Regardless of what you ask Charles Gould, you’re bound to get a humorous response.
Inquire about his time at Santa Monica High School, and you might get something like this: “Even though I probably should have gone to Crossroads for the connections,” he said, “I saved my family $120,000.”
Try to find out about his long-term career plans, and he’ll tell you he plans to parlay his future fame as a comedian into a stint as New York City’s mayor before becoming an erotic fiction writer.
The widespread fame hasn’t come yet for Gould, but a career in comedy has begun in earnest. He will be featured on “New York’s Funniest,” a stand-up competition series at Caroline’s on Broadway that will debut Thursday. The series is hosted by “Saturday Night Live” cast members Michael Che and Leslie Jones and carried on Seeso, an online comedy channel backed by NBC.
For Gould, participating in the series was a no-brainer.
“It’s the best comedy club in the country, so any chance to get on stage there is amazing,” he said. “The whole contest ended up being one of the best experiences of my comedy career. Performing for packed crowds at Caroline’s, working with Seeso, getting to hang with Leslie Jones and Michael Che — it was, as they would say on the beaches of Santa Monica, ‘epic.’”
The series could potentially be a breakout gig the 2003 Samohi alumnus.
A native of New York who graduated from Franklin Elementary and Lincoln Middle schools, Gould said he was drawn to comedy when he saw it as a tool in the dating game. He recalled a time when a girl he liked laughed in front of her boyfriend.
“I knew that this was my only way to steal her from him,” he said. “I failed but continued to try to make people laugh in order to get them to like me.”
Gould’s foray into comedy continued at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts, where he started studying psychology while trying to figure out why Bay Staters care so much about baseball. After deciding that psychology required “too much reading” and switching his major to theater, he formed a sketch-comedy group with a couple other classmates.
“Comedy just took over from there,” he said.
Gould describes his brand of joke-telling as self-deprecating and sociological, saying he tries to make fun of himself through the lens of societal trends.
“Like, why do I look at my ex-girlfriend’s Instagram every day?” he said. “It’s not like I’ve ever done it and been like, ‘That was good. I’m happy I did that.’”
He also enjoys physical humor, adding that he grew up admiring the comedic work of Chris Farley and Michael Richards.
“You can spend months crafting the perfect joke,” he said, “but will anything ever be funnier than watching someone trip over a couch?”
Although Gould has good memories of living in Santa Monica, he said, he settled in New York because he has many family members there and because he’s always felt a deep connection to the city.
He recently co-wrote and starred in “Tips for a Happier & Healthier You,” a streaming Comedy Central series. In the first episode, Gould gets distracted while teaching a new yoga pose.
“It’s about a self-help guide whose advice is more for him than for the viewer,” he said.