Nick Swardson's Pretend Time debuts next Tuesday, October 12th at 10PM on Comedy Central. Gawker.TV set aside some time yesterday afternoon to ask him about car beds, cats in wheelchairs, lady parts and homosexuality.
[Generally, your first thought when finding out you're going to interview Nick Swardson is, "I'll call up a videographer and ask Nick one question per bar. Just go bar hopping with the the guy and see if I can survive." While that dream was not satiated due to separation by thousands of miles of phone cord, it was that very cord that made this interview happen. Excellent work, phone cord.]
Hey, what's up dude?
Not too much. How are you doing today?
I'm good, man. It's fucking cold in L.A. right now. It's crazy.
I'm sorry to hear that. I just have a couple of questions. You ready?
Yeah man. Totally.
Your birthday is in four days and Pretend Time premieres in a week. Are you about to have the best week ever?
I don't know man, we'll see. I think so—it should be pretty intense. I hope I survive it. I'm going to be in New York on my birthday so...I'll probably wake up in the Statue of Liberty's vagina or something.
What do you want for your birthday? I guess, besides to wake up inside a vagina?
I want a season two for Pretend Time.
That seems like a decent wish. A lot of the transitions on Pretend Time are reminiscent of The State. Was that a conscious decision or is that something that just sort of happened?
It's actually based on my buddy who created a show as an SNL writer that he, well, he created the show Human Giant. And it was actually based on a show that he did at Second City years ago where they would fade out and segue into the next sketch. He based it more on his show, Pinata full of Bees, which he did at Second City. So it wasn't based on The State.
Are you happy to finally have a home for Gay Robot?
Yeah! So happy. It's really good: doing it in sketch form, we can do a quick burst of Gay Robot, make him as crazy we want to. Yeah, I'm really thrilled.
Was Wheelchair Cat created to be a standalone show like Gay Robot, or did you write it as part of the beginnings of Pretend Time?
My friend wrote it. One of the writers came up with it and we loved it. That's something that could be an interesting TV show on its own. We'll see. I think Wheelchair Cat will be the new Gay Robot where maybe we could spin off and be a juggernaut on TV.
You got your start doing improv and worked your way into stand-up and acting. Do you miss improv and stand-up or are they fundamental for what you do?
Improv kind of goes hand in hand with what I do. I was on Reno 911! for six years and that was a completely improvised show. I was able to use those muscles but I've kind of been out of the stand-up game for a little bit now. I've been doing my show and I've done a handful of movies. I'm a little rusty with stand-up so I'm trying to get back into and write a new act, see what else I have to say on stage—if anything. If there's anything left.
You just mentioned Reno 911!. A lot of your best-known characters—including Gay Robot, Terry on Reno 911!—are gay. Do you find it easier to get laughs talking with a lisp or do you just always end up going there?
No, with Reno 911! I kind of created that character and I didn't know the show was going to be on for six years. Is that my phone or yours? Do you hear that?
No...I'm using mine.
Are you having a seizure?
It was staticky for a second. It's not meant for cheap laughs. It's just a character we did for the first season of Reno and I didn't think the show was going to go on for six years and spawn a movie. I was kind of married to that character. I was like, "Oh, fuck," but it's not meant to get cheap laughs. They both just kind of happened somehow.
Are there any other characters you're excited about on Pretend Time, besides Wheelchair Cat?
Yeah. There's a lot of stuff. I don't want to give anything away, but there's a bunch of shit. That's one of the reasons I was psyched to do this show—to show more of a range. People just knew me for years for Reno 911!, Grandma's Boy and Blades of Glory. So it's a chance to branch out from stuff people have seen me do ad nauseam. I kind of psyched for people to see the new shit that's just ridiculous.
You kind of have a reputation for partying pretty hard. Do you have a favorite bar or do you just like the ones that have alcohol?
I have so many favorite bars. I'm like Norm from Cheers in like 50 bars in L.A. I don't give a fuck, I just like bars. I'm just a big fan. It's weird, it hasn't really slowed down, either. I thought, "Oh, yeah. I'm sure I'll get tired of it at some point," but nope. I just love it. I love it.
What was the decision behind the car bed in Grandma's Boy? Do you have a car bed still?
No, I came up with the character and created all of his shit. I don't know, I just wanted to have this dude who lived this arrested development kind of lifestyle where he still lives with his parents and doesn't acknowledge it—all the throwbacks to being a kid. The onesie pajamas, the car bed—all that stuff just made me laugh. This kid, who's like a fucking guy of 28, but is still living like a five year-old just made me laugh.
Do you feel that way being Nick Swardson? Is that something that happens regularly or did you decide to take it to the extreme?
I took it to the extreme. When you live the life of a comedian, it's such a state of arrested development. I can't deal with anything very maturely. I'm still really bad at paying bills or doing anything that would be considered semi-adult. I'm really bad at it. It's weird I can create and run a TV show but I can't pay my phone bill.
So then you would consider yourself responsible enough to work all the way through a second season?
I think I could pull that off. I hope so, but my phone and my electricity won't be on.
The sacrifices we have to make.
That's about all I've got. We hope you have a fantastic week.
Thanks a lot, man. I hope the show works and I hope people like it. I hope to continue doing it, but it's out of my hands now. We'll see what happens.
We certainly hope they do, too. Thank you very much for your time.
All right, thanks a lot dude.