1) Many people best know Nick Offerman for his role on NBC’s hit comedy “Parks and Recreation.” The show ran on the network from 2009-15 with Offerman playing the unenthusiastic bureaucrat Ron Swanson. Swanson was a libertarian, who loved meat, hated vegan bacon and salads, and wanted to stymie the government, including the Parks and Recreation department that he headed, from functioning well at every turn.
There have been many other acting roles besides “Parks and Recreation” for Offerman. Films have ranged from Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous, 21 Jump Street, The Founder with Pittsburgh native Michael Keaton, and his own self-produced movie, Nick Offerman: American Ham. Television roles have included “Will & Grace,” “The Simpsons,” “George Lopez,” and “Fargo,” for which he was nominated for a Critics’ Choice Television Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Movie/Miniseries. He was also nominated for a Critics’ Choice Television Award for “Parks and Recreation” in the Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series category.
Offerman, who spoke with me from Los Angeles, is in the midst of a multi-city stand-up comedy tour across the U.S. His Full Bush tour makes a stop in Pittsburgh tonight at the Benedum Center in the Cultural District.
In speaking about the tour, he said, “We’re currently living in an incredibly polarized nation, and my show is of an empathetic and loving nature and that people need the medicine of comedy. We don’t make fun of people. Full Bush is life-affirming, with funny slogans like ‘A Hug before a Punch,’ ‘Have Good Manners and Be Hard Working.’”
He added, “I sing seven songs in the show. They are stupid and funny in a Spinal Tap kind of way. I even play some of them on a ukulele I made. Audiences around the country are having a blast.” The self-made ukulele should be no surprise to fans: Offerman is a skilled woodworker, who even has his own woodworking shop in Los Angeles that gives woodworking jobs to people living in poverty.
He said he may even bust out a few dance moves if the spirit hits him just right. As a humorist, he will also offer his thoughts on a variety of topics including surviving in the wild, living with enthusiasm, and letting body hair grow to a full and beautiful state. Offerman is known for delivering some deep and funny observations and thoughts as evidenced by videos online.
Nick Offerman: Full Bush 7:30 p.m. Benedum Center, 237 7th St., Cultural District.
2) Just when a lot of folks thought Tom Stoppard was done with playwriting, after a long and illustrious career of turning out plays that combine philosophical wit with serious issue-wrangling—his 1966 gem, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, keeps rising from the dead in periodic revivals—and after side ventures into screenwriting, too (Terry Gilliam’s Brazil; Shakespeare in Love)—Stoppard, at age 77, came out with a new play. The Hard Problem is about one of the so-called hard problems in science: explaining the nature and origin of consciousness. The action revolves around a fictional brain institute where characters debate how humans acquired the mysterious ability to not only sense and react to the world, but also think, imagine, love or hate it, etc. The Hard Problem premiered in London in 2015 to mixed reactions, with some calling it vintage Stoppard while others felt it was short of a full bottle. We’ll see what kind of kick it delivers in the Quantum Theatre production. 7 p.m. Performances through November 19. Energy Innovation Center, 1435 Bedford Ave., Uptown. (MV)