Wild cards Tim Swindle and Dave Mazurek

Tim Swindle and Dave Mazurek “We want people to have fun,” says Tim Swindle (left) of the purpose behind the card game he developed with fellow University of Illinois alumnus Dave Mazurek (right). (Photo by Kris Kasperek)
Tim Swindle and Dave Mazurek turned a weekend pastime into a party game sold nationwide.

Imagine a pirate saying, “Of course I’m qualified to be your birth doula—I’m a magician with over 30 years of experience” or “I’m an elite-level yelper, so yeah, I know what I’m saying about sandwiches.” Which sounds funnier? That’s a question you might face while playing Utter Nonsense, which pairs humorous accents with outrageous phrases (many unfit for print here). Tim Swindle ’02 BUS (whom we interviewed) invented the card game during lake house get-togethers with Dave Mazurek ’03 BUS—the two met as members of rival University of Illinois fraternities. Now you can buy Utter Nonsense at 1,800 Target stores as well as online at both Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

How did you decide to commercialize?
Dave and I were having a drink on New Year’s Day 2014. We’d just played Cards Against Humanity. We were thinking about creative outlets. I said, ‘Wait a second—we’ve already been playing a game we could probably turn into something.’

What was the biggest challenge?
The content. These phrases may seem simple, but I can’t tell you the amount of time we spent poring over every word, thinking, ‘Is this going to be funny?’ We hired a great group of writers, including a senior writer for Tosh.0 and a couple UI alums. We have writers who are African American, Jewish, female, male … from the East Coast, Midwest, West Coast. You can pick up the flavor of those backgrounds and cultures from the game.

How do you divide the workload?
From the beginning, Dave did back-end operations—accounting, dealing with manufacturers. My role is more upfront—sales, marketing, strategy. My sister Shannon, director of operations, straddles both areas. I’m an executive at a software company, and Dave is a commercial real estate developer; we don’t have any intention of leaving those jobs.

What motivates you?
People posting on social media, ‘You made our Christmas because getting together with the family wasn’t as boring as usual.’ We want people to have fun. Getting those types of messages makes us happy—even more so than the Target deal, honestly.