By Haley Lorenzen
Nick Offerman has stepped back to take a good look at the state of the world.
“I try to make fun of all of us, for the human foibles that have gotten us into the trouble we seem to be in in our country,” Offerman says about his live show, which comes to the Celebrity Theatre on Friday, December 13.
“We live in a place where we supposedly get to pick what happens, and yet everybody’s furious and shaking their fists at each other, and so I take a small step back and say, ‘Wait a second, haven’t we done this to ourselves?’”
The actor, woodworker and humorist is traveling the world with his “All Rise,” during which audiences will experience “an evening of deliberative talking and light dance,” he says.
Throughout the 90-minute show, Offerman weaves seven original songs in between a set of monologues, tackling a myriad of topics.
“I just sit down and think, ‘What do I have strong feelings about? What do I want to talk to the audience about?’ And actually, one of the first things that came to mind was this strange sort of tribal tendency we have to cling to old-fashioned gender roles,” Offerman says.
“Specifically, the ways in which I am often accused of being manly by people, and the ways that men are made fun of by toxic masculinity if we happen to be sensitive to the feelings of others, or if we consider ourselves the allies of people who are being discriminated against.”
Many know Offerman from his performance as Ron Swanson in “Parks and Recreation,” where his portrayal of the no-nonsense, meat-loving, antigovernment director of the parks and recreation department has earned him critical acclaim.
Although the show has been off the air for more than five years, Swanson has become somewhat of an epitome of manliness, but Offerman, who recently released a song entitled “I’m Not Ron Swanson,” says he’s not the character with whom many have come to associate him.
“In the early days of ‘Parks and Recreation,’ about eight or nine years ago, when people didn’t yet have any idea of me, or what I do, people would say to me, ‘We don’t even care if Nick Offerman shows up, we just would love 90 minutes of Ron Swanson on stage,’” he says.
“If you had Ron Swanson come perform an entire show, he probably would refuse to do it. He has no interest in appearing in front of people. If he did, he would probably just build a chair on stage.”
Not only does Offerman want people to know he’s not Swanson, he also says he likes to be known as a humorist, rather than a stand-up comedian.
“Mainly I think humorist sounds funny. It sort of fits into my false pomposity, my sort of demeanor where I’m known for a deadpan style and I say things with a straight face—like, ‘I’m not a comedian, I’m a humorist’—and that seems to go over pretty well,” Offerman says.
“But I will answer to ‘comedian,’ as long as people are laughing, you may call me what you’d like.”
Offerman’s last comedy tour was in 2017, when he took this deadpan style on the road for his “Full Bush” tour. He recently returned from touring as a roadie with his wife’s band, Nancy and Beth, where he began developing “All Rise.” His spouse is the multitalented Megan Mullally.
When he started writing for the tour, Offerman says he was heavily inspired by what he calls the “old-fashioned tribal sensibility.”
“I think almost everybody has empathy in them, but when you take a step back and you say, ‘Should we give some of our tax money to this town in Michigan (Flint) that hasn’t had clean drinking water for years?’ people are like, ‘Well, are they white?’
“It’s that tendency, it’s an old-fashioned tribal sensibility, and so I said, ‘Let me see if I can make fun of that and get some laughs while secretly sneaking some broccoli into the delicious pizza.’”
Offerman also adds the show avoids major political talking points, but says, “I don’t think you can do 90 minutes of comedy these days without at least mentioning the main unavoidable low-hanging fruits occupying the White House.”
Although Offerman is busy touring, he and Mullally launched a podcast on December 2 entitled “In Bed with Nick & Megan.”
Recorded in the couple’s bed, Offerman says some episodes will have special guests. Former “Saturday Night Live” star Bill Hader climbed in for the first episode.
“Some of them are really funny, some of them are deeply unfunny. They’re really serious but fascinating discussions of modern issues,” he says, adding, “It’s Megan’s brainchild. It’s one of the many aspects of my life in which I have the good fortune to ride shotgun.”
Also having dropped on December 2 is “Making It,” a crafting competition show hosted by Offerman and his “Parks and Recreation” costar Amy Poehler, where crafters and creators from around the country take part in different challenges to win $100,000.
Offerman says “Making It” is a “wonderful stroke of fortune.”
“Getting to work on that show with Amy is an absolute dream,” he says. “All of the people, most of whom are powerful ladies who produce that show, make it incredibly cushy for me to show up and act like a jackass and do some cheerleading for these brilliant makers and creative minds, and then I get to eat a sandwich, and then I get to go home.”
Although the tour kicked off in June, Offerman still has several stops left, and says he hopes he can continue to make people laugh while also compelling them to think just a little bit more.
“I feel very lucky that I get to do this for a job,” he says. “I love the live theater; I love making people laugh in person. I have had very good teachers in my life, and part of the reason I call myself a humorist is I’m not as funny as my friends that are amazing stand-up comedians, but I somehow manage to make people laugh while passing along the wisdom that I’ve gleaned from my great teachers.”
Nick Offerman, Celebrity Theatre, 440 N. 32nd Street, Phoenix, 602.267.1600, celebritytheatre.com, 8 p.m. Friday, December 13, tickets start at $49.50.