Featured review: Nick Swardson’s Pretend Time

By | September 27, 2010 at 11:24 am | One comment | Features | Tags: , ,

Love him or loathe him, it’s hard to undermine the brilliant business savvy of one Nick Swardson. As an all-star comedian with a finger in nearly every piece of the industry pie (yes, I’d like to hope he’ll take that vaguely sexual syntax and run with it to the most depraved place possible), Swardson boasts an innate aptitude for selling himself on a wide scale level. He’s a performer and writer who knows his audience inside and out – a rare staple of the frat funny farm who can probe the esoteric while luring in the pedestrian with cheap laughs and gross-out gags.

In his new Comedy Central sketch series, Nick Swardson’s Pretend Time (premiering Oct. 12 at 10:30 pm EST), Swardson’s imagination runs as wild as the bloody membranes that often coat the scenes. Frequently cited as a comedic messiah among the coveted college-aged demographic, Swardson’s sensibilities toward the inane and the obscene are both expected and prevalent. In fact, this penchant for what’s lewd and shocking sometimes has an unfortunate tendency to distract from the shinier moments for pure comic brilliance and sharp, clever writing. Sketches containing mild elements of social satire, like a scene from the second episode that has the infamous Gay Robot character coming to loggerheads with a closeted homophobe, work very well, and become the more wry, observant portion of Swardson’s brand of comedy. Those that resort to gag-oriented bits, however – shock schlock in its most stripped down, single premise form – feel amateurish and poorly executed.

Nick Swardson’s Pretend Time Tuesday, October 12
Preview – Wheelchair Cat
www.comedycentral.com

Still, the best thing about Pretend Time should come as no surprise to anyone even remotely familiar with Comedy Central’s most famous superstar on roller skates. Swardson has always worn silly very well, and sports an uncanny knack for quirky charisma – the likes of which make it almost impossible to turn away from any character he breathes life into.

And while the early episodes of Pretend Time feel a bit stunted and uneven, the series shows promise as one that’ll grow into its own, if given the necessary room to develop and flourish. But in order to do so, Swardson and his creative team need to lay off the crude and pump up the smarty-pants potential. I know he has it in him: that much is evident from the smart, sly sketches that punctuate the show’s kinetic pacing, and give energy to what might otherwise be dead, lifeless matter. Less Pee-us, more Garry Gaga, Nick. Tune in on Oct. 12 to see what I’m talking about.

Nick Swardson’s Pretend Time Tuesday, October 12
Lady Gaga’s Brother: Garry Gaga
www.comedycentral.com

Bonus words: A partial list of familiar faces you’ll see on Nick Swardson’s Pretend Time (not yet listed on IMDB): Natasha Leggero, Craig Anton, Ryan Phillippe, Owen Benjamin, Mary Scheer, Al Madrigal, Rob Huebel, Finesse Mitchell, Bob Odenkirk.

Bonus video (not going to be on television because, well… you’ll see).

Nick Swardson’s Pretend Time Tuesday, October 12
Propealis
www.comedycentral.com

About the Author

Emma Kat Richardson

Emma Kat Richardson is a Detroit native who received her BA in professional writing and women and gender studies from Elizabethtown College in 2008. Her journalism and feature writing has been published in Alternative Press, Bitch, Punchline Magazine, Bookslut, and Real Detroit Weekly.