Breaking: Josh Gondelman

One of the minds behind Modern Seinfeld on what the deal is with making a fool of yourself on the Internet.

BACKSTORY: Writer and comedian who works behind the scenes in television and onstage as a stand-up
FROM: Got his start at Brandeis University near Boston in 2004 before moving to New York City
YOU MIGHT KNOW HIM FROM: @SeinfeldToday, the Twitter account he created with Jack Moore that reimagines Seinfeld in the twenty-first century
NOW: Interpreting the news as a writer for Last Week Tonight with John Oliver and releasing his first book, You Blew It!—a guide to avoiding faux pas in the digital age

Comedian and writer Josh Gondelman recently tweetedI wish I had the work ethic for work that my dog has for naps;” like all great funny people, he’s got a flair for self-deprecation. In fact, Gondelman seems to always be busy: early in his career he balanced comedy with college, then with a job as a full-time preschool teacher.

These days, he juggles a similarly intense schedule, writing for John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight, cowriting a new book with Joe Berkowitz (You Blew It!: An Awkward Look at the Many Ways in Which You’ve Already Ruined Your Life), and maintaining a slate of stand-up dates. And oh yeah—along with his friend Jack Moore, he runs the “Modern Seinfeld” Twitter account, which has racked up a modest 865,000 followers.

The Twitter account started simply enough, stemming from Gondelman and Moore’s love of the ’90s sitcom. “The characters are so vivid that it’s very easy to say, ‘How would George Costanza ruin a Snapchat?’ or, ‘What would Kramer’s interaction with a Banksy exhibition be like?’ The potential for it to be fun for us was never ending, because there’s always new stuff happening,” Gondelman says. “I think so much of the success of the Twitter accountand the way we’ve been able to make it resonate with people who liked the showlies in how distinctive [the characters are] and what a permanent impression Seinfeld made on people. It’s definitely a ‘shoulders of giants’ situation.”

The idea is that even when your life is really good, everything is kind of a complicated nightmare.

Part of what made Seinfeld great—and which powers @SeinfeldToday—is the minutiae of discomfort. So it makes sense that You Blew It! is ostensibly a guide to how to ruin your life,” Gondelman laughs. “It’s all the little picky points of life that are going to be hard. The idea is that even when your life is really good, everything is kind of a complicated nightmare.”

Gondelman is drawn to collaboration, and You Blew It! was written with his friend, the writer Joe Berkowitz. “I like working collaboratively,” he says, “because I always have stand-up as an opportunity to be a weird lone wolf and take complete ownership. So it’s nice to also get to work on projects that are bigger than myself.”  

The writers came up with potential disaster scenarios for the book—things like dealing with the friends of significant others and terrible trips home for Thanksgiving.

“Notwithstanding the actual horror of the world,” he says, Gondelman and Berkowitz focus in on familiar social minefields: group texts, hitting reply all when you meant to just hit reply. “It kind of started out as an up-to-date etiquette guide for how to live in the modern world,” Gondelman says, “Or how not to.” FL

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