“The magic runs deep in San Francisco Bay,” Nick Offerman says.
Offerman — best known as Ron Swanson on Parks and Recreation — is currently on tour with his wife, Megan Mullally, in what the lovebirds have dubbed “The Summer of 69: No Apostrophe.” And while San Francisco may be far from Offerman’s home state, the award-winning actor still had kind words for the Bay Area.
“Growing up in a farm town in Illinois, San Francisco always was, you know, sort of a Shangri-La of the United States,” Offerman tell SF Weekly.
Oddly enough, San Francisco was the location for one of Offerman’s first feature films. During production on 1999’s Treasure Island, an award-winning Sundance film that was set during World War II, the producer would make a call to have the Bay Bridge lights turned off during filming.
“I felt like I was in a Kubrick moment or something where I was like ‘Oh my God, we can bend the time and space continuum with our filmmaking,'” Offerman says.
And while our infamous prison-turned-tourist-attraction may be best-known for some of its inmates, it also holds some memories for Offerman’s feet. During a road trip in Offerman’s college theater days, one of his friends shot footage of him as an Alcatraz inmate, focusing on how much he enjoyed dancing … around the prison mess hall.
“And so, there’s a bunch of footage of me dancing and leaping about in Alcatraz cafeteria that may, to this day, be some of my finest work,” he says.
It’s an image worth picturing, that’s for sure. And if that wasn’t enough, some of Offerman’s favorite wood workers are also based in or around the area. (He has his own woodworking shop in East Los Angeles.)
“And so, the Bay area and the surrounding idyllic environs of Marin and Sonoma and Napa all just, you know, seemed really magical. Like Puff the Magic Dragon might be found there,” Offerman says. “And it still kind of holds that fascination for me. It’s such a whimsical city built on such hilly terrain with such a charismatic waterfront sort of encompassing the whole place.”
Offerman also used to fantasize about relocating to the area, before running up against the realization that he would have to find a spot for his truck.
“Everything comes down to parking in that town,” Offerman says.
“The Summer of 69: No Apostrophe,” which just wrapped up its East Coast leg — the duo heads to Europe ahead of the California shows — paints a different picture than fans that came to know Offerman as Swanson may expect.
“It’s not like us on TV, and it’s not like standup comedy,” Offerman says. “It’s an old-fashioned show about really fun and dirty material. But ultimately, you know, we’re singing songs about having sex and what not, but then ultimately the show is actually very sweet. … You go in thinking that it’s a show about our balls and our tits, but you realize that’s only a vehicle through which we communicate how much fun a marriage can be.”
And with that more positive, and happier, take on marital bliss, the show flies in the face of, and runs directly counter to, the normal media marriage narrative.
“No, it’s true, we’re middle-aged. If you’re over 27 you’re not supposed to have sex. If you’re in a marriage that’s longer than three years, you’re suppose to hate your spouse. The modern sensibility is to find comfort in cynicism and in insulting people instead of supporting them and dealing with love,” Offerman says. “Much like the TV shows that we were lucky enough to be a part of, we succeed by communicating with optimism and positivity and talking about our balls.”
Offerman, who has only been a touring comedian for a few years, planned the tour dates as a drivable voyage from city to city — “You quickly learn, ‘Oh, if you leave the touring route up to the business people, they’ll just send you higgledy-piggledy,’ ” he says — while the pair listens to audiobooks.
“It’s an absolute blast,” Offerman says. “I mean, getting to do this with Megan is such a dream job. You know, if you take a married couple that likes to have fun together and say, ‘What can you guys do, what kind of project can you devise where you get to have the maximum fun possible and still get paid?’ It’s this, it’s a road trip.”
But for Offerman, it all comes down to creating. Even if, as he waxed and created the hypothetical situation off the top of his head, an Anthony Weiner sex scandal between him and farm animals barred him from future high-profile acting work, he could still see himself performing theater on a local level.
“As long I get to keep trying to deliver medicine to the people through comedy or drama or the walnut slab tables, I think I’ll be happy,” Offerman says.
And, of course, well, don’t forget the balls.
“In short, if you dig love and genitalia, you’re going to love this show.”
Megan Mullally and Nick Offerman, The Summer of 69: No Apostrophe Tour. Thursday, Sept. 22, 8 p.m., Montalvo Arts Center, Saratoga. $25-$125, montalvoarts.org.