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STUDIO: Comedy Central
RUNNING TIME: 58 min
A Very Terry Christmas
28 Drinks Later
Nick Swardson: A Timeless Comedian
Opening Act: Dirt Nasty and Beardo
Love hanging out with wasted upper-middle class white dudes, but your local sports bar has crappy drink specials? Fear not, Nick Swardson can now come to your home!
Nick (RENO 911!, Grandma’s Boy) Swardson, a crowd with perhaps a tablespoon of clean urine between them, two of the strongest pro-choice arguments ever to grasp a microphone.
Swardson likes to drink, which has resulted in a few funny stories.
It took me some time to decide if I was impressed or really unimpressed with Nick Swardson as a comedian. I eventually decided I am a fan, but he lacks pretty much all the traits which I find elevate the best of his peers; he doesn’t have a strong or unique energy as a performer, his jokes aren’t particularly sharp in their writing, and he’s a pretty good but not great storyteller. And yet, his stand-up manages to be a funny, enjoyable way to spend an hour, and he seems to appeal broadly to both the geeky and frat boy crowds. How does he pull this off?
Amiability, would be the short answer. Swardson is very easy to like, and again I find it easier to explain this by way of what he doesn’t do rather than what he does. He’s very positive in his attitude, whereas many comics rely heavily on negativity as both fuel and a comedic shortcut. For example, most comedians would take the easy route with a bit about Transformers and build it around trashing the movie (it does suck, after all). But it’s telling of Swardson’s attitude that he’d rather talk about how you could not have even released it in the 50s, because society was not prepared for a level of awesomeness we are quick to sneer at today.
anticlimactic first round pin fall, it was overall quite daring to
end a comedy show by challenging Hollow Man to a full bout of
He doesn’t have the aggressiveness exhibited by the worst of his fratty brethren (and make no mistake, Swardson is a frat boy, he’s just the slightly effeminate one the other bros call a fag all the time). He never gives off the sense that he finds himself hilarious, that ego that makes me want to viciously stomp Dane Cook or Carlos Mencia’s sperm. But he doesn’t overcompensate and go for the schlubby, “God-I’m-so-disgusting-what’s-wrong-with-me” vibe a lot of contemporary comics fall back on, which is good. That may work for an Oswalt/Posehn/CK type, but with someone as relatively young and good-looking as Swardson, it would ring false. Instead, he comes off as a mostly average joe, not a superstar but definitely “the funny one” of your circle of friends. That may sound like faint praise, but you like hanging out with that guy, don’t you?
The material is more hit than miss, with the slower parts being the several extended stories he tells rather than the smaller “bit” bits. The problem is that while the stories are amusing, it seems like the actual punchlines are never the funniest part, so they end after they’ve already peaked. The show as a whole is the same way, with the final bits being a bit weaker than the earlier stuff. This is nitpicking, however, since on the whole its funny and breezy stuff. If you’re a fan of Swardson, it’s obviously a must, and if you’re a stand-up aficionado, you won’t be disappointed. There is, however, a caveat to come…
It’s a Comedy Central stand-up release, but there’s at least some distinctive period cover art. There’s also several special features, which are a little amusing, but I will go ahead and spoil the best joke from each so you don’t have to spend the time to watch them all.
28 Drinks Later – an elaborate parody of the famous 28 Days Later trailer, where instead of zombies* the population is transformed into raving drunks when Swardson wakes up. It’s kind of impressive in the production values and composition, but could do with some more, y’know, jokes. Best bit: “We have to get to the library! It’s our only shot!”
*Whatever, nerds, they’re close enough.
A Very Terry Christmas – Swardson’s roller-skating prostitute from Reno 911! puts out a holiday album, where he basically mumbles his way through smutty versions of Christmas carols. Best bit: “Santa’s Mandy Cane” (not the song itself, just the title)
Nick Swardson: A Timeless Comedian – a PBS-style look back on the supposed 80+ year career of Swardson, from the Depression through the Def Jam days. Brief, but quite amusing. Best bit: “I was doing African-Americanface. I was the first person to call it that. Everyone was calling it blackface, but I knew that was wrong, even back then.”
Opening Act: Dirt Nasty and Beardo – The opening act is very possibly the worst thing I have ever experienced. I say this as a former Catholic altar boy who has visited concentration camps, witnessed my beloved family dog being put down, and watched as Alzheimers steadily destroyed the basic human identity of family members. As a piece of purported entertainment, it makes noted audience-punishers like Funny Games or Nickelback: the 3-D Experience seem positively genteel. I had to stop the 7 minute performance three times just to get through it once (for a shower, a loooong pull of whiskey, and a ragged, violent crying jag, respectively).
Several days later, I thought that I haven’t done many of these things, and I should really be as conscientious as possible in my work if I want to develop any kind of audience at all. As a reviewer, I do have some responsibility to you, the reader, right? So I made another attempt to given it a proper, continuous viewing. I made it less than two minutes before saying fuck it. I’m sorry, it’s nothing personal, but you guys just aren’t worth this.