A Weekend With Nick Offerman
Nicholas McWhirter Offerman gathering himself during a quiet moment at Meat Fight.
Nick Offerman likes red meat. This much is clear. The lines between him and the comic creation Ron Swanson, one of the most consistently funny sitcom characters ever made, are distinctly blurred. Both are huge fans of woodworking. Both enjoy self-sufficiency. Both would rather there were less government encroachment into private lives. Beneath the gruff exterior of Nick Offerman, however, does not lie further gruffness.
Offerman himself is a warm, funny man, the sort who wanders onto stage shirtless and sings songs about staying off the Internet to the tune of "I Walk the Line." Across two engagements in Dallas this past weekend, a show at House of Blues and a marathon day for charity at Meat Fight, he was never more than a step away from the most endearing chuckle you will ever hear.
Indeed, his chuckle drove the show at House of Blues all on its own. A silly two note Goofy-style "guh-huh!" was guaranteed to draw a big laugh from the audience every time, because it's so unexpected for a man seemingly so serious to make such a silly noise. It wasn't like he was putting it on -- the chuckle mainly arose from Offerman amusing himself so much that he needed to compose himself for a few moments.
Offerman is also a lot more ribald on stage than you might have expected; a number of his biggest laughs came from wantonly explicit descriptions of things, simply because he found them amusing. For instance, at his wife's (Will & Grace's Megan Mullaly) suggestion, he said he had taken a line of a song out and replaced it with a phrase that does not bear repeating, but involves the insertion of testicles into orifices.
Offerman' stand-up, if indeed it was stand-up, was certainly bluer than expected. While I often think that straight-up blue humor is the preserve of lazy comics, I'm not sure Offerman would have given a shit about that opinion, nor does an evening with him particularly reveal a desire to be a normal stand-up comic.
See also: The Day Nick Offerman Came to Meat Fight
His stories, loosely based around "10 steps to prosperity" such as always carrying a handkerchief and engaging in the pursuit of romantic love, are more fireside tales with off-kilter jokes and observations thrown in than anything necessarily structured like stand-up. It's like a silly motivational seminar with a man who sings songs about handkerchiefs and sometimes sounds very serious.
At Meat Fight, the line between Offerman and Swanson became distinctly more blurred. Serious throughout, Offerman questioned "What is this fish bullshit?" when confronted with the Wild Card category of smoked salmon, and auctioned off a gigantic wood carving with the instruction that it could be used to hold at least three of his testicles, but only on a cold day.
Offerman showed astonishing patience throughout, as every single person at the event wanted to get a picture with him, and an autograph and discuss meat. Offerman's brother, Matt, was also in attendance, and I mentioned to him I had seen the House of Blues show the night before, where Matt was introduced as Nick's brother "Blind Willie," stumbling on to the stage. "You know that's all him? That show is 100 percent Nick. There's nothing forced in what he does on that stage." I can believe it.