You’d be hard-pressed to find a stand-up comedian — a good one, anyway — that doesn’t drop at least a little bit of sadness, anger or some form of edge into his act. It just seems part of the package; well-adjusted, incredibly happy people most times make bad comics.
And it’s not that comedian Nick Swardson is well-adjusted — he’s far from it.
It’s just that he lacks that overt troubled-artist demeanor; instead, he’s happy to deliver the bulk of his joke repertoire as a 12-year-old boy trapped in a 31-year-old’s body.
At times, the recipe works — especially when Swardson uses his boyish wonderment to create absurd adult-themed — “what if” bits, like when he examines alcoholism: “I wonder if wine coolers ever just fucked somebody’s life up — just took somebody down,” he says. “Hi, my name is Nick, and kiwi-strawberry ruined my life.”
It works even better when he tells the crowd at the Tempe Improv about the time he bought a “sounds of the ’80s CD,” only to realize upon getting it in the mail that it was filled with sounds of the 1580s and that it was just a recording of one man talking:
“Winter’s coming again,” Swardson narrates. We don’t have much time. Father’s got small pox. He’s not going to make it, I know it. We’re got to find food. Where are the horses? I can’t feel my legs! Is there a God in this world!?!”
“Ok, I can’t dance to that. Is there a club remix to ‘I Can’t Feel My Legs’?”
His boyish charms start to wear thin during his third or fourth poop joke. He jokes about feeding his cat diarrhea; he spins a tale about his house being haunted by a farting ghost; he uses the expression “shit factory” in one of his punch lines and a closing skit featuring David Spade finds Spade’s character, Mindy, farting uncontrollably in an elevator.
But, in his defense, with his laid-back, stoner-like, stuffy-nosed delivery, Swardson never claims to be breaking down the walls of stand-up comedy or leaving an audience with something to think about.
Party is a lighthearted, largely funny collection of Swardson’s now classic bits (his John Stamos funeral joke, grandmother stories and his faux anecdote about his friend stabbing a guy in the face are all finally captured on disc) and his newer, if not better, material. While it clearly isn’t designed for repeated listens, Party no doubt deserves a spot in your growing comedy collection.