For seven seasons, Nick Offerman, as the character Ron Swanson, personified all that is man on the hugely popular NBC show “Parks and Recreation,” which aired its last episode on February 24.
Mustachioed and always dressed in a collared polo shirt and pleated khaki pants, Offerman’s character provided memorable one-liners and statements about how a free-thinking man should act such as “Fishing relaxes me. It’s like yoga, except I still get to kill something.”
He also gave sound, though riotous advice such as “Never half-ass two things—whole ass one thing.”
Offerman is not his whiskey-guzzling, breakfast food-obsessed counterpart, but one can’t help but notice more than a few similarities between the two men.
“I think the writers are so brilliant and they took aspects of me and wrote them in a much larger, cartoon-y way. So I do love meat. I do love brunettes in the shape of [my wife]Megan Mullally. I love wood-working. And they took all of those attributes and wrote them in a much funnier way than I do them in my life,” he laughs.
Offerman is also quick to point out the differences between his character and himself. For instance, he actually enjoys the company of others while his character lives alone in the woods in a cabin that he built himself.
“I had a lot of fun assuming the constipated rictus that was Ron’s face, but having done that for 125 episodes, now I’m looking forward to doing things like smiling and showing my teeth [and]mincing about the room without having to be a combination of John Wayne and an oak tree.”
However, it’s clear that Offerman looks back on his time as Swanson with as much fondness as fans do.
“It’s just an absolutely life-changing, epic experience. It opened the world of opportunity to the entire cast and writing staff and so, we’re a bunch of lucky stiffs who were handed a very beautiful carpet ride for seven years,” he says.
Offerman is also able to perfectly capture why fans of the show stayed so loyal for seven years and were so desperately sad to see it go.
“There is a way to exist in that [entertainment field], spreading love and not giving in to things like fashion and cynicism. And so, that is my strongest takeaway—the way that we can be very funny while still saying ‘I love you,’” he says.
Now Offerman is coming to Phoenix with wife Mullally, who fans will recognize from her unforgettable performance as Karen Walker on the early ‘00s show “Will & Grace.” The two have worked together before on one another’s projects, but this show is a direct collaboration between the two.
“We had done some touring separately . . . and we began to kind of stick our chocolate into each other’s peanut butter, as it were. The one drag about touring was that we were away from each other . . . and we were missing each other. So we said, ‘Let’s come up with a way to tour together.’ And here it is.”
The show, called “The Summer of 69: No Apostrophe,” is a hilarious though risqué peek into the couple’s relationship. (“There will be a lot of sexual education taking place both in word and deed,” jokes Offerman.) Through jokes, songs and skits, Offerman and Mullally will explain how they have maintained their marriage of over 10 years.
“We have a handful of very enjoyable songs including a musical rendition of our wedding vows, and it’s kind of like a good ole fashioned show-biz couple [show]. There [are]elements of ‘Sonny and Cher,’ or ‘Captain and Tennille’ or even ‘Nichols and May.’ But we’re getting up to love-based hi-jinks all over the stage,” explains Offerman.
Although they have been married since 2003, Offerman and Mullally are never short of loving words about the other and are still very much able to surprise and impress one another. In fact, Offerman is amazed at what a truly great touring companion she is.
“She is a lady and I am a man, so there’s an element of protection in our relationship. When we tour and we go on these long road trips, because we like to drive between cities, she’s delightfully accommodating. I’m very grateful that she’s not a big griper,” he says.
After touring through the rest of the weather-beaten country, Offerman is excited to come to Arizona to play, as our beautiful state has served for multiple romantic getaways for the couple, as neither of them has ever played here.
“One of our favorite things about touring is just that tangible experience of getting to commune with the citizenry in a big room in the flesh and blood,” he says.
“Given all of the places that we’re visiting on this tour, I think Phoenix is gonna feel like a little bit of a vacation.”
NICK OFFERMAN & MEGAN MULLALLY “Summer of 69: No Apostrophe”, Comerica Theatre, 400 W. Washington Street, Phoenix, 602.379.2800, comericatheatre.com, Thursday, April 23, 8 p.m., $40