Comedian Nick Swardson flushes out new jokes at the Roosevelt Hotel ahead of his Toilet Head Tour

Nick Swardson

Comedians are sorta known for being full of crap — typically in a funny way that shouldn’t be taken seriously when they’re performing. For 30 years, Nick Swardson has pushed his level of absurdity to epic heights on stage — maybe a little too high sometimes (especially during a recent set in Colorado when an edible left him unable to finish his set). Pot-related brain farts aside, fans of Swardson’s raunchy bathroom jokes or any number of the quotable lines from “Reno 911” or movies like “Grandma’s Boy” know that his comedy relies on the ability to commit to the bit.

This summer, Swardson prepares to hit the road on his national Toilet Head Tour ahead of his new special, “Make Joke From Face,” premiering on YouTube July 18. He gave Southern California fans a sneak peek of his new tour material Wednesday at the Roosevelt Hotel for a headlining show and fan Q&A dubbed “The Interview Series,” presented by Can’t Even Comedy. He will perform Friday at Cabazon‘s Morongo Casino.

Recently, The Times caught up with the comedian to talk about his new hour of material, Gen Z discovering him through his old work on screen and on how comedy has changed since he started making audiences laugh in the ‘90s.


What sort of new material are you preparing to flush out on stage for your upcoming Toilet Head Tour?

I talk about a lot of the same topics that I usually do, but I’m trying to stay away from certain things. … I don’t party like I used to, I don’t drink like I used to, so I want to get away from that image where people think I’m like some lunatic. I don’t do drugs — I mean I did edibles in Colorado, and that ended up on the ... news — the one time! There’s like so many horrific things going on in the world and they just decided to put me on blast for getting too high and Colorado? Like I took an ... edible which is my fault and it was stupid. But in my new act, I have a diarrhea joke of course, I talked about Norm MacDonald, and I talk about a bunch of true stories — it’s just silly. My act is a good time, it’s not political, I don’t have an agenda. I’m exactly how I am onstage as I am offstage. And people always mentioned that it’s just like a real show and it’s just fun and silly and it’s like, let’s have a good time man, life’s too short.

What’s it like to see Gen Z fans discovering you from your old movies and TV shows from the early to mid-2000s? What do you think makes those roles timeless?

Yeah, I’m always shocked when I meet people in their 20s and they’re like, “We love Reno 911!” And I’m like, “How do you even know about that?” It’s amazing, but, yeah, those roles were all so great. I’ve done so much insanity, and I always tell young actors and comedians that you gotta commit 110% to what you’re doing on stage and on camera. You have to be willing to completely lose your ... mind. Like when you watch guys like Will Ferrell and he’s running around streaking in “Old School.” When I did the movie “Bucky Larson,” I was naked; I did “A Haunted House, ” I was naked in that too. Whether it was “Blades of Glory” or “The Benchwarmers,” in all of these movies I just got crazy and I just had to commit to it. You can’t leave anything behind in comedy. You’ve gotta be 110% committed to what you’re doing.

Man in a trucker hat with fingers pointing up
This summer, Swardson prepares to hit the road on his national Toilet Head Tour ahead of his new special, “Make Joke From Face,” premiering on YouTube July 18.

Coming from the comedy world of the mid-’90s how do you feel seeing all the different lanes comics can use to get their name out there?


It’s funny that you say that because I started stand up comedy Feb. 12, 1996. When I started, everybody was like, “Oh, comedy’s dead.” This was after the ‘80s had such a major comedy boom. I was making no money, there was no internet, my family was poor, I was raised by a single mother for the most part. And it was like, we just had to do one-nighters in biker bars for a hundred bucks. We had nothing! I always tell kids that and I feel like I’m a caveman talking about making fire. They’ll complain about things like, ‘Well, how do I do this? How do I do this?’ I tell them to get on YouTube and Instagram, make videos, make shorts, make an IG reel and use that as a calling card. I used to have to sleep in my car. You guys don’t have to do that. There’s so many avenues, you just have to be motivated and creative. I’m happy for young comics. It’s such a crazy boom right now on; everyone’s killing it. It’s a really exciting time.

Do you also see it as a daunting time because of the reliance on social media or the taboos coming from cancel culture that didn’t exist as much back when you started?

Comedians can say whatever we want, and you’ve got to commit to it, and you’ve got to stand by it. If you’re gonna put something out there, you can’t pull back. Comedians are the last resort of just calling s— out. So when you try to censor me, I’ve done this for 30 years, I don’t blink an eye. Don’t tell me what to do. Don’t tell me what I can’t say on stage. ... So if you’re offended, leave my show. And why are you here? Real comedians double down. When you tell the class clown growing up “Hey, don’t do that!” guess what that kids gonna do? He’s gonna go harder.

The only pressure is when you become an established comedian. I put a lot of pressure on myself to make sure my shows are great, because every time you do a new hour, you think that’s your last one, so it’s a little stressful. When you’re established people are like “I bet Swardson is gonna go insane and make me piss my pants.” So that pressure is pretty daunting.

You’re also doing movies again, right?

I’m filming “Happy Gilmore 2” and I’m really beyond excited about that, and I’m just finishing up a script with the director of “Grandma’s Boy” for a starring vehicle for me called “Falcon” — and it’s basically a comedy roadhouse and just completely absurd.


What’s been the key for you to be able to keep friendships and working relationships with comics like Adam Sandler and David Spade continuing through the decades?

I mean, it’s been amazing just because we know each other so well. Sandler and I clicked pretty much right away. He gave me the script “Grandma’s Boy” and asked me to rewrite it, and ever since I’ve worked with him and toured with them, and he’s one of my best friends. It is very surreal at this point, because I’ve been friends with them for so long. But sometimes I’ll take a step back and be like, oh, yeah — David Spade, Rob Schneider, Norm MacDonald, these were my best friends, they still are. Because creatively we get each other. I know what Adam’s gonna like, I know what Spade is gonna like. We’re just all on the same page.