Archive | July, 2010

The Young and the Hairless

30 Jul

When you start losing your hair early in life, there is a period of denial.  It’s inevitable.  It lasts until

a. You see pictures of yourself at age 16 and at age 20 side by side.  And/or…

b. People keep telling you you look like your (bald) dad, who you have never really looked like before.

Once you admit what’s happening on top of your head, people get really weird.  Lots of times, they’ll ask you what you plan on “doing” about it.  They ask whether you’ve considered Rogaine.  No, I hadn’t, but thanks for implying that my appearance as an adult is unacceptable for life in the world.

But that’s not what the worst part is.  The worst part is the other bald guys who refuse to accept their genetics with dignity.  The closeted baldies.  There are lots of tricks that they use to hide their condition.  Most of them are wildly undignified.  Let’s do a rundown, shall we, from most reasonable to most humiliating.

1. Bic-tory! (The Shaved Head)

2 Bald 2 Furious

This one is actually a legitimate fashion choice.  Lots of cool famous people have had a shaved head.  If you’re black, it’s a much easier thing to pull off.  If you’re white, it’s a little trickier.  It is possible to avoid looking like a skinhead, but you have to avoid wearing denim jackets of sleeveless flannel shirts.  Your physique is also a factor.  When you see a fit, athletic guy with a shaved head, you want to throw him a football.  But if you see a skinny, angular guy like me with a shaved head, you want to throw me a…telethon.

A (very reasonable and dignified) friend of mine with a shaved head once said to me: “You know when you take the plunge?  When a girl says she thinks it would look good.”  Good advice, friend!

2. Hats On To You, Sir (Wearing a Hat All the Time)

Not sure whether this guys is bald, but you get the picture.

This one is slightly more conspicuous than the shaved head in certain circumstances.  When you are bald (or bald-ing, as I like to say), you have to wear a hat in the sun or else you will get sunburns on the top of your head like a real jerk.  Other times, however, you have to choose your hat very carefully to match the rest of your outfit.  For example, if you wear a baseball cap with a suit, then you will look like you just got selected in the NBA draft.  Sombreros are rarely appropriate.

3. The Cover-Up (Toupee)

Here’s where the wheels really start to come off.  A bad toupee begs the question “Why Bother?”  It looks cheap.  It’s always slightly askew, like rappers wear their hats.  It’s got a weird two-tone look like wood paneling on an old-school station wagon.  In general, it’s a hilarious disaster.

Toupee or not toupee? Not even a question.

A good toupee is only slightly better.  It’s kind of like one of those Magic Eye posters from the 1990s.  You know there’s something strange about it, but you can’t really tell unless you let your eyes go a little unfocused and sort of look past it.  Then it emerges in three dimensions.  A high-end toupee is a last ditch effort to get people to look past the obvious truth.  It’s like a BMW or an acoustic guitar.

4. The Game-Over (Combover)

The saddest picture of anything ever. You'll get there someday, buddy!

Oh dear God.  Mommas, don’t let your babies grow up to be cowboys.  But especially don’t let them grow up to have comb-overs.  A combover is just a lie that your hair tells.  And it’s always such a flimsy lie.  Even the world’s best combover is worse than any other haircut.  It’s like a basket handle for the shamebucket of your head.  Seriously.  It’s like  putting a Cadillac hood ornament on a Vespa scooter.  No one is fooled, and no one is impressed.  How can you trust someone whose haircut is a naked attempt at deception?  You can’t.  Here are some sentences.  See how trustworthy they sound from a regular guy vs. a guy with a combover.

“There’s no need to get the police involved.”

“It’s just a cold sore.”

“I have no idea where the briefcase is, sir!”

With a regular-looking person (bald or non-bald), there’s a chance you can trust them.  But with a combover dude there’s always reasonable doubt.

So bald guys, shave your head, wear a hat, or just Zen out and let it go.  There’s something honest about a bald head.  A scalp without a veneer.  Plus, when you meet a woman, she’s thinking long-term.  What’s this guy going to be like in 20 years?  When a guy has hair, there’s a lot of uncertainty.  But with a bald guy, the future. is. now.

At least, that’s what I tell myself.


Fists Ahoy!

28 Jul

The ascendance of the Jersey Shore crew has a lot of social implications.  First and foremost, it implies that society is coming to a fiery, greasy, well-tanned end.  But in a less dire vein, it has brought the fist pump to the forefront of nonverbal communication in American culture.  Fist pumping is not a new phenomenon.  Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods both have signature fist pumps.  Arsenio Hall inspired a very specific fist pump of encouragement.  But when executing a fist pump, specificity is key.  You don’t want to send the wrong message.  Here’s a handy guide to avoiding faux paws.  (PUN!)

"Fifteen more minutes! Fifteen more minutes!"

Name: The Jersey Shore
Description: Fist extended upwards repeatedly, often in time to music.
What it Says: “I love this song!  Also, I love sit-ups more than books!”

"This Blackberry uncrackable!!!!!"

Name: The Michael Jordan/The Tiger Woods
Description: One firm pump, arm remains extended forward at right angle.
What it Says: “In your face, Drexler!”  or  “Nailed that putt.”  or  “My wife will never find out about this text message/gambling debt.”

Name: The Scooby Doo Villain
Description: Fist extended outwards and upwards, shaken vigorously.
What it Says: “I would have gotten away with it too, if it weren’t for those meddling kids.”

Name: The Champion
Description: Fists clasped together and shaken repeatedly over alternating shoulders.
What it Says: “I just won an athletic competition with the help of a very fast car or horse!”

Name: The High Roller
Description: Fist cocked back behind head, shaken vigorously, blown on, and then brought forward and opened.
What it Says: “Daddy needs a new pair of shoes.  Seriously.  I just bet my shoes at craps.”

Name: The Jerk
Description: Fist placed in front of mouth, moved vigorously up and down.
What it Says: “I will do anything to get out of this speeding ticket.”

Suggest your own if you have some!

Also, Episode 4 of The Two Man Canoe is up!  It’s on our blog, and even awesomer, it’s on iTunes!  Subscribe!  Subscribe!

Semi-Charmed Life

27 Jul

Guys, here’s an embarrassing fact about me.  I’m really into punctuation.  Not, like, in sexy ways.  But it’s very important to me.  I have considered getting a punctuation tattoo.  (Not going to happen, but I’ve considered it.)  I punctuate text messages exceptionally well.  It takes a lot of effort since I don’t have a smart phone.  My phone is an idiot.  The problem, however, is that I can’t do apostrophes because there is no way to make them appear with my key pad as far as I know.  I can hyphenate.  I can exclaim.  I can parenthesize.  But I cannot effectively form contractions or indicate possession.  This handicap is a major factor in my impending iPhone purchase.  It makes me very self-conscious to send half-assedly punctuated texts.

But that is beside the point.  What I really wanted to write about today was the semicolon.  It is a very useful but widely underutilized bit of punctuation.  Clearly someone at one point thought it was important, since it’s where your pinky naturally rests when typing on a QWERTY keyboard.  You don’t even need to hit shift to use it.  Take that, colon!  (That’s apostrophe, too, but a different kind.  The literary kind where you refer to something that is dead or cannot respond.)

The semicolon is used (passive voice, ugh, sorry!) to join two independent clauses without the use of a coordinating conjunction (and, but, yet, etc.).  You can employ the semicolon when two sentences are intimately related and flow easily into one another.  It’s really useful for manipulating the rhythm of a paragraph.  Now I’m starting to think that you think that I think this is sexy, but I swear it’s (not “its”) not.

For example, instead of:

The guys in Tap Out shirts at the end of the bar kept playing Nickelback on the jukebox, and I wanted to seal my ears shut forever.


The guys in Tap Out shirts at the end of the bar kept playing Nickelback on the jukebox.  I wanted to seal my ears shut forever.

You could write:

The guys in Tap Out shirts at the end of the bar kept playing Nickelback on the jukebox; I wanted to seal my ears shut forever.  (Just one space after a semicolon, guys.  It’s space and energy efficient!)

The only problem with the semicolon is that when you use it, people think you’re a pretentious dick.  Now, as you can tell by the rest of this blog entry, I kind of am one, but you don’t have to be.  Are hippies pretentious for driving hybrids?  No, they’re pretentious for acting like everyone can afford to drive one.  Are film buffs pretentious for suggesting that they enjoy Sideways more than The Big Lebowski?  Yes.  But you wouldn’t be like that.  You would be like a vegan who doesn’t throw your meat-eating in your face.  (Disclaimer: Most vegans are reasonable.)  Or maybe you would be like a person with a PhD in English that doesn’t get bent out of shape if you call him/her Mr./Ms.  Yeah, you’d be a real smart and reasonable person.

So everyone, let’s embrace the semicolon; it’s not just for booknerds anymore.

(Also, this week I’m performing at Mottley’s at 8pm on Thursday and The Comedy Studio at 8pm on Friday and Saturday.)

The Mendoza Lineup

24 Jul

Funny story, guys.

I’m co-headlining the Joke Joint in Bloomington, MN the first full weekend in August (hooray!) with Seaton Smith (yeah!) who is a really funny comic from DC.  The club put pictures of us up on the website for promo, but there’s one little problem.  My picture is not of me!  It’s of a local fashion designer named Sam Mendoza, who looks exactly like me.  True story.  That’s why he’s holding a cloth tape-measure in his hand.  In other news, I’m not going to tell the club.  Literally no one will be able to tell the difference.  Don’t believe me?  Check it out!


Not me!

Check out the club’s website (complete with erroneous photo) at  If you are in the area, you can even buy tickets!



Keys to the City

24 Jul

Hey Everyone,

I’m at home in Boston!  Hooray!  I’m enjoying all of the Boston-y things I like to do, like laundry and eating vegetables and seeing my roommates and the Family Show at Improv Boston.  I have been doing a lot of writing and looking at apartments for the fall and tutoring.  Things are good and busy, but also good.

That last paragraph is why I don’t update much when I’m at home.  Verrrrrry boring.  But here are some non-boring things!

Yesterday, I dropped my keys down the sewer!  It was pretty horrible.  I was not able to recover them, despite calling the City of Boston (not their jurisdiction) and talking to the folks at Staples within whose parking lot the sewer stood.  Additionally, I made a keychain fishing line with a very strong magnet and a length of twine.  I spent fifteen or so minutes key fishing while people looked at me as if I were totally psychotic.  To no avail.   I did manage to catch a few screws and some unidentifiable filth.  So that was pretty traumatic, in a wildly irrelevant way.  What made it worse, though, is that everyone I told about my problem said the same thing: “Oh, man, I’m constantly terrified of that all the time!”  Well, thank you everyone for the reassurance that I am living your personal nightmare.  That makes my predicament feel even more isolating and unpleasant.  Fortunately, my sister (who is a hero) brought me an extra set of keys today, so I’m back on top of the world.  Or at least, back inside my car, house, and workplace.  Hooray!  Happy ending-ed!

Also, last night I got to see Marc Maron perform at the Great Scott in Allston (within a tantalizing distance to the Allston Staples and my then-inaccessable car).  The show was great from beginning to end.  It was hosted by Great Scott mainstay and great dude Rob Crean.  Sean Sullivan did a really funny set also.  He opened with my favorite joke (it’s about a flaming skull tattoo!) which made me laugh a lot.

Maron was really terrific to see live.  I’ve heard his albums and listen to his podcast (WTF with Marc Maron) regularly, but I’d never seen him perform in person.  It was really fascinating and hilarious.  He performed for almost an hour and a half, and it flew by.  He is such an expert at expressing the emotional core of a situation in such a succinct and funny way.  I think lots of comics have great jokes, but so few people convey a state of mind or an uncomfortable personal truth with as much clarity and honesty.  So…great!

Some other news!

1. Tonight I’m performing at West End Johnnie’s (Formerly “Johnnie’s on the Side”) on Portland Street in Boston.  The show starts at 7:30, and I am performing with headliner Colin Kane.

2. Tomorrow I get to see minor league baseball in actual Portland (Maine), and then perform at the Maine Comedy Connection at 8:30!

3. Please vote for Myq Kaplan on Last Comic Standing.  The show airs Monday nights at 9pm on NBC.  He’s a super comic and great dude.

More to come!



16 Jul

Asheville update?  Here goes!

Yesterday was my first full day in Asheville, and it was pretty great.  I spent the early morning eating a continental breakfast at the Super 8 and planning out my set.  Then Ahmed headed into town to meet up with my parents for lunch and wandering around.  Also, I forgot to mention that my parents are here, which is kind of a big deal because they rarely take vacations.  We all had a great lunch (fish tacos, where have you been all my life?) and then walked through the town for a while.  There were lots of places to buy locally made art and clothing, and much to my delight, much of it was not made of hemp!  I bought a copy of Steve Martin’s “Wild and Crazy Guy” on vinyl, which I am excited to own in that format.  I got it in a part of town that seemed to be primarily record stores, which is a very niche segment of the economy in 2010.  Everything in this town is artsy.  Even the graffiti has pictures of birds.

Owl be seeing you. Boom! Punned!

Afterwards I took a nap and got dressed for my show.  It was called “Josh Gondelman and Friends,” which was exciting, because that’s -my- name and friends!  In fact, by coincidence, most of the people on the show, I was friends with already.  And the rest of them, I made friends with once I got to the theater.  The Laugh Your Asheville Off producers and staff have been so nice, and one of them even brought me a copy of a magazine with my face in it!  (Although there’s not my name, so I just look skeptical of the events they’re advertising.)

Oh yeah, right. The arts section. Real cool. Not.

The Diana Wortham Theater is beautiful, and there were lots of people there to see the show, which was exciting.  The Friends part of the show was great; it was so fun to watch everyone, both old friends and new Friends.  The show was long, and everyone was having killer sets, and I was a little antsy that they would be tired by the time I got onstage.  But everyone stuck with it.  The audience was very laughy and clappy, and even though I’m pretty quiet, and the show had been going on for a while, they were attentive and delightful.  I got to do some fun in-the-moment reactions to things.  I mentioned that Lebron James signed with the Miami Heat (basketball player and basketball team for you non-sports people), and one guy cheered really loudly.  And I very honestly asked: “Are you from Miami or just a dick?”  Which got a big laugh.  It was great to get to perform for such an enthusiastic and generous audience, and afterwards I met festival headliner Jake Johansen, who was super nice and said complimentary things, which made me feel pretty great.  Also, I sold two t-shirts!

Another in a long line of blurry dark pictures of theaters.

Then we stayed up late having beverages and talking with friends and Friends and strangers.  Now for me all that’s left is hanging out and having fun and looking for a place to eat ribs.  And as long as I don’t have to use my AK, it will be a good day.


We Are Comic

15 Jul

We made it, guys!  We made it to Asheville!

Yesterday morning we left the hotel in Philadelphia and made a pit stop so Ahmed could grab a breakfast cheese steak from Pat’s, a 24-hour cheese steak emporium.  Now, I will pause briefly to mention that there is no such thing as a breakfast cheese steak.  Ahmed just ate whatever a regular cheese steak is at breakfast time.  I tipped my hat to him, as such an act may have actually caused my stomach to burrow out of my body through the front like the alien from the “Alien” movies.

Then it was southward!  We had a great and easy drive without many stops.  We fueled up and ate at Waffle House (yes! it had been too long since Waffle House for me!) and motored on towards Asheville in order to catch an 8pm screening of Jordan Brady’s documentary “I Am Comic.”

We made it just in time, and the movie was really, really good.  It gave sort of a survey course on what it’s like to be a comedian, and there was an arc of an older comic returning to the stage after a 12-year period away.  The caliber of comedian they managed to interview (Louis CK, Phyllis Diller, etc.) was tremendous, and it was really entertaining.  From now on, whenever anyone asks me questions about comedy (Do you write your own material?  What’s it like to bomb?  Do you ever get heckled?) I just want to refer them to “I Am Comic.”  I think it gives a lot of insight into the psyche of the comedian.  Although it does give a little too much credence to the “sad clown” school of thought.  Not all comics are damaged goods.  Some of us are very well-adjusted.  For real!

Erin, Ahmed, and I enjoyed dinner at the New French Bar with festival founder Greg Brown and super funny comic Joe Zimmerman (Beards of Comedy).  There was another guy there who was also very nice, but his name escapes me, so I hope he doesn’t stumble across this blog.  Chances are, he will not.

My show is tonight, guys!

Josh Gondelman and Friends at the Diana Wortham Theater (8pm)

I’m headlining, and the whole show will be wonderful!  Please come if you’re around!

Also, Rooftop Comedy linked to one of my clips from their front page! (

And the Two Man Canoe Episode 3 is online!  (Erin Judge is our special guest this canoe.) (