Arts

Nick Offerman: Amiable American

With his new one-man show, 'All Rise,' comedian cuts through the noise with folk songs, stand-up
GOOD NATURED: Nick Offerman's new show, 'All Rise,' is built upon the premise that we are people first and partisans second

At this point, it's unclear whether anyone will be able to restore a sense of decency to public discourse, inspire a sincere spirit of bipartisanship and ultimately save our republic. However, if that individual exists, I have to believe they would be a lot like Nick Offerman.

The actor, comedian, woodworker and all-around straight shooter has a knack for cutting through the bullshit without being condescending. Speaking with Offerman, it's tempting to believe that you are talking with his best-known character, Ron Swanson. A light-hearted libertarian and begrudging bureaucrat, Swanson dutifully served the fictional city of Pawnee, Indiana, on the beloved NBC sitcom Parks & Recreation.

Offerman's character was ostensibly a contradiction: a public servant so mistrustful of centralized authority that he keeps the bulk of his savings in gold╔which he kept buried in various undisclosed locations around his hometown. And yet, as suspicious as he was of the government, Swanson was seldom suspicious of his fellow man. Indeed, it seems Swanson always saw his neighbor as a person first and foremost, before ever considering whether they might be an ally or an enemy. "Parks & Recreation was a show universally beloved for its optimism and its warm take on humanity," Offerman says. "It said, 'Look, we're all dumb, and we're all doing the best we can.'"

Offerman has a new show, Making It, which he co-hosts with his Parks & Recreation co-star, Amy Poehler. It centers around a group of makers—textile artists, taylors, visual artists and woodworkers—who compete through a series of episodes for a chance at a $100,000 prize. The show will return for a second season this December.

The idea, Offerman says, is rather simple: "Let's make entertainment that promotes what's good about people."

In that vein, Offerman is currently touring with a one-man show. All Rise, which comes to Saratoga this Saturday, is billed as "an often political, occasionally satirical mishmash of short monologues and folk music—something like A Prairie Home Companion meets The Colbert Report."

Though All Rise will certainly touch upon political subjects, the comedian says he isn't aiming to skewer anybody in particular. Rather,in good-old Swanson-ian fashion, he intends to appeal to the better angels of his audience.

"There is this sense that things are dire," Offerman says of the current political climate. "The amount of ire in our society feels really ugly and dangerous. I'm going to try a lot harder with this piece of comedy writing to appeal to everybody."

Nick Offerman
Oct 11, 7:30pm, $59+
The Mountain Winery, Saratoga
mountainwinery.com


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