Pretend Time creator Nick Swardson returns for a second season of outrageous comedy [Interview]

A lot of sketch comedy shows like to play it safe and appeal to the mainstream, but that’s not where Nick Swardson's Pretend Time lives. The brainchild of stand-up comedian Nick Swardson and former Human Giant director Tom Gianas, Pretend Time debuted in 2010 with seven raucous episodes that featured sketches about treasure maps on scrotums, a paralyzed cat in a wheelchair, Gay Robot, and a sexual harassment seminar for workers in a Mexican donkey show.


Not a second of Pretend Time is tame; it's perversely funny and definitely unlike any other sketch show airing today.  Aside from Gay Robot (which originated as a Adam Sandler comedy album sketch), Pretend Time was pretty far removed from what Swardson’s fans had to come to expect from the popular touring comedian and character actor and that made the out-there series a bit of a tough sell.

Regardless, Pretend Time earned a sophomore season which debuts tonight (Wednesday, October 5 at 10:30 pm on Comedy Central). TV Geek Army talked exclusively to Swardson about what he learned from Pretend Time’s first season, what characters will return in Season Two, and the perils of social media fandom.

There is every kind of sketch show on TV nowadays, so what did you want to do with Pretend Time to set it apart from the pack?

Nick Swardson: The main thing that attracted me to the show was these segueways and the flowing energy of it. I just wanted to create something different. The first season was incredibly difficult because we didn’t get a pilot so we just had a six-episode order right away. We had no way of learning and we just jumped right into the season.  With those transitions, navigating through that was more challenging than [Tom and I] had anticipated. I’m really excited about the second season because we worked a lot of those kinks out. I also went in knowing what I was getting myself into and we really attacked it this season.

Part of the Season One learning curve was that you didn’t really have an official writing staff so a lot of the writing fell on your shoulders. Were you able to hire writers for Season Two or at least write in advance of production?

Swardson: Yeah I wrote a lot in advance. We had a great writing staff this season; a revolving door of people coming in and helping out. They were really incredible. This season was a lot more fun because we did generate a lot of ideas and content early so we could hit the ground running. We made the show really, really aggressive; there are some really aggressive moments this season I am proud of. I dunno, this is kind of the show I really wanted to make. It’s got more of a stand-up element and storytelling vibe. It’s a little bit more accessible even though it’s filthier, so it’s good.

Did feedback from the show’s fans influence the sketches you wrote for this season?

Swardson: This show is difficult because my career is kind of bizarre in the sense that I’ve done stand-up for years with specials and albums. On TV, I’ve done recurring characters like on Reno: 911. Then I’ve done 30 movies but with Pretend Time it’s completely different. My fans have been extremely loyal but they’re also a little confused because they don’t know what to expect.

With Pretend Time, I don’t think people understood what I was trying to do. People that liked me for my stand-up were like, “This show isn’t standup; we don’t like it!” No, it’s different. I’m trying something different, outside the box and a little bit crazier. It’s a tricky age to live in because with Twitter and Facebook people don’t let anything resonate anymore. Immediate feedback is how they feel. I would go on Twitter and after the first episode people were like “The show sucks!” Well, you can’t say the show sucks when you just watched two sketches. It’s frustrating for me as someone who creates this stuff. Give it a chance! It’s psychotically unfair to me. Especially with sketch, every sketch is different in its own world, with its own universe and energy. The people who love my show, it really means a lot to me. I get really excited when people come up and say, “Pretend Time is my favorite!” It means a lot to me.

Season One featured Gay Robot and Wheelchair Cat. Will we see them again or an emergence of new recurring characters?

Swardson: There are recurring characters for sure and some new ones. Gary Gaga, Wheelchair Cat, and this character Creepio have all come back. I don’t know if we’ll do a Season Three but I’m really psyched about this season. It’s got a good balance and flow.

You mentioned in other interviews that Comedy Central’s Standards and Practice’s department was all over you last year. Did that change how you wrote for Season Two or did you push it even more?

Swardson: I just push it as far as I can. Having your own show, why not? Why not push it as far as you can? I like doing things that are out there. I like those moments where people are like, “Oh my god, did you f-ing see that?” To me that is super fun, ya know?

Did you ever have a Pretend Time sketch killed by S&P?

Swardson: No, me and Tom Gianas have worked in sketch forever. We are pretty savvy and we know what they’re going to kill. I tailor and wrote everything so we could dance around Standards and Practices. We’re not that delusional that we’ll write a sex scene and be like, “Why can’t we show these people having sex?” We’re not that retarded. At this point, we know how to navigate those waters.

What’s on the horizon for you writing wise? Our readers want a sequel to Grandma’s Boy!

Swardson: I am kind of playing it by ear right now. I’m focusing on writing a script right now. I have two more in development at Adam (Sandler’s) company [Happy Madison]. There are no plans for Grandma’s Boy 2, for sure. But me and the director (Nicholaus Goossen) are trying to pair off on some new films so we’re developing those right now. The screenplay I am writing right now, I’m really excited about. There will be more coming down the pike but I don’t know what’s going to happen with Pretend Time. We’ll have to see.

New episodes of Pretend Time air after South Park on Comedy Central Wednesdays at 10:30 p.m. (EST/PST)

By Tara Bennett

About the author

is an author (The Lost Encyclopedia), a national entertainment journalist and a media studies adjunct professor at Rowan University. She's been a film, TV and pop culture junkie for as long as she can remember and she's got the old TV Guide's to prove it. Pray for her thighs as she spends far too much time at her desk writing or her couch watching what she loves.

More From Tara Bennett

Executive producer David X. Cohen talks to us exclusively about the end of the brilliant animated cult series.
Read More
Masochist TV: why do we go back?
Read More
Creator Bryan Fuller and star Hugh Dancy share some tasty insight on their brand new horror series.
Read More
1 Comment
On: Wednesday, October 5, 2011
Eric - TV Geek Army "Revered Leader" said:

We are huge fans of Swardson here at TVGA, and I honestly believe that Pretend Time ranks with his greatest (and most twisted and hilarious) work. 

And seriously: I swear on my Mad Men shrine (okay... Christina Hendricks) that I have been pining for the return of Creepio. Praise be! 

Fantastic interview Tara -- loved learning about the show's dealings with S&S at com central -- this show pushes boundaries for cable television comedy, and the fact that there was no pilot and Nick had to do most of the writing really shows off what a remarkable achievement Season One was. 

We will be watching Pretend Time tonight !


Email (Will not be used):


characters left

Featured Articles

Popular Today


Recent Comments

"Mysterion Rises" with The Cute Lord Cthulhu - South Park review
Actually, the birthing of Kenny in "Cartman Joins NAMBLA" doesn't necessarily conflict with the circumstances of Kenny's reincarnation...
Alien Encounters, "The Message": a hard to find little show that's worth the search
Mind Reading Technologies and Tongues Governments from around the world have been using mind reading technologies that can read...
Dog The Bounty Hunter, "And Baby Makes Three": revisiting an old favorite
i do like your show i wish can be your fan club i want all of your show on dvd please
Boardwalk Empire, "Two Boats and a Lifeguard": daddy issues
Are you looking for a partner for the relationship or for fun? Then you came to the right place. We are providing you the best dating...
The Boonies: National Geographic's off the grid reality exploit
I can verify Bear Claw. Good man. I cant vouch for the other participants. It is to bad society does suck so bad that this type...
The Boonies: National Geographic's off the grid reality exploit
Lake Michigan is not an ocean. Has anyone seen my white dog? Lost him while hiking in Arkansas
The Boonies: National Geographic's off the grid reality exploit
I too also as well live on the island, I can attest that Dan lives in the ocean as he has for hundreds of decades. We locals call...
Parks and Recreation: why is everyone so mean to Jerry?
It's funny because its so not funny.
The Boonies: National Geographic's off the grid reality exploit
I too live on the island and ISLANDER does not know what they are talking about. Dan lives out in the middle of the island with...
The Boonies: National Geographic's off the grid reality exploit
this is not real i know that goat and it is not "doc's" its my neighbors goat. and by the way i live on the very top of that mountain...