It has been almost six years since Nick Swardson’s last stand-up special, Seriously, Who Farted?, aired on Comedy Central. It doesn’t feel like it has been that long since the party-loving comic was telling us about his insane terms for the off-chance that he’d commit suicide, but it has and he is long overdue for another special. Especially since he and/or Comedy Central decided to deprive us of a third season of Pretend Time. That was just cruel.
Thank the comedy gods, Swardson is back on Saturday, May 30, at 10 p.m ET on Comedy Central with the brand spanking new special, Taste It. Longtime fans of the Minnesota native should be pleased to know that the press release for Taste It features the phrase “fresh takes on booze, chicks and diarrhea,” so no one has to worry that Swardson has graduated to jokes about kids or even being an adult. And this special is just the icing on a great month for Swardson, because he’s still glowing from the best piece of news any Minnesota Timberwolves fans have received in a long, long time.
First and foremost, congrats on your T-Wolves getting the No. 1 pick. Now your team will have three consecutive No. 1 picks, so that must be pretty exciting.
I’m pretty stoked, I was in the middle of my day and kind of out of it from doing press, and I got the text and I was stoked. It’s pretty sick.
How have the Wolves not embraced you like the Raptors embraced Drake? They could host Nick Swardson night and make special alternate jerseys just for you.
That’s a great question. I’m going to have to take that up with them. I should be the ambassador or whatever dumb f*cking title he has. The Timberwolves tried to charge me for courtside tickets and I was like, “Guys, I believe we’re 50 games below .500. I don’t think you should be charging me for courtside tickets.”
The standard descriptions that we receive for comedy specials involve some sort of spin on the phrase “so and so offers his unique perspective on today’s world,” while the description for Taste It just straight up mentions “chicks and diarrhea.” How nice is it to be able to just be yourself and be honest with your comedy?
It’s great, I don’t take it too seriously, and I never have. The last special was called Seriously, Who Farted? so it’s just fun. You get these questions like, “What’s your special about? What are you doing? What are you talking about?” I’m like, “Drinking and diarrhea.” I don’t know what else to say. It’s fun to be in that position where my shows are just fun and there’s nothing more to it.
Most comics that we talk to have a different approach to preparing for specials like this, whether it be hitting small clubs to test material or taking LSD and seeing what happens next. How did you prepare for Taste It? Do you treat it any differently than a normal stand-up show?
I’ve chipped away at it for a few years and it took me a while, because I was busy with my show, Pretend Time. I did three movies back-to-back-to-back and got really slammed, and I just kind of let it play out and hoped that stories came. I worked out at clubs and it was pretty intimidating because my last special did well and was pretty well-received, so to start from scratch again with a new special is daunting because there are a lot of expectations. Whenever you get on stage, people are like, “Holy f*ck Nick Swardson’s here, holy f*ck!” and then I don’t want them leaving like, “Well, that was horrible!” It’s a tricky process working on new material, and it’s pretty intimidating, but I was somehow able to get it done and I have no f*cking idea how that happened.
How do you develop new material? Are you constantly writing and then performing or do you just trust what’s good and what works?
I was never the disciplined writer that sat down and brainstormed, because I just always kind of improvise everything in my head. I would have an idea and then kind of riff it out in my head and then go on stage and riff it out some more.
In this ongoing period or era of manufactured outrage and the Twitter activists who target comics for their “offensive” jokes, do you ever find people coming after you over your humor?
No, I was never a guy who did stuff to be shocking. I’ll think of jokes that are kind of insane or sort of intense and I’ll think, “Should I Tweet that? No, because it’s not worth it.” My Twitter account is just fun and for a good time. The jokes are just simple. I Tweeted the other day…
It’s just stupid, you know? A lot of comics do say crazy sh*t, and if you want to say crazy sh*t people will get offended by it. It’s out to the world and this crowd in front of you.
How did you get into stand-up? What made you want to get on stage and make people laugh?
I started acting in high school and it was really well-received, and my teacher thought I was very good. I was obsessed with Jim Carrey in high school, so we wrote an original play and I played this character who was sort of broad and big like Jim, and I just killed. I just f*cking killed and my theater teacher was like, “Holy sh*t, that was insane. You should stick with it.” So, then this improv company came through and did a show and they were having young people audition. I auditioned with a friend of mine and we both got it, and I started doing professional improv in high school when we were like 15.
Then the company folded and I didn’t have an outlet. I graduated high school, so I was like, “F*ck it, I’ll try stand-up.” To me, stand-up seemed a lot easier than improv, when you didn’t know what you were going to say or people were going to say around you. With stand-up I had complete control of what I said, how I wanted to say it, whenever I wanted to say it. I went to an open mic by myself, wrote out a routine, did it, and f*cking killed. I was immediately hooked. It was so intense. I became completely engrossed in stand-up, like obsessed with it. I watched everybody, I taped it… it was crazy.
You and other actors have said in the past that Adam Sandler’s movies aren’t made with the critics in mind, and obviously your fans recognize and love that, while some people don’t. What it is like for you guys when you make a movie like Don’t Mess with the Zoltan, That’s My Boy, or now The Ridiculous 6?
It’s really fun. Adam makes sure that he works with people who are really cool. There are no egos. If you have an ego around Adam, he will just gravitate away from that. There are people who have worked on his movies before, that I’ve heard stories about, and they’ve had really thick egos, and he never worked with them again. He was like, “F*ck that guy” or “F*ck that chick.” Adam creates a good mood on set and he’s a laid back guy, but he also works very hard, which is a big misconception. It’s not just one big party on set. Adam works really hard and oversees the whole thing and he can get mad. People think it’s a party, but we’re still making a movie.
We also touched on his time as Terry on Reno 911!, but you’re going to have to wait for that (foreshadowing!). In the meantime, check out Nick Swardson’s Taste It Saturday at 10 p.m. ET on Comedy Central.