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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Brandeis alum Gondelman releases comedy album

Published: November 4, 2011
Section: Arts, Etc.

With each and every track, Brandeis alum Josh Gondelman’s new comedy album “Everything’s The Best,” to be officially released Nov. 8, is a wonderful and attention-grabbing experience.

The album features smart, modern humor that people from all walks of life will find amusing and relatable. Much of the routine is drawn from Gondelman’s own experiences, particularly in his day job as a preschool teacher, but still remains relevant. “Everything’s the Best” creates a wonderful portrait of a comedian through a brilliant routine that listeners will find highly relatable and entertaining.

What first struck me was the infectious laughter in Gondelman’s voice. It spreads rapidly through the audience from the very first punch line, and it remains a constant presence throughout the routine.

Throughout the album, Gondelman utilizes the best kind of humor: he makes fun of the things he enjoys. Touching on movies, sports, the exploits of his students and the humorous happenings of his own life, he crafts an album in which things are made fun of with the utmost love. He easily weaves references and broad cultural opinions into his own stories and jokes, making the album as personal as it is relatable.

For example, at one point, Grondelman pokes fun at homophobia by expressing his own desire for a lesbian daughter: It would, at least, rule out a teenage pregnancy. This creates a wonderfully good-natured tone throughout the album that makes the experience all the more entertaining because, on the part both of the comedian and the listener, Gondelman’s routine is a truly happy experience.

Furthermore, much of the humor in the routine is amusingly self-deprecating: Gondelman is not for one instant afraid to make fun of himself. In fact, much of the key turning points of the routine pivot upon jokes which are, in the end, entirely about himself. This creates a friendly tone in which jokes are made with love and never taken all too seriously.

Gondelman is certainly not afraid to laugh at himself, a worthwhile skill for anyone, but particularly for a comedian. In the early part of the album, he frequently looks back to poke fun at a younger, stereotypically geeky self who seems to be somebody many of us (particularly here at Brandeis) will relate to. In fact, he probably is laughing at himself as a Brandeis student when he reflects. I was particularly struck by a series of jokes in the first track in which Gondelman laughs at his own affinity for books: He comments that he thought himself cooler than the comic book geeks, because they only read words in small segments.

The album itself is very well-structured, with a great flow from one track into the next. Despite the fact that each segment of the routine has its own distinct topic, they all flow together remarkably well, with later tracks calling back to earlier ones and connected topics that aid in creating a well-rounded portrait of Gondelman as a comedian and as a person.

Each track title is obviously well thought-out, offering a hint at the humor within without giving away any of the punch line. Gondelman also makes great use of suspense in his jokes, allowing the audience to build up anticipating and predict direction while still always delivering surprising humor.

I particularly enjoyed the way Gondelman uses his day job as a preschool teacher to fuel his comedy. I was especially amused by a particular segment about a child who decides to be a magician, and proceeds to perform a magic trick which simply amounts to opening his hands and proclaiming, “nothing in my hands!” Grondelman then uses that story to segue into a joke in which he performs the same trick on a homeless man.

The exploits of children is something anyone can enjoy, and that fact is utilized to its fullest throughout the album. He uses the ideas and antics of small children to poke fun at some very serious issues, including adoption, the modern treatments of racism and homosexuality and, funnily enough, our society’s fixation on being politically correct. All of this humor is done with remarkable and good-natured respect, making it quite decidedly unobjectionable as Gondelman gently pokes fun at all sorts of topics.

With jokes on everything from geeks, hip-hop, sports, children and more, there’s truly something for everyone on Josh Gondelman’s “Everything’s the Best.” The comedian is candid and unafraid of self-exposure or criticism, and makes gentle fun both of himself and the world around him, often easily blending the two. With such an amusing comedy album, Gondelman’s good-natured humor is clearly something Brandeis can be proud of.