Nick Swardson/Star Tribune photo by Tom Wallace
Every once and a while, Adam Sandler gets the urge to shelve his doofus persona and tackle material with more depth. "Punch-Drunk Love" and "Funny People" come to mind. One of his prize students, Nick Swardson, may very well have the same itch, but in his 20-plus career he has yet to scratch it -- and he certainly wasn't going to start Friday night at Mystic Lake Casino where his loud and proud fans sold out his one-night stand in 20 minutes.
Swardson, who got his start doing open-mike nights at Minneapolis's Acme Comedy Co., has developed into a savvy stage performer, confidently commanding the casino's almost comically vast stage. His opening, in which he imagines being introduced on stage to Adele's "Hello," included a brilliant send-up of Wayne Newton in Las Vegas, punctuated with cuddling in the front row. He practically promised each and every spectator that he would join them in a round of shots.
But Swardson's material is still rooted in the mind of a naughty teenager. A good chunk of his 70-minute performance took scatalogical humor to a new high -- or low, depending on how much you giggle at the vision of an ice skater suffering from diarrhea.
Swardson promises a loose show upfront and he holds up his end of the bargain, bouncing from one anecdote to another, almost all of which involve how his juvenile behavior -- ridiculing his beloved Vikings on Twitter, having a bowel movement on his friend's floor -- got him into trouble. These bits are glammed up a bit by name dropping famous pals like David Spade and Jennifer Aniston, but potty humor is potty humor.
This speciality may not make Swardson a regular on the awards circuit, but few comics today tackle the territory with such polish and conviction.
There's always the possibility that Swardson will dig deeper when he returns to the area June 21 for a Trasure Island Casino show with Sandler, Spade and Rob Schneider. But don't bet on it.