Nick Swardson has been doing stand-up comedy since he was 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 stand-up tour throughout improv comedy clubs nationwide. Last year, 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 what turned out to be a fantastic show.
Did you go to college?
I didn't go to college. I started stand-up straight out of high school when I was nineteen.
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."
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!"
Is there a reason why you tour at so many colleges?
College is my favorite 'cause they're fun. Those 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.
Do you feel comedians have a role in shaping how Americans feel about national and international events?
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, 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.
A video has resurfaced on YouTube of your "Barq's [Root Beer Soda] has Bite" days.
I know! That's the crazy thing about the internet!
Was that your first major media job?
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!"
When I saw them recently I remembered I seeing them when I was younger.
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.
How do you feel having been the youngest person on Comedy Central to have two half-hour specials?
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.
Looking back, can you tell me the five minutes that defined your life?
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.
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?
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.
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?
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.
On the subject of Terry: can you define what it is like portraying a gay, roller-skating, male prostitute on Reno 911!?
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 na