TV review: "Nick Swardson's Pretend Time"

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Ever since Dave Chappelle jettisoned his critically acclaimed (and utterly hilarious) sketch comedy show in 2006, Comedy Central has desperately tried to replace its immense presence.

First was "Mind of Mencia," which substituted Chappelle's sharp social commentary with lowest-common-denominator stereotypes. Now, Comedy Central is giving the talented and quirky Nick Swardson ("Grandma's Boy") a shot.

Swardson won my heart as Terry, the male prostitute on roller skates from "Reno 911!" And "Grandma's Boy" - a script he co-wrote - far exceeded my expectations. Granted, expectations were very low, but it's still worth a few laughs.

So I expected Swardson's show to be original and funny, even if it could never compete with Chappelle. Unfortunately, it's not what I expected.

Skits from the first two episodes include a paraplegic cat, sexual harassment training at a donkey show, some very "touchy" paramedics and Swardson's signature internet sensation, the Gay Robot.

Obviously, "Pretend Time" is filled with very low-brow, raunchy humor - which is usually funny in Swardson's hands. But here, the punch lines are predictable and the clever use of crudeness from "Grandma's Boy" is mostly absent.

Through two episodes, there was only one laugh-out-loud moment (involving a subtle stroke during the paramedics sketch), and even though the Gay Robot bits are creative, they're not uproarious.

The only positive is that the second episode was better than the first, despite a major miss with a race sketch. Hopefully there'll be more improvement because there's currently a lack of good sketch comedy in television land. How can you make Bryan Cranston not funny, "SNL?"

"Nick Swardson's Pretend Time"

10 p.m. Tuesdays on Comedy Central

1.5 stars