Wichita is excited to see ‘Parks and Rec’s’ Nick Offerman
Comedian Nick Offerman — best known for the role of hilariously straight-faced Ron Swanson on NBC’s “Parks and Recreation” — lives in Los Angeles, works all over the country and recently took his one-man show “All Rise” across Australia and New Zealand.
And yet he’s surprisingly pumped about his impending visit to Wichita.
Offerman, who also is a recent Emmy nominee for his hosting of the craft show “Making It” with his “Parks and Rec” co-star Amy Poehler, will bring his “All Rise Tour” to Wichita’s Orpheum Theatre on Sept. 28. Tickets for a 7 p.m. show, which went on sale in March, sold out within a week, so a 9:45 p.m. show was added. Tickets are still available for it.
Calling from his home in Los Angeles recently, Offerman said that he’s been looking forward to his stop in Kansas even more than his visits to big metropolitan areas.
“I consider Kansas to be incredibly charismatic,” said Offerman, who grew up in a farm town in Illinois. “When I see that on my schedule, it carries so much more weight for me than more urban cities. It’s fine to go to New York and Los Angeles and Chicago, but if I can make the people of Kansas laugh, to me that’s something. Kansas is much more responsible for literally the bread in our sandwiches, and I understand the value of that.”
Offerman, who is famously married to “Will and Grace” star Megan Mullally, said “All Rise” will offer a window into his mind. His press materials describe the show as “an evening of deliberative talking and light dance that will compel you to chuckle whilst enjoining you to brandish a better side of humanity than the one to which we have all grown accustomed.”
Offerman, 49, who actually started his career as a classically trained theater actor, said his life in comedy didn’t begin until later in life. He wasn’t cast as Swanson until he was 38 years old.
But his hilarious “Parks and Recreation” character made people assume he’d started, as many of his costars had, as a stand-up comedian. He began getting invitations from colleges to come perform his stand-up act — an act he didn’t have.
“At first I demurred, and I said, ‘Oh, no thank you. I’m a theater actor, not a stand-up comedian,’” he said. “But after a few of these invitations, I said, ‘Wait a second. How many college kids are we talking about?’”
The crowds, he learned, would be about 2,500 strong, and the paycheck would be generous.
He decided he had a few things he’d like to say to 2,500 young people, so he went to his trailer on the set of “Parks and Recreation” and started working on a show that would relay, in a humorous way, some of the things he’d learned in his career mixed with some of the “dumb, funny songs” he often sang to make his wife laugh. His first comedy tour, called “Full Bush Tour,” was in 2017.
“And I just loved it,” he said. “It went really well. I still recognize what an incredible piece of good fortune it is that people’s affection mainly for ‘Parks and Recreation’ sort of gives me a free pass, where I didn’t have to pay my dues in the comedy clubs like comedians do. So I feel like I have this golden opportunity that people will come hear me in a theater. The laughter and medicinal delivery system that is a comedy show is something I find very addictive.”
The show does gets political at times, said Offerman, who says his upbringing in a farm family and his life in Hollywood have given him a unique insight into how both sides of the political aisle see things. There’s a lot about conservatism he admires, he said, but he thinks that modern conservatism is off track with the values he cherishes, mainly making sure that everyone gets a fair shake and “everybody gets the same amount of apples and fish out of the creek.”
“I use my show as a manifestation of saying, ‘Okay, Nick, here’s where we are. Here’s where we’re still screwing up as a society,’” he said. “No matter who you are, you are shaking your fist these days. But the red and the blue, the black and the white, we’re all doing this together. If you take a step back and say, ‘Look at all of us screaming at each other and getting red in the face.’ Well, we are the ones choosing this. If it’s making us so mad, let’s choose something else.”
Offerman will perform at Kansas City’s Music Hall the day before he comes to Wichita, and those dates might be the ones he’s most looking forward to on the tour, he said. He’s “crazy about Kansas City,” a town he’s read about and heard about in songs all his life. While in the area, he’ll appear at an event at the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. A friend will join him and they’re planning to drive from one city to the next.
“I’m really excited that we have a Kansas mini getaway on the calendar,” he said. “That makes touring so much better.”
Nick Offerman’s “All Rise Tour”
When: 7 p.m. and 9:45 p.m. Sept. 28
Where: Orpheum Theatre, 200 N. Broadway
Tickets: The 7 p.m. show is sold out, but tickets are still available for the 9:45 p.m. show. They’re $79.75 and $59.75 at the Select-A-Seat box office at Intrust Bank Arena, at www.selectaseat.com or by calling 316-755-7328.