Going Full Bush

Nick Offerman is the grunge Garrison Keillor

Actor-humorist Nick Offerman rattles off a list of North Bay spots he and his wife, actor Megan Mullally, like to visit when they’re in the area: Canoe trips in the Russian River, dinner at Peter Lowell’s in Sebastopol, a drive along the coast. “My wife and I are very big fans of the area,” he says. “We are crazy about the whole coastline.”

A North Bay visit for the couple always involves “some sort of intoxicant” says the co-star of NBC’s hit sitcom Parks and Recreation. “We like to renew our vows whenever we get the chance.”

And those North Bay adventures are all undertaken in the nude, correct?

“Absolutely,” Offerman says. “Full nudity” is one of the many entendres on display in Full Bush, his one-man show coming to the Wells Fargo Center for the Arts in Santa Rosa on Oct. 3.

“If we can learn to cast off the oppressive social norms we’ve been brought up with, it leads to a happy and successful life,” Offerman says. “Don’t be embarrassed, go into things full bush. Sure, you’re going to be in a compromising position at times, but you’ll get a whole lot more done.”

A follow-up to his American Ham show, Full Bush, says Offerman, will offer audiences songs of ribaldry, “rife with chuckles and chortles.”

Offerman, a skilled woodworker, will be playing those songs on a ukulele he made himself.

“I am taking the opportunity to talk to the American audience about the things we can all be doing a better job of to try and keep ourselves ahead of those rascally Chinese,” he says.

This involves “promoting good manners, and a rather natural lifestyle.”

Offerman’s had a busy few years, starting with his 2009 breakout role on NBC’s Parks and Recreation as Ron Swanson. He published a book earlier this
year, Paddle Your Own Canoe:
One Man’s Fundamentals for Delicious Living
, and is working
on another one.

Parks and Recreaction placed Ron Swanson into the pantheon of super-memorable sitcom characters for the ages: the hilarious hyper-libertarian with the outsized moustache and wood-working obsession.

The 44-year-old, farm-raised humorist from the Midwest might be thought of as a grunge-generation Garrison Keillor.

“I’m not wild man,” he says. “I grew up in the country, and we loved to spend time in the outdoors, and I love the woods, I love canoeing. But I live in Los Angeles and I get out into nature for my escape and to daydream about a place in the woods to retire. I found a lot of happiness in the urban centers that I dwell.”

Offerman says he tries to maintain his survivalist edge by cooking “a lot of meat on the open fire, and I let the beard grow.”

His schtick rides roughshod over down-home territory with a wisdom that can be as biting as it is wistful. Some of it’s corny, but when he brings the dirty, that can be pretty corny too.

Offerman has, in previous shows, mined matrimonial turf for territory, a comedic tradition that runs from Henny Youngman to Howard Stern to Louis CK and beyond. Yet there’s nothing degrading or weird about his wife-related material.

“I tried to mine some comedy from how much I enjoy my marriage and how much I worship my wife,” says Offerman. “And that always goes over very well, because it’s sincere, but I don’t want to come across as saccharine.”

Offerman’s “Rainbow Song,” for example, “is a pretty, lovely song, but there’s a little bit of anal sex in it.”

Mullally and Offerman have on-again, off-again plans to tour with their Summer of 69, No Apostrophe show. It got put off this year when Mullally joined Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick in Terrence McNally’s It’s Only a Play, now on Broadway.

“I’m on my own for the fall,” says Offerman.

In the meantime, there’s his tour and his next book, where Offerman says he plans to address the “consumerist polarization of political practices.”

“The channels are steering us to purchase their products and consume everything from morning to night,” he says. The list extends from food, clothes and cars “to the president we choose.”

“I’m really fed up with the rut our nation has found itself in,” he says. Everyone’s comfortable, soft and tuned in to their affinity channel.

“I’m as guilty as anybody,” he says. “I tune in to Colbert or Jon Stewart to find out what I think, and I think the other side, such as they are, tune in to Limbaugh for what they think, who to vote for, who they think is an asshole.”

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