One Night Standup with Nick Swardson
Trashwire is growing by leaps and bounds in 2007 and we’re happy to welcome our newest writer, Wil Chinchilla. Wil recently sat down with one of the hottest comedians around, Nick Swardson, to talk about standup, gay robots, and everyone’s favorite roller skating male prostitute. If you want to be cool like Wil and submit stories to Trashwire, click here to go to the submissions page.
Nick Swardson has been doing standup since the age of 19. Since then Swardson has had two half-hour specials on Comedy Central, been a spokesperson for a soft drink, written/co-written three major motion picture scripts, and is currently on a “big standup tour” throughout all improv comedy clubs. On February 17, the very straight (not gay despite certain characters) Swardson performed for a full crowd at the Houston Improv. Walking in with to standing ovation and giving all the fist-pounds he could give, he began the greatest comedy show anyone had ever seen.
Starting off with a verbal newsletter of sorts to all of his fans, Swardson shared some exclusive behind the scenes information of what happened on the set of Grandma’s Boy, and established that real substances were used in depicting druggie video game testers. Later in his act Swardson announced that there will be a sequel with the same characters from Grandma’s Boy and that it is very hard to communicate with Adam Sandler about anything, at all. At the end of an excellent show, with an agreed interview, I proceeded into the greater depths of the Improv to be introduced to my favorite comic, Nicholas Swardson.
Wil: Did you go to college?
Nick: I didn’t go to college. I started standup straight out of high school when I was nineteen.
Wil: I thought you did because in one of your jokes you say “Why did I even go to school? All I say are five words.”
Nick: Yeah, I just constantly make up schools. Then people get excited when I go to their schools. I just say, “I went here!” And everyone is like, “Yeah!”
Wil: Is there a reason why you tour at so many colleges?
Nick: College is my favorite ’cause they’re fun. Tthose are kinda my core fans. They’re the ones that watch Comedy Central. It’s a lot of fun–it’s one show. In a club I have to do like six shows in a week, but college is just one night and I always go out afterwards with crowd and party, it’s crazy.
Wil: Do you feel comedians have a role in shaping how Americans feel about national and international events?
Nick: That’s an interesting question, because it’s a fine line. I think that some people just wanna be funny and don’t get political because you’re just supposed to be funny. But like, Janeane Garofalo is a good friend of mine and she got really political, to the point where she almost just changed her career to being just political and going out against Bush and stuff like that. She gets so much flack for it, you know. People like Lenny Bruce, Isaac [a comedy troupe], and Bill Hicks, are really political and really relevant. I think it depends if you can walk the line of being political and still being funny. David Cross is really political, but he can also tell funny drunk stories and mix it up. It’s a really fine line though. I’ve touched on it in the past, but normally I think that if people come to a comedy club, they want to laugh. I feel like I don’t want to push an agenda on them.
Wil: A video has resurfaced on YouTube of your “Barq’s [Root Beer Soda] has Bite” days
Nick: I know! That’s the crazy thing about the internet!
Wil: Was that your first major media job?
Nick: Yes, that was the first big thing I ever did, and I did it for years. I think I did like ten–twelve commercials for them. That was a trip to see those come back. I was like, “Oh My Gosh!”
Wil: When I saw them recently I remembered I seeing them when I was younger.
Nick: It’s so weird, but I owe everything to those commercials because I got them right when I started standup. I was totally broke and they afforded me to be able to go out on the road and struggle and, like, pay for like hotels and stuff, otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to go out there. So, I owe Barq’s Root Beer my whole stand-up comedy career.
Wil: How do you feel having been the youngest person on Comedy Central to have two half-hour specials?
Nick: It’s cool! I mean, I really didn’t think about that at the time and then somebody told me, but I guess it’s cool. I mean, I’m not like Hank Aaron or something where I’m like, “That record will never be touched!” But, you know, it’s cool.
Wil: Looking back, can you tell me the five minutes that defined your life?
Nick: Five minutes that defined who I am? I would say, maybe when my dad died, like when I found out my dad was gonna die. I think that like really put everything into perspective. It just changes your whole outlook. It changes the whole way you live your life. It changes how you treat other people. So, I mean, that really changed every single aspect in my life.
Wil: Your future projects seem promising; can you tell me what the latest is on Gay Robot in general? I know the pilot got cancelled, so what’s the next move?
Nick: Well, I think we’re gonna take another step and make it animated on Adult Swim and do like a really wigged out cartoon for it. Then, do a movie just so we can build up a bigger following, because I don’t think the pilot on MySpace built up enough to do a whole movie. Plus, what I want to do is a tv show, so I think we’re going to do it animated because it costs too much to have the actual robot. The same guy that built the Terminator built Gay Robot, and I always thought that was so awesome.
Wil: What is your role in the upcoming movie Chuck and Larry?
Nick: I play Jessica Biel‘s gay brother, it’s another gay role. It’s, like insane, so many gay roles (laughing). Sandler asked me to play a gay brother, and I’m like, “I don’t wanna play another gay role.” But then he’s like, “No play it normal. You don’t have to be effeminate like Reno 911!, just play like a normal guy.” So I’m like, “Ok that’s cool, it’s a regular person, not a stereotype.” It’s fun, I get to play Jessica Biel’s brother. It’s a funny part.
Wil: Two films that you have lined up are Blades of Glory and Reno 911!: Miami. How does it feel having two movies with you in them coming out around the same time?
Nick: It’s really cool! I mean, I’m psyched! They’re not close enough where it’s weird. Like, I remember Chris Rock had two movies coming out on the same day and I thought, “That would stress me out.” But I’m excited about both projects, so its really cool.
Wil: Everyone seeing you tonight at the Improv is here because of two characters that you’ve made us love, Terry! and Jeff. Which one is your favorite?
Nick: That’s hard. I mean, Jeff was great because I got to write it, but Terry is all improvised so that’s fun too. It’s hard to say. I gues I would say Terry because it’s so silly and I’ve been doing it for so long. I’m more married to that character, which is fun. I’ve done it for five years now. Jeff was a one-time deal, which was a blast, but Terry I’ve done for so long and he just makes me laugh.
Wil: On the subject of Terry: can you define what it is like portraying a gay, roller-skating, male prostitute on Reno 911!?
Nick: The funny thing about it is that it’s such a crazy character. I love it! I have a blast, because you can say the craziest stuff. To me I really don’t dwell on the gay thing with Terry. For me, it’s more just, him trying to get out of situations and lying. Being so naïve is the fun part about Terry. It’s like, “Terry what where you doing?” “What, Im just allergic to roofs.” He just says the craziest stuff so it’s just fun lying.
Wil: Will we see [Showbiz Show with David Spade character] Scotty Kangaroojus ever again?
Nick: Maybe. David Spade wants me to come back, but it’s just another gay character, and it’s kinda similar to Terry, so I don’t feel like I’m doing anything different. It is fun though because David is one of my best friends, so we try to make each other laugh. I might try to come up with something else.
Wil: Do you practice your facial expressions?
Nick: I don’t. I’m just in the moment; I go by whatever they throw at me.
Wil: Grandma’s Boy has mainly been considered by critics as a “cult-classic for stoners and video game fan boys”. What is your view on Grandma’s Boy?
Nick: I would disagree. I love Grandma’s Boy and I think it’s definitely a cult-classic, but the critics were horrible to us. Most of the critics said that it was the biggest piece of shit ever made, the worst movie ever made, Adam Sandler did a favor for his friends to make it, they just trashed us. I got into a big fight with the critics and emailed guys back and told them to fuck off. I mean, we got into a whole big thing. But, you know, it is what it is. We made it, the fans love it, and critics are such assholes. The DVD is blowing up and people really respond to it. That’s all I really care about.
Wil: What do you prefer, acting, writing, or stand-up?
Nick: I like them all. I think they all like feed each other. I really don’t like one better than the other. I mean, I like doing movies, and I like going to do stand-up and people loving the movies and knowing my stand-up.
Wil: Has there ever been a comedian you have considered a bully?
Nick: No. There have been famous comics where I thought they have done things that were kinda lame, but no one has ever fucked with me. I’ve seen some things, but most people are really cool.
Wil: Do you feel you’re in the loop of success with comics such as Jim Gaffigan and David Cross?
Nick: I mean, as far as stand up, I’ve known these guys for years, so it’s not like, “Finally I know all these guys.” I’ve known these guys literally for years, I’ve started with all these guys, I’ve known Jim Gaffigan, I started with Dane Cook, and I’ve known all those guys. For me it’s almost like a high school, where I’ve grown up with people and now that you see them at different levels of success it’s cool and exciting. I’m happy for Dane and Gaffigan and those guys. I mean, acting wise, I’m getting more into branching out, meeting people like Will Farrell and knowing guys like that, so it’s cool being in another circle that way. But as far as standup, I’ve known these retards my whole life.
Wil: Is there anyone you would like to work with in the future that you haven’t already?
Nick: Umm, I don’t know, I mean I’ve worked with Adam Sandler, David Spade, all those guys. I would like to do something with [Ben] Stiller. Stiller and I might do something this year. I would like to work with him; I think Ben’s really funny. With the Will Farrell movie, I didn’t have any scenes with Will, so I would actually like to do something with Will.
Wil: We all know the comedy greats of history are Richard Pryor, Eddie Murphy, Bill Hicks, etc. Are there any others that are more obscure that you really like?
Nick: There’s a guy, Dana Gould, who I think is really underrated. He was kind of one of my inspirations. He’s a producer for The Simpsons now, and he’s a brilliant stand up. He’s had a bunch of specials and he is just really great. I think people should know Woody Allen‘s old stand up is brilliant. Also Brian Regan is really great. He’s really funny.
Wil: If you could bring one person from history back to life, who would it be and why?
Nick: Anna Nicole Smith…just…cause.
You can pick up Grandma’s Boy on DVD now or catch Nick Swardson in Blades of Glory, Chuck and Larry, and Reno 911!: Miami in theaters. You can also see him as Terry in the new season of Reno 911! on Comedy Central. Nick Swardson is definitely a comic for our generation and his distinctive style is loved an adored by many, and hopefully many more in the future.