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Being the star of a beloved TV show simply isn’t enough anymore. Get enough heat behind you and all sorts of unexpected and unusual opportunities start coming your way. That’s exactly what happened to Nick Offerman. The hirsute actor spent several years picking up small parts in Deadwood, The West Wing, and Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous before striking gold with iconic role of Ron Swanson, the gruff, breakfast-loving libertarian in charge of Pawnee’s Parks Department on Parks and Recreation. Soon, he was not only fielding offers for more acting work, but also getting handed the chance to write books and perform comedy in front of a live audience. Spirited soul that he is, Offerman has snapped up all these opportunities, evolving his writing and performing into a series of stage shows that mix comedic songs and life lessons into a hilarious whole.

His latest is the provocatively but perfectly named Full Bush, which finds the 47-year-old musing on living life to the fullest and keeping your pubes trimmed. Offerman’s bringing the show to the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall this Sunday for two performances; he suggests hitting up the early show because “a lot of people like to loosen it up in the late show, but if I’m gonna take britches off, it’s probably gonna be earlier rather than later. I don’t like to get warmed up, I like to jump into the pool.” The Mercury spoke with Offerman as he drove to the first night of this run of shows in Michigan to find out more about what’s in store for Full Bush, using social media to rail against the President (stars, they’re just like us!), and how he fell into this new avenue of his career.

MERCURY: What can you tell us about your new show Full Bush?
NICK OFFERMAN: I’m quite excited. I’ve been sort of noodling with this show for a couple of years. I have a set of, I think, about eight songs that I really love. They’re really funny. I’m continuing to evolve the anecdotal part of the show. I developed the show right before the presidential campaign and election that happened recently. I don’t know if you heard about that—there was a changing of the guard. I had a lot of strong feelings about it but I’m not a very nuanced writer, so I knew better than to just start griping in my show about it. That would be clumsy and boring. So I’m working out some new material. The title Full Bush will certainly be represented. There is a great deal of discussion of personal hygiene and grooming techniques. But then there are other iterations of that phrase. I talk about preparing oneself to live in a survivalist way, fully in the bush as it were. And also that involves making things with one’s hands. I talk about loving one’s family, loving one’s neighbors. All with a wink and a chuckle.

You’ve performed some iteration of the show overseas. Your humor is very universal, but did you find yourself having to make adjustments for foreign audiences or address the shitty political situation here in the U.S.?
I started monkeying with the show in the States and then the main overseas portion was an extensive tour of Australia and New Zealand. I sort of altered some things in the show for them rather than vice versa. I wrote a couple of songs making fun of Americans. I had a song basically saying how Americans know more than everybody about everything. And then I proceeded to list several incredibly wrong facts about Australia, which went over very well. But, yeah, you had to kick off every show by saying, “Yeah, I’m here from America but I’m not one of those assholes you’ve been reading about in the newspaper. I’m an entirely different sort of asshole and that’s what we’re going to talk about.”

I know that your career got started in theater in Chicago, but one-man shows like this are a totally different animal. Was this something you aspired to?
I never in a million years dreamed that I would do this. I backed into it entirely by accident. As a kid, growing up in a farm family in Illinois in the '70s and '80s, my cultural channels were very limited. I had a neighbor who was allowed certain pieces of contraband. At different times, he would have a KISS album. That was like had discovered the Necronomicon or something. He also had an Eddie Murphy comedy album, Delirious. We would have to kind of hide out and listen to it because it was not allowed. But I got it. I was really big fan of performers and comedy from the get-go. For some reason, I gravitated towards theater. That’s what I went to college for, and started working professionally in Chicago in the theater, which led to television and film. It was only during Parks and Recreation... I guess because of the presence of stand-up comedians and improv comedians in the cast of that show, other colleges began to invite me to come do my material as though I were a stand-up. The first few times that happened, I demurred, but then I said, “Wait a second... how many kids?” “Oh, about 2,000.” And I said, “You know, I have some things I’d like to say to 2,000 kids.” And that was how it all started. I had a couple of funny songs I had written for Megan [Mullally, his wife] on the guitar, and I said, “You know, this sounds like it could be fun.” I started writing that first show American Ham and I just loved it. My favorite recompense in all of the different work I do is being on a live stage, and having the audience tell you immediately that they’ve received your medicine. If I could boil all of my jobs down to one delicious confection, it would be that. When I tour with just a backpack and a guitar and a bunch of fun songs, I get the biggest bang for my buck. I don’t have to build a set, I don’t have to rehearse a play. I don’t have to deal with a bunch of insufferable actors. I just get to show up and give a piece of my mind and we all seem to have a really good time. So, I’m kind of hooked on it now.

The sense that I get from your previous show and your books is that you’d be just as happy, if not more so, staying at home, working in your wood shop, and hanging out with your wife. Is that addiction to an audience or performing what keeps you from being a total homebody?
I suppose. I’ve been very fortunate in that I’m not terribly ambitious. I don’t have any great dreams of creating a classic television series or winning an Oscar, anything like that. I really like to perform good material for an audience. And I’m lucky that that material comes to me sporadically and organically in any of several different mediums. You’re right when you say if somebody said, “Listen, you were cute for a while, but it’s over. We’re done having you on our channels or on our stages,” I’d be overjoyed because a life in my wood shop and serving at the pleasure of Megan Mullally is about as dreamy a circumstance that I could imagine. But until that happens, as I’m still just a little cute, I’ve backed myself into this situation between my humorist tours and my books, where I get to think about things and share that with my audience. I know I’m not as funny as my friends that are stand-up comedians but I do feel like I have a good knack for lightening the human experience.

You’ve used your Twitter account to offer up a healthy amount of criticism toward our current president and the administration. Do you feel a kind of obligation to [do that], being such a public persona?
I don’t at all. I happily eschewed social media for many years. My wife and I both just stayed far away from it. I still have never seen Facebook. I have a funny song about Facebook in my show, in fact. But when I started touring and writing books, my friend Aziz Ansari suggested that I use Twitter as a way to let my fanbase know when I was coming to town or when I had marijuana for sale out behind the gymnasium. Whatever I had in the works. I started using it, and I still made a point of never feeling obligated to do anything on Twitter. It was only because of my strong emotions when the campaign was happening, I needed to vent and I found it to be an excellent avenue for venting my frustration. I still feel that way. I don’t feel any responsibility to comment on each and every news story, otherwise my Twitter would be a full-time career.

While most folks got to know you through Parks and Recreation, you’ve had a varied career, and especially nowadays, you’re getting to take on dramatic parts. Are you happy to have that balance in your career of funny and more serious roles?
Like I said earlier, I come from theater. It’s a common joke from me on set, if I open a door correctly and somebody says, “All right, we got it, good job.” And I’ll say, “Well, I am classically trained.” There’s truth in that jest. I’m trained. I’ve done a lot of Shakespeare. I’ve performed in traditional kabuki theater. In the world of live theater, you do whatever’s on the season. That could be a Fado farce, a Sam Shepard play, or it could be a gut-wrenching Eugene O’Neill drama. I just liked getting to work on good things. I feel like I have a decent set of tools where I can play in a comedy as well as a drama. It’s funny, as a young man in Los Angeles, from Chicago theater, I was rather pigeon-holed, getting cast a lot of as cops and rapists and meth cookers. It took some time for the town to then say to me, “Oh, I didn’t realize you do comedy.” Hollywood really wants you to specialize. If you’re good at tennis, they don’t want to see you for a basketball movie. Frankly, as an actor in the business, getting a job is like winning the lottery. So I don’t give a shit. Before Parks and Rec came to me, I did a pilot for FOX called Secret Service. If that had gone and been successful then we may have known me for seven years as a guy in the Secret Service. I’m just glad I got in the game. I’m glad that the world allows me to play other roles. I was thrilled I got to work on Fargo and this year I had The Founder come out, where all of my scenes were with Michael Keaton and John Carroll Lynch. Those were two examples where I thought I’m going to keep my head down, mind my manners do the work and hopefully people will keep letting me play other things than the main thing I’m known for.

What comes next for you after you wrap up this run of performances?
I have had such a wonderful bounty of varied work across the last three or four years. We finished up Parks and Rec, I’ve gotten to work on a handful of films that I’m really proud of. I just finished being the lead in a film called Hearts Beat Loud that will hopefully do the festivals next year. And literally last night, I just finished six episodes of a new crafting competition show with Amy Poehler called The Handmade Project. That’s gonna be coming to NBC in January. We’re the hosts. It’s kind of like a baking show but instead of making cupcakes, the participants are all craftspeople of different disciplines. I gotta tell you, I never thought I’d have a gig hosting a reality show but doing it with Amy was so much fun and the show had so much heart that I’m really excited for it. I’ve been doing so much and having such a good time that I’ve determined to take a bunch of time where I’m living at home with my wife. We’ve been having a lot of fun but we’ve both been spending too much time on the road. We’re gonna stay home. I’m gonna work at my shop. I have a batch of ukuleles I’ve been working on for a while and I’m heading towards acoustic guitars. My wife and I are writing a book together that’s gonna come out in about a year. I’m still gonna be very productive but I’m trying to steer my good fortune so that it includes this beautiful house that we bought and these two charismatic poodles that we adore. Why are we hustling so hard across the country to pay for this house if we never get to enjoy the pillows?