Stoneham native Josh Gondelman will perform at Davis Square Theatre on Thursday, Dec. 17 to record a live comedy album. The 30-year-old "Last Week Tonight" writer's sold-out appearance at the intimate 175-seat black box is part of "Strange Behavior," a monthly stand-up series hosted by Ryan Donahue. He discussed his migration to New York, the dangers of insulting "Good Will Hunting," and how he keeps John Oliver's hit HBO series so damn funny.
You came up in the Boston comedy scene, but now live in New York. So, how does it feel to be an abject betrayer, Judas?
Honestly, it feels so good. I completely understand why Benedict Arnold turned against New England. It’s like waves of pure joy lapping up on a beach at sunset. No, obviously I miss my friends and family a lot. I’m always so happy to come back and visit. After almost five years I have a situation in New York that feels like home rather than the place I’m living, which is very fortunate. But I do wear my Red Sox hat when I go out because I still think I deserve to be yelled at by strangers.
What is the writing process like for "Last Week"? How do you decide which topics to tackle?
It’s a really collaborative effort with story pitches coming from all different pockets of the staff. It’s a lot of reading news and trying to find a funny angle on stories that haven’t been picked apart all the way yet.
If you were going to satirize Boston on the show, where would you start?
Nothing I could make up would ever top last New Year’s Eve. I was performing downtown, I mentioned that I live in New York and most of the crowd booed. I responded that the audience isn’t allowed to boo because they’re also allowed to leave town—"Good Will Hunting" isn’t science fiction. Then I got booed by the entire crowd.
Drew Grant of The New York Observer described you as a “pathological sweetheart.” How did you turn out so nice despite growing up in New England?
I have a really lovely family who emphasized treating people well when I was a kid. That said, I love seeing pure New England spite in action. Like, my heart beats to the tune of two guys screaming at each other over who shoveled out which parking space.
What made you decide to record your new special in Somerville? Do you no longer think that you're better than us?
Ryan Donahue—who’s very funny—runs a great monthly show at the Davis Square Theater and I figured by recording there, I could get a really nice hometown crowd on the record. Plus, I love Davis Square. Whenever I’m in town I try to arrange it so I can visit Magpie, my favorite quirky gift store, have a burrito at Anna’s Taqueria, and get coffee from Diesel.