Redefining the Renaissance Man

As “Parks and Recreation’s” Ron Swanson, he fought against big government while running the parks and recreation department of Pawnee, Ind. opposite Amy Poehler. As “21 & 22 Jump Street’s” Deputy Chief Hardy, he sent Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum’s characters to the undercover Jump Street squad. As “Axe Cop’s” Axe Cop, he – well, he voiced a cop with an axe. But as Nick Offerman, the 44 year old actor, author, carpenter, and musician, is the most well known (and most talented) “man’s man” you’ll find. And on May 14 you can find Offerman by the side of his wife, former “Parks and Rec.” co-star, and “Will & Grace’s” infamous Karen Walker, Megan Mullally. The power couple will be performing their new stage show “Summer of 69: No Apostrophe” at the Louisville Palace.

1423501060-b4_mwadcaaawch9Chris Humphreys: How’s the tour going so far?

Nick Offerman: We’re having an absolute blast. We’ve been all over – mostly western states so far. We engineered the tour so we could take an around-the-country road trip together, and that’s been just beautiful. With our hectic lives, getting to spend hours everyday in the car, just seeing the landscape and listening to books on tape has been a wonderful vacation. And every night we land in a city and make a bunch of people laugh, so it’s a pretty happy time.

Humphreys: What can your fans expect in this joint performance?

Offerman: I think both, fans of “Parks and Rec.” and “Will and Grace,” will find that the reason shows like those work is because we’re old school-classic entertainers. So we bring a very ribald brand of comedy, we have seven original songs in the show, it’s just a blast. I think its safe to say there’s very much a strong flavor of “Ron and Tammy 2’s” sexual relationship in the show.

Humphreys: How does it feel to be finished with “Parks and Rec.”?

Offerman: It’s kind of bittersweet I guess, but mostly sweet. The fact that Mike Schur chose to end the show on his own terms rather than something like if we got canceled, it makes me just as grateful for the ending as I was for the beginning. So I feel like I’ve been the recipient of an incredible gift for seven years, and now it’s sort of exciting to see what the rest of life will be like after a string of incredible Christmas mornings.

Humphreys: “Parks and Rec.” kind of felt like it had two endings – the first at the end of the sixth season with the show jumping forward in time three years, then again with the real ending in season seven.

Offerman: I think the time jump was a fun button that Mike (Schur) thought of, but I don’t think anyone was of the opinion that we weren’t coming back. In fact, when we shot that we knew, they had already made the deal to come back for another half of a season.

Humphreys: So where do you think Ron Swanson is right now?

Offerman: He got that sweet new job running the Rangers of the Pawnee National Park, so he’s probably in the woods wrestling a bear for a picnic basket.

Humphreys: Speaking of the outdoors and wood, how’s the Offerman Woodshop going?

Offerman: It’s going great. We have six woodworkers in there, it’s a burdening concern. We have some beautiful commissions going on right now as well as our usual crop of gift items on the website. We’re very grateful for it. We usually spend more time trying to keep the business from growing than to drum up business.

Humphreys: A couple weeks ago on the Offerman Woodshop’s Instagram, there was a picture of some Kentucky bourbon barrels, is there a story there?

Offerman: Somebody asked us if we’d make some whiskey barrels and we’re looking into it, but I said “we don’t have any coopers in the shop at the moment,” and that’s an incredible skill. But maybe we could mill the oak staves then we can find a qualified cooper to finish them off for us.

Humphreys: That’s becoming a big business in Louisville with bourbon right down the road.

Offerman: So I understand, and I appreciate that – among the many things that draw me to Louisville.

Humphreys: Well like Louisville, I noticed on your website that you’re also making and selling hand-turned baseball bats.

Offerman: I haven’t seen the numbers, but I think you guys have sold a few more units over the years. Ours are definitely more flawed.

Humphreys: That just means they’re more artsy.

Offerman: Yeah, it means they’re made with love.

Humphreys: You’re from Illinois, have you been through Kentucky before?

Offerman: I have. I really love Kentucky. My favorite thing about Kentucky, it’s become like the Shire to me. As a massive fan of Wendell Berry, the greatest living American writer, he’s in Kentucky, I just love – Kentucky to me feels like the prettiest parts of Illinois. I grew up in a farm family and I really appreciate the honest American qualities of Kentucky.

Humphreys: Speaking of writers, you have a new book coming out, “Gumption: Relighting the Torch of Freedom with America’s Gutsiest Troublemakers.“ That’s a hell of a title.

Offerman: Yes it is, thank you. I’m hoping to maybe win a Peabody for Earthiest subtitle.

The first one (“Paddle Your Own Canoe: One Man’s Fundamentals for Delicious Living”) is all out of my head. It’s stories from my life in times in which I was a jackass, rendered with humor. The new one is portraits of 21 Americans that inspire me. Including Wendell Berry – he’s one of my troublemakers. I’m really proud of it. It’s like my mixtape of 21 people I want to tell everyone about.

Humphreys: We have few questions from Facebook. “What is the furthest you have willingly stepped out of your comfort zone and what did you gain from the experience?”

Offerman: My comfort zone is pretty vast, so that’s a tough question. I guess when I started working as a humorist, probably four or five years ago when I was first invited to colleges as though I were a stand-up – that was a pretty strange new world to perform as myself rather than a character that had been written. But I found the audiences to be really generous and supportive, so I took that and ran. That’s what inspired my first book and partly what inspired this tour. My wife is an incredible singer, and has done a bunch of Broadway shows, and she is kind of my singing coach, although in her defense I’m not the greatest student. She’s doing her best but I still have a ways to go. So all of those ingredients are part of what created this tour.

Humphreys: “If you could bioengineer two pieces of wood together, what would they be and what ‘wood’ you make out of it?”

Offerman: Gosh. I suppose I’d morph together a length of ash and a length of maple so that you had a two-sided bat. Depending if you wanted to hit the long ball or try an shoot a line drive up the middle, you could just spin your bat 180 degrees. And maybe there’d be a small poplar patch for bunting.

Humphreys: And our last question, “What does it take to be the sexiest man alive?”

Offerman: Boy, that’s a great question. If they’re referring to me then the answer would be to pay absolutely no attention to such questions.

Humphreys: Thank you so much for your time and best of luck of the rest of your tour.

Offerman: Oh thank you, my pleasure. We’re tickled pink to come to Louisville and boy we’re going to have a lot of fun. Every city we’ve been to has packed us to the rafters and we’re incredibly thankful to get to bring this flavor of murph to Kentucky.

The dynamic duo of Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally can be seen at the Louisville Palace on May 14. Tickets can be purchased by calling the box office at 502.583.4555 or online at www.louisvillepalace.com. See Nick Offerman’s artistry at www.offermanwoodshop.com.