Can you share a brief description of your show?
It’s a comedy solo show — in the style of Mike Birbiglia or Hassan Minhaj — and I’ve been developing it since 2019. The premise of the show is that I turn 30 and I realize I have no friends; it sounds more dramatic than it is, but it’s basically a story exploring friendship, jokes about friendship, and then the arc of it is a long story about a friendship breakup.
What was the process of producing this show like?
I’m a comedian going into theatre, so it’s a bit of a different process. Most comedians do short-form content for about 10 years and then pivot to long-form storytelling, but I always knew that’s where my goal was. I kind of combined those two skills (comedy and storytelling) into one.
Did you participate in comedy-related activities at Hamilton?
I was a music major, and I was in all the plays plus Duelly Noted [an a capella group]; we used to do five songs, write a musical around the songs, and do a big skit. I would write jokes for that and remember thinking, “Oh, I’m better at that than the music part of it.” I really enjoyed every part of writing that material, so it was really my first taste.
Do you have a favorite example of one of those Duelly sketches?
We did a giant West Side Story parody that we called Dark Side Story, which was really quite good, in retrospect. And Michael Breslin ’13, who recently was actually a Pulitzer Prize finalist in drama, was in that group. It was a lot of brilliant people all just goofing around and writing funny stuff. It’s funny, Michael’s show that got nominated, Circle Jerk, doesn’t feel dissimilar to a Duelly sketch. Collaborating creatively with smart, ambitious people, too, is really fun, because what I did with them — making posters and aesthetic choices, as well as selling tickets — is what I do professionally now.
What at Hamilton prepared you for your future career?
I got the George Watson's College Teaching Internship through Hamilton, and so after college I went on what is basically an exchange program to Scotland. I got to teach through the program, but what’s funny is that Edinburgh, Scotland, is where long-form comedy thrives. Hamilton just sent me to the epicenter of long-form comedy and, in retrospect, that’s pretty cool. I’ve even taken my current show to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival twice, to workshop it and get reviews.
Did you always intend to go into this field?
No, I thought I was going to be a music teacher. I went to Scotland for a year thinking I would return and be a teacher of some kind, but I started listening to comedy podcasts at that point. The professionalism of it I’m still figuring out to this day, but I was interested in it, and I knew I just wanted to make something great. I wanted and still want to chronicle my life, and to focus on the big topics, like friendship with my current show.
Did anything stick with you from your music major even though you didn’t go into that specific field?
When you’re in the comedy business nowadays, you have to do more than just the art itself — the business of it, and the technical side of it especially. So sometimes I’ll be editing a video, and I’ll find that I have to get the timing exactly right; that’s where my music major comes up. I’m a big believer in a varied education. When you have a job like this, you have to know how to do everything, so it comes up all the time.
What connections and professional skills did you gain at Hamilton?
I did a lot of writing and arguing and staying up late writing stuff, and that’s kind of what my whole life is now. The thing that helped the most, though, was sitting in KJ till 4 in the morning, just messing around with smart people, and trying to write jokes. Because that’s what the job is: you sit in an office, and you pitch jokes, and you write comedy…that’s what I hope the next few years of my life are like.
*Performances of Mollica’s show begin again on Oct. 10 in the Connelly Theater Upstairs in New York City, where it will run for 21 shows until Oct. 28. Solo will then move to Chicago, where it will run from Dec. 20 to 23 at The Den Theatre.
Hear more about the show from Gabe on “Say it to My Face” on This American Life.