friends growing up, and I like that.
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