As a former “nice boy” trying to grow up to be a “good guy,” comedian Josh Gondelman is practiced in the art of failing — although not professionally. So far, he’s earned three Emmys for his work on Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, currently writes and produces for the Showtime series Desus & Mero, and has now authored a collection of essays that are at once endearing, sincere, and laugh-out-loud funny.
With Nice Try: Stories of Best Intentions and Mixed Results, Gondelman gives readers access to memories and moments that those of us with a lower tolerance for embarrassment would keep to ourselves. In doing so, he brings readers to the heart of what it truly means to be good and shows that even when we miss the mark completely, there is something of value to take away — even if it’s only just a laugh.
“Writing about being nice (or trying) and not seeming nice enough doesn’t even crack my top several anxieties around this book,” says Gondelman tells Rolling Stone, “especially since a lot of the book is about coming up short and screwing up anyway.”
Worrying happens to be one of Gondelman’s greatest skills. Whether he’s at the mercy of a room full of preschoolers or taking (what he thinks to be) MDMA in the name of saving a dead relationship — as in this exclusive excerpt below — Gondelman may be in a state of internal panic, but nobody can say he isn’t giving it his all. Read “Blank Postcard” from Nice Try below. — Natalli Amato
Most people become less exciting as they age, retiring from parties and extreme sports. I have become slightly more fun as I’ve gotten older, but only incrementally, and the bar was set pretty low to start with.
When I was 25, I started a long-distance relationship with Leah, a younger woman who didn’t want to be anyone’s girl- friend at all. She was twenty-two, just out of college, and vibrating with ambition. Leah was small with big, wide eyes, which earned people’s trust, and a smart, vengeful brain that would destroy them if she felt they had underestimated her. She was a talented writer, and as soon as she’d finished school, she moved to Manhattan, where she worked in media like the protagonist of an HBO prestige comedy. I was still teaching preschool and doing stand-up around Boston, where we’d met.
I visited Leah at her New York apartment that August, and that night she said both “I don’t see myself having a boyfriend right now” and “This doesn’t have to be a whole big thing, right?” Her explicit reluctance to be in a relationship was, in retrospect, the first sign that maybe we shouldn’t have been in a relationship. But despite the 200 miles between us and Leah’s constant insistence that she was a wild stallion (or . . . mare?) who could not be tamed, things continued to get more serious. We texted every day. We spent hours on the phone. One of us visited the other at least twice a month. That’s only a casual relationship if you’re talking about your conjoined twin.
By December, it was time for the ceremonial Meeting of the Friends. On account of the distance, Leah hadn’t had many opportunities to submit me before her friend group as Boyfriend Material. It was decided that on New Year’s Eve, I would visit her in New York, where I would tag along on a Girls’ Night Out. So the Girls’ Night Out signal was sent into the air (a group email chain), and I steeled myself for an evening of high-impact bonding with a Voltron of childhood friends, high school friends, college friends, high school friends’ best college friends, and college friends’ high school best friends.
But as December 31st drew closer, the Girls’ Night Out gaggle began to dwindle. A last-minute trip out of town popped up here. A boyfriend surprised someone with restaurant reservations there. Somehow, New Year’s Eve had managed to become a disappointment before it even started, which even for New Year’s Eve must represent some sort of record.
I did feel relieved to have avoided such a high-stakes night of socializing. But part of me worried that if I never became enmeshed with Leah’s larger social group, I was more likely to be dumped. Determined to create enough fun memories to keep the relationship moving forward, I suggested we get tickets to a show the Roots (my favorite live band) were playing in Brooklyn. The only tickets left were on Craigslist, which meant they could have been legit, counterfeit, or a trick to bring strangers close enough to murder them. Leah, the intrepid Manhattanite, met the seller in person, remaining mercifully unmurdered throughout the transaction.
Our plans had, in my opinion, taken a turn for the better. Then Leah suggested a wrinkle to our evening, and her proposal consisted of the only New Year’s celebration more daunting than a Girls’ Night Out.
“On New Year’s Eve, I think we should do molly together,” Leah said. At first I thought she had just issued me a casual invitation to participate in a threesome. Who is Molly? I thought. Is she your friend with the septum piercing? Is she already on board with this? Do I need to start working out? Of course, “molly” did not mean Leah’s college friend who had moved to Detroit to make house music while living in an unfurnished warehouse and who identified as “sexually omnivorous.” In fact, that’s not even a person who exists; I had invented her in a panic.
In this case, “molly” referred to the street name for pure MDMA, the active ingredient in ecstasy. You have to hand it to drug dealers: they’re always innovating. The problem with ecstasy, apparently, is that while in its pure form it’s an intense high and not especially addictive, it’s often cut with less expensive drugs like heroin or cocaine. To me, the fact that people used heroin to make a substance less potent was terrifying. “Let’s get a little of the stuff that killed John Belushi into the mix. Otherwise it might be too much for people,” was not a comforting sentiment to me.
“How do we know that there won’t be any of that stuff in the molly?” I asked, naively.
“Because then it wouldn’t be molly,” she explained, shaking her head. It seems like MDMA brings out the sommelier in any peddler of illicit pharmaceuticals. If the grapes aren’t from the Champagne region of France, you’re not drinking Champagne, and if there’s any crushed-up Adderall compounded into your little white tablets, you’re not really swallowing molly (and don’t let your local dealer tell you any different). “It’s a nice thing for couples to do,” she continued. “They used to use it for therapy. It’ll bring us closer together.”
Getting closer as a couple sounded appealing, especially since we spent most of our time geographically (and emotionally) remote from one another. The idea of doing drugs, however, was somehow even more stressful to me than the concept of sleeping with two women at once. And yes, I encourage you to take a moment to verify and digest the fact that you have just read the most unfun sentence ever committed to paper. In terms of pure opposition to pleasure and joy, that arrangement of words is right up there with “The amusement park is closing early for routine maintenance!” It is a profoundly square stance to take, one that even Huey Lewis would not defend as hip, and the News would back him up.
At the time, even though I’d started drinking a little, I still had a great deal of self-worth tied up in my identity as a Person Who Does Not Do Drugs. From age seven to 26, I was the friend who knew when to round up the crew and leave the party, the designated driver, the friend who reminded you to drink a glass of water before you went to bed. I spent my youth a paragon of sobriety, my failures and shiftlessness attributable not to any youthful hedonism, but rather to my own natural shortcomings.
It wasn’t that I loved corralling my drunk friends. It was fear that kept me sober. Fear of what people would say about me. Fear of getting myself into trouble or physical danger. But most of all, it was the fear of losing control. It was less the worry that drugs would lead to a bad time, and more that I’d like them too much. That I’d do something embarrassing or insulting, or that I wouldn’t be able to stop once I’d started.
Leading up to my big night out with Leah, I had just a couple of weeks to convince myself it was a good idea to increase my planned New Year’s Eve intake of substances from a couple of glasses of wine to a pill powerful enough to prop up the entire genre of electronic dance music. Being me, I went about doing drugs in the nerdiest way possible: thorough and comprehensive research. I started by reading everything I could about MDMA online, which allayed my most visceral fears. And yes, I realize that is about as reliable as pursuing a degree in physics by dropping various household objects off a roof. More important, though, I took an informal survey of my friends, almost all of whom agreed that doing molly one time would not send my life down a slippery slope of addiction and giant red rave pants like it did in every educational film I saw in health class.
The strongest endorsement for MDMA came from my friend Ray. Ray is kind of guy you call when you have a question you are nervous about asking even Google: “How soon after a one-night stand should I get tested?” “What do you do when you’re in the passenger seat and your roommate gets pulled over for drunk driving?” “How do I convince my girlfriend who is on mushrooms that I am not trying to ‘interrupt her essence’?” Ray gave me the advice that cemented my decision.
“Joshua, I’ve done every drug under the sun, and the only one worth doing is ecstasy. I used to do it once a year. I’d call friends I hadn’t talked to in a decade and cry and make up. It was the best. I had to stop because the depression the day after was too much. But you’re not a sad bastard like me, so drink a lot of water and don’t make any plans the next morning.”
“Wait, Ray . . . you’ve done heroin?” “Once.”
“What was that like?”
“It was amazing. It was so good I was afraid if I tried it again, I’d just want to do that for the rest of my life, so I never did.”
“Yeah, but ecstasy is great. You should try it.” “Okay.”
I was convinced. For once in my boring, in-control life, I was going to take a risk, have some fun, live a little, and all the other things your friends say when they’re trying to convince you to take a spur-of-the-moment road trip or pay the cover charge at a full-contact strip club with no official address. But I had a good reason. I was going to take illicit, intensely psychoactive drugs, but I was doing it for love.
As I write this, I am a grown man. I am married. My life is happy and stable. At the time this happened, though, I was a 25-year-old, which for male humans is like being a toddler who can vote and rent cars. I was convinced that my trip to New York would convey to Leah how cool and spontaneous and down for whatever I could be in a way that would also make me seem like a stable, lovable, committed long-term boyfriend. That is a nonsense goal dreamed up by a child with a debit card. But I was certain the fate of my relationship was contingent on our New Year’s plans.
The stage was set. We were going to do drugs, like a couple of rock stars or bored rich teens. Only one problem remained: we did not have any drugs. I, personally, did not even know where to get the kind of drugs we were looking for. If it had been as simple as tracking down some weed, there were semilegitimate delivery services for that, bike messengers with business cards who would bring a Whitman’s Sampler of marijuana strains right to your door. But I was skipping straight past the gateway drug of marijuana, hopping the gate and tumbling down the slippery slope on the other side. And while I probably knew someone who knew someone who knew someone who could get their hands on a dose of MDMA on a day’s notice, I was not prepared to have the attendant conversations and deliver the required explanations.
Fortunately, Ben, my girlfriend’s ex-boyfriend, was in town (what a fraught set of feelings!), and we all had dinner plans that night. He was the Jewish summer camp hippie type, and even visiting from out of state, he seemed like our best bet for finding a drug hookup. After an entree’s worth of small talk, Leah broached the question.
“Hey, we were thinking about getting some molly for tomorrow night. Do you know anyone who might be able to help us out?”
“Hmmm. I have a buddy out in Bushwick who I think has some.”
“And it’s like, molly molly?” Leah pressed. “Oh yeah, for sure.”
Very comforting. A veritable forensic chemical analysis, that was.
So the next day we did what generations of our predecessors had done when they wanted harder drugs than they had immediate access to: we went to Brooklyn. Leah, like many nice Jewish girls who recently graduated from liberal arts institutions, lived with an old friend on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. The apartment was small, with no living room and a bedroom that wrapped around the bed like a suit fits around a body that has gained fifteen pounds since the initial fitting (a metaphor drawn directly from personal experience). The trip out to Bushwick took nearly an hour, and exiting the subway felt like emerging into a different city entirely.
Absent were Manhattan’s dense clusters of residential buildings, bagel shops, and bodegas. Bushwick seemed to exist on an entirely warehouse-based economy. Walking through the neighborhood resembled ambling through a particularly grim level of a side-scrolling video game from the 1990s. Row after row of identical, depressing buildings. Even the residences were carved into former industrial behemoths, which had been rezoned to allow people to live in them . . . or, thinking back, maybe they hadn’t been. The important thing is, people were living in them.
Nowadays, Bushwick is a hip place where struggling artists can still sometimes afford to live within walking distance of a pour-over coffee shop. But just a few years ago, it was a corner of the city that relatively few transplants had attempted to gentrify.2 It was a swath of Brooklyn musicians and/or college grads moved to when they didn’t have their parents’ help paying rent, or at least they didn’t want to look like they did. It was a place to live until your career in the arts took off, or until the rising tide of “urban renewal” forced you to apply for office jobs.
We pressed the buzzer at the front door of a structure that looked less like an apartment building and more like a haunted steel mill and walked up the stairs to a large, open loft whose decor could best be described as “room where an entire punk band you’ve never heard of crashes while on tour.” Ben’s friend greeted us and led us to his corner of the space, which I must reiterate, had the vibe of an indoor skate park that had recently been condemned.
The three of us sat down and made some awkward small talk, because if you just walk into someone’s apartment and request that he sell you drugs, he will think you’re a cop. So we had to sit there and listen to this guy—whose name and face I could not, at the time I am writing this, recall at gunpoint—talk about his plans for party-hopping later that night until he deigned to address the entire reason we were sitting in his bedcorner on a sub-Ikea couch: “So . . . uhhh, Ben said you guys were interested in some molly?”
We nodded, as if to imply, Yeah, man. Why else would you have answered the door for two strangers?
“How much do you need?”
I hadn’t considered that. A big problem with purchasing controlled substances, it turns out, is that they don’t come in standard sizes. You can’t ask for a “two pack” or a “youth large” of molly. Buying drugs is like ordering at a tapas restaurant. You need the server to talk you through how much you require depending on your budget, your appetite, and how long you are willing to spend sobbing in the bathroom the next day.
“Enough for two people, but me more than him,” Leah explained. “It’s his first time.” I smiled, slightly embarrassed, the way you feel the last time your mother takes you to a pediatrician before you realize you need a doctor for adults. Whenever I’m about to do something fun, it seems, it’s usually my first time.
“Cool. That’ll be 75 dollars.” I handed over the cash, and he gave me a little envelope of white powder, which at the time felt like a bad deal. You can get so much more of so many things for $75. We could have gone out for a lobster dinner. I already knew I would enjoy that. Seventy-five dollars gets you a whole bottle of fancier bourbon than I’d ever tasted before. And a bottle of booze has a satisfying heft to it, not like a tiny little button bag of what looked like decorative sand.
We got back to Leah’s apartment with enough time to order a light dinner before we turned around and headed back to Brooklyn for the show. We split some Thai food, changed clothes, and set our sights on our small pouch of contraband.
“So, uhh, how do we . . . you know . . . do it?” I asked.
“I don’t know,” Leah replied. “I’ve only ever taken it as pills before.”
I felt, not betrayed, but definitely overwhelmed. I thought I was trusting myself in the hands of an expert, but it turned out Leah was more like a pharmacological enthusiast.
“I don’t want to snort it,” she said.
I hadn’t even realized snorting was on the table. That was a high threshold to cross. I was already trying something new. I did not also need to attempt a completely novel way to put things inside me. When it comes to things entering my body, I’m kind of an old-fashioned mouth-only type. Nose isn’t even next in the hierarchy of openings through which I would accept recreational substances. That goes: mouth, butt, nose, veins, eyeballs. Putting something in your nose for fun is empirically gross, whether it’s your own finger, a psychoactive powder, or a Cheerio (oh, like you never did that when you were three years old).
“I guess we could Google what to do?” I offered, like a real dork. So we did, once again turning the prospect of an evening of carefree debauchery into a research paper. Google, as is its custom, provided a plethora of results that ranged from helpful to total nonsense. Snorting the powder, as we suspected, was bad news, as was rubbing it on your gums in the way a police officer in a movie checks to see if cocaine is really cocaine. Apparently that can erode your gums and damage the enamel on your teeth. Be more careful, movie cops!
The method that seemed safest and least reminiscent of Trainspotting was what the internet called “parachuting,” which, despite what you may imagine, is not a fetish that involves having sex with your old gym teacher while wrapped in one of those rainbow parachutes. It instead constitutes tearing off a square inch of toilet paper, wrapping the drugs inside it, and then dropping the little package down your throat, like you’re sending aid into a war zone. I will say again, swallowing a square of toilet paper was the least gross and most appealing option.
We decided to gulp down half the powder before we left and save half to take in the bathroom at the venue if the first dose wore off. We tore a square of Leah’s post-college one-ply toilet paper into little parcels, divided out two tiny piles of white powder, hers a little bigger than mine, and threw them back. We tucked the rest of our stash (a very small amount by this point) into Leah’s purse and set off into the night.
There I found myself, on the streets of New York City, doing drugs like a Sex Pistol or one of the gangsters from American Gangster, which I haven’t seen but hear good things about and should really put in my Netflix queue. I was finally seizing the night, like Smirnoff Ice ads had been encouraging me to do for years.
Now, when someone who likes fun finds himself in those circumstances, I imagine his internal monologue goes something like this: “WOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!”
My antsy, controlling brain, however, sounded more like this: “Okay. I’m on drugs. So far so good. I mean, it’s no better or worse than normal. I think? How long do drugs take to kick in? Did I take enough drugs for them to work? Did I throw a half day’s worth of preschool salary down the drain? That thought makes me queasy. Or are the drugs making me queasy? Are they working? Is this what drugs are like? I don’t think I like drugs. Or maybe this is just the first part. Maybe this is the ecstasy overture. The overture is never the best part. I bet it gets better. But what if it’s all overture?” Oh, that was also my external monologue. That train ride was a real treat for Leah, I’m sure.
We arrived at the venue, which was a large bowling alley with a stage at the far end where the band would perform. There was a little café where concertgoers could buy pizza and beer. The whole scene was very “2010s Brooklyn” in that it was something that could be found in any major city in America, but here it was slightly fancier and vastly more expensive. We each got a cup of water from the bar because that’s what you are supposed to drink when you are on drugs, even if the drugs you are on haven’t started to feel like drugs yet.
“Should we be feeling it by now?” I asked.
“I think it’s about to kick in. I’m getting that feeling that you get before you start feeling it for real. It’s kind of warm. Do you feel warm?”
“I think so, but I’m still wearing my coat.”
“Well, do you want to do more? I think I’m going to do some more.”
So we took turns ducking into the unisex bathroom to swaddle a little more powder in toilet paper and gulp it down, which by this point had started to feel like a trick someone would play if they were trying to get you to eat a roll of toilet paper. We reconvened on the dance floor.
“Still nothing?” “Nothing. You?” “Nothing.”
Several minutes past the advertised showtime, the stage remained dark. We stood toward the back of the thickening crowd, quietly wiling the chemicals we’d ingested to enter our bloodstreams . . . or release dopamine from our brains . . . into our brains? Even now, I’m not exactly sure how drugs work, which makes me feel shaky about my decision to have taken them.
Finally, nearly an hour after the show was scheduled to start, the Roots took the stage. You may know the Roots primarily from their current gig as megafamous laughers at Jimmy Fallon’s monologue jokes, but the reason they are on television every night is because they are the best band. They are a hip-hop group, but one that can, at the snap of a snare drum, lock into any groove that has ever been written. It has been said that writing about music is like dancing about architecture, but sometimes you see a building that makes you think, I need to physically express my awe at this structure through dance, and in that spirit, here is my attempt to capture the experience of seeing the Roots live.
Black Thought, the group’s front man, possesses two singular gifts as a rapper. Number one: he can make any two words rhyme. It’s amazing. In the song “Adrenaline” he pairs “auction” with “chicken Szechuan” and the effect isn’t (as you might expect) “Dude, those words don’t really rhyme. You’ve got to try that again.” It is instead “How did I never notice that those two words rhyme perfectly?” Gift number two: he does not need to breathe. He raps with the same ceaseless and tireless energy that the Colorado River used to gouge the Grand Canyon into the sandstone of the Arizona desert. The group’s most famous member is, of course, ?uestlove, notable for his voluminous Afro, his work recording music with everyone from Lin-Manuel Miranda to D’Angelo, and for giving off the impression that he could smash out a backbeat on a drum kit consisting of a broken DVD player, a memory foam pillow, and a taxedermied rabbit. Between Thought’s vocals and ?uest’s percussion there’s a full ensemble (keys, bass, guitar, and more) that plays with the momentum of a bowling ball thundering down a spiral staircase. When you hear it, you don’t get in the way; you fucking move.
Leah and I moved. I do not dance often. I am so self-conscious about how bad I am at it that I can rarely get my body parts working in sync with one another. I think, I should move my hips, and there they go, but then I focus so hard on that I forget about my upper body. Oh shit, wiggle your shoulders, you weirdo, my brain commands, and once I start, the rest of me goes rigid. It feels like some kind of mindfulness meditation exercise and looks like a mannequin coming slowly to life, limb by limb.
On December 31, 2010, however, I danced with my whole body at once. To onlookers I imagine it seemed as if Leah were made of electricity, and any point of contact with her sent a powerful shock through me. The relentless beat caused unexpected quakes and tremors in my body, as if endorphins were being physically fracked out of me. As I joyfully approximated dancing for the next hour, I began to wonder: Was I on drugs after all?
When the band finished their first set and left the stage, my mood returned to its normal level, which I can best describe as “happy, but would be happier if I were eating pizza.” So Leah and I ordered pizza from the bowling alley/concert venue’s café, a sentence that forever settles any debates about whether I am a millennial. I enjoyed the pizza slightly more than I usually do, but I attributed it to the addition of pulled pork as a topping rather than any chemical enhancement.
Then, when the Roots took the stage again, I hurried back to the dance floor. That was a little weird. To me, a dance floor is like a Subway sandwich shop: I will spend time there only if I have no other options. At weddings, even the most crowd-pleasing song (which is “I Wanna Dance with Somebody [Who Loves Me]” by Whitney Houston) can barely drag me out of my seat. The Roots played three sets, and each time they appeared onstage, my heart rate rose and I was swept up in a riptide of enthusiasm. Then, when the music stopped, the euphoria began to ebb. After the band’s second set, I made an embarrassing realization. My new experience for the night wasn’t “doing drugs” after all. But I had managed to dabble in “having a good time.”
By midnight, Leah and I had become fairly convinced that we hadn’t taken any of the kind of powerful psychoactive substances that necessitated constant hydration and prohibited drinking alcohol. I felt pretty confident about this because my mental state was such that I was still concerned with proper hydration as opposed to which people, objects, or ideas I could rub up against for maximum physical pleasure.
Relatively certain we weren’t in any imminent danger, Leah and I decided to participate in the champagne toast when the clock struck midnight. We clinked glasses of whatever vintage is handed out at bowling alleys in Brooklyn, as the Roots emerged to play “Auld Lang Syne,” “When the Saints Go Marching In,” and several other standards, backed by a full-on brass ensemble. The single glass of champagne sent me almost immediately from zero to “Hooray!” where I settled comfortably for the rest of the night.
The last note of the final encore receded into the night around three o’clock, at which point ?uestlove announced that after a short break, he would reemerge and deejay until 7:30 a.m. Even by the most generous allowances, that is significantly past my bedtime. By my estimation, once a party approaches the length of a full day in an office, any amount of Having Fun is still essentially Doing Work. Leah and I agreed that staying out until three in the morning after trying to do drugs constituted a successful New Year’s Eve, and it was time to head home.
We walked out into 2011 for the first time. It was cold and dark, as most years are at the beginning. It also felt hopeful and full of potential. In exactly seven months, I would live in New York City, a big step that started to feel more possible after New Year’s Eve. I felt capable of anything that night, except for catching a cab back to Manhattan.
We were still living in (as unimaginable as it sounds) a pre-Uber world, so the process of finding someone to drive you home consisted of the draconian method of shooting your hand into the sky like a fleshy road flare. Finally, at four a.m., we arrived back at Leah’s apartment. As final proof we were not on ecstasy, we fell asleep without having sex.
The next morning, Leah texted Ben that his friend had sold us bogus molly. Hours later, when he woke up, he replied:
Bummer. You got a blank postcard.
At first that felt like kind of a cute stoner euphemism for his friend screwing us out of $75. But with time, “blank postcard” has made more and more sense to me. What we’d paid for wasn’t the uniform tourist experience of taking MDMA. Instead we’d spent 75 bucks for the chance to fill in the space as we saw fit, and we managed to make it uniquely special and lovely.
Still, that New Year’s Eve provided a microcosm of why Leah and I eventually broke up. My ceiling for excitement was her floor. We were always slightly off, two words listed as synonyms under the same thesaurus entry that weren’t quite interchangeable. I was trying to be a partner; she wanted an accomplice. She was out for an experience; I turned it into an experiment. I was Doing Drugs; she was just going out.3 Those two things are technically the same, but they also very much are not. Exactly what I thought would make me Boyfriend Material is what made me a bad boyfriend in this situation.
It’s hard to want different things from someone you’re dating, but it’s somehow also hard to want the same thing but for different reasons. That’s something I learned in a unisex bathroom at a bowling alley-slash-music venue as I swallowed a square inch of toilet paper wrapped around Ajax or crushed up Advil or rat poison or whatever it was I actually ingested. In the long run, trying to do a drug to bring us closer highlighted the chasm between us, and no matter how much fun we had that night, it wouldn’t cause enough of a tectonic shift to close that gap.
Years later, I hope the guy who sold us the fake molly is still living in a semi-habitable warehouse in Bushwick. Yes, I mean that mostly as a hipster curse, but I also think the world needs him there, dispensing psychedelics and placebos depending on what he perceives the needs of the customer to be, teaching them something about themselves in the process.
But it’s been eight years, so by now it’s more likely his band has broken up and he works for a hedge fund.
Josh Gondelman is a comedian and a writer/producer for ‘Desus & Mero’ on Showtime. Previously, he earned two Peabody Awards and three Emmy® awards for his work on ‘Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.’ His book, ‘Nice Try,’ can be found here.