Nick Offerman on Why Some Political Jokes are ‘Low Hanging Fruit’

The former Parks and Recreation star is coming to San Francisco on Oct. 10.

Nick Offerman. Photo by Michael Gomez

“Nobody’s going to come to a comedy show and leave an activist,” Nick Offerman says. “And say, ‘That comedy was so pithy, that guy’s rhyme schemes were so profound, I’m going to go fill out a placard at city hall in the morning.’”

Nick Offerman, a comedian known for his role as Ron Swanson in the iconic NBC sitcom Parks and Recreation, and for his comedy stand-up tour All Rise, coming to San Francisco’s The Masonic on Oct. 10 and Saratoga’s The Mountain Winery on Oct. 11., isn’t shy about getting into tough topics. But there are some jokes that Offerman believes are counterproductive.

“That would feel like low-hanging fruit to just say ‘Let’s run down the members of the Cabinet in the White House, and talk about what a joke they all are, but also what criminals they are, and so forth,’” Offerman says. 

“That feels like it’s not helping,” Offerman adds. “That feels like it’s just exacerbating, pouring salt in wounds that I’m trying to salve with laughter.”

So for Offerman, finding a way to balance the political and the comedic required taking a step back, and taking a look at what he saw.

“The things we monkeys, we human mammals, get up to,” Offerman says. “We are very funny and ridiculous, and easily laughable.”

In particular, Offerman focused on American history.

“We live in a society that was set up — the rules were made by white guys. And rule number one was ‘no girls.’ Rule number two ‘don’t steal my black people. That’s my legal property.’” Offerman says. “And you go from there and you’re like, ‘Oh okay. That’s how our country was set up.’”

Some of Offerman’s show does touch on racism, homophobia, and sexism, asking the question “How did we get into this mess?” “A big reason for where we’re at is our willingness to be blindly led along by consumerism,” Offerman says.

But Offerman’s primary objective is to be funny amid the tough conversations.

“I try to entertain people — that’s my main goal. People don’t come to me because I’m a deep-thinking scholar,” he says. “They come to my show because I’m going to make them laugh — and hopefully make them think a little bit. And that’s my own pension. I try to sneak some broccoli into the pizza. I trick people into receiving a little bit of nutrition.”

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