Greenpoint resident Gabe Gronli got his start in comedy in high school, doing a local access cable show with friends. Little did he know that, about a decade later, that niche interest pursued in Madison, Wisonson, would help land him a job as a writer for one of the universe’s funniest people, Stephen Colbert on The Colbert Report. Gronli started as a PA before graduating to footage producer—which he did for 6 years—and, after a working on IFC’s Bunk, in which he played a producer/announcer named “Gabe”, made a triumphant return as a writer to the Report for the show’s last two years.
There you might have recognized him playing various hipster stereotypes (hipster paramedic, for example, on hand for a Radiohead concert). When Colbert took over The Late Show, Gronli went along with him. So far, standout writing credits include Colbert’s own take over of a local cable access show in Michigan, and a very funny bit about Facebook’s new emojis: Angry man, Gronli assessed, could just as easily be, “I just shaved my head and got a sunburn.” Gronli has an acute, off-beat eye for funny, and we’re very happy Colbert has him in his arsenal.
When was the first time you remember making someone laugh? What happened?
When I was in fourth grade my school started a writers club to occupy the kids who opted out of band class. One day I wrote down a joke I heard about a guy who’s granted three wishes and screws up by singing “Oh I wish I was an Oscar Meyer weiner.” I read it in front of the class and absolutely killed! I had found my demo: 10-year-olds who lack enough rhythm to play the recorder.
Naturally, I never mentioned that I stole the joke. And that’s how I became the fraud I am today.
What is the toughest part about being on the comedy scene in Brooklyn today? What is the best?
The toughest part is affording the rising rent. The best is the crippling depression.
Who do you find funny?
This is hard because I’m surrounded by a lot of insanely funny people. Also, I have the Internet and there’s lots of funny people on there too. But my friends who I started doing sketch comedy with in high school have probably made me laugh more than anybody and are still some of the funniest people I’ve ever met. I think one of them, Jeremy Beiler, is on this list. If not, he should be. As a 12 year-old in Wisconsin he was already one of the 50 funniest people in Brooklyn.
What was the last time you laughed so hard you cried?
I actually don’t remember the latest. But my highest laughter-to-tears ratio was probably at a funeral. My friend had lost multiple family members in a short time and opened his mother’s eulogy by jokily saying “we’ve gotta stop meeting like this!” My face nearly exploded, it had no idea what to do.
What are your goals for your comedy career?
My first goal is just to keep having a comedy career. Ideally, one where I get to keep working with people I love and making things I’m proud of. Second place is a tie between ending poverty and owning my own island.
What is your favorite knock-knock (or otherwise goofy) joke?
Have you heard the one about the guy who’s granted three wishes, then sings “Oh I wish I was an Oscar Meyer weiner”? Because I wrote that.
To see 49 more of Brooklyn’s funniest people, click here.