Nick Offerman Advises Albany: We’re All Stupid, Be Cool Anyway 10/25/2019

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Comedian Nick Offerman, best known for playing Ron Swanson on popular television show Parks and Rec, visited Albany’s Palace Theatre Friday night. He sold out the Palace, filling seats with his understated style that requires some deeper thinking from his audience and also offered some advice on being good human beings.

The crowd just adored him.

Like your favorite professor from college, Offerman had a message that he gently guided his audience to find through parallel phrases and understated humor to point out the ugliness in human behavior. Rather than making folks feel small for their own biases, he led them to insight through laughter and wit, often requiring some thinking from his audience.

Photo by Jim Gilbert

Opening a bit later than the 8 pm start time, Offerman took the stage that was empty except for his nalgene water bottle, a guitar, microphone and stool. He was dressed in a brightly colored shirt embroidered with squirrels, dark work pants, and dark shoes. He knelt when he took the stage, as much humbled in front of the full house as to the wild applause he generated by simply appearing.

Offerman is funny, and that humor translated immediately through some very quick jokes about the crimes humans have made through stupidity. He referenced belly shirts, bringing chuckles, washed denim, and in the same parallel phrase, the Holocaust. And it became immediately apparent Offerman was going to make fans think a bit more deeply and avoid some of the “low lying fruit” he also referenced is littering the news at present.

Photo by Jim Gilbert

Offerman was noting that everyone seems to have something to complain about, “whiners,” he initially called folks. But then he added there are two types of whiners, those with “so called legitimate complaints,” such as those who want equal rights, and “white males.” He paused there, giving folks to realize what he’s doing: he was pointing out his own privilege, and the privilege of many in the crowd, to be on alert and aware.

Offerman promised to avoid simply grabbing at the easy joke, and gave the example of “the side of putting people in cages, and then there’s the other side of people asking not to be put in cages.” And there he did it again: he drew a line between right and wrong, and regardless of what audience members thought about immigration, Offerman forced a moral stand.

Photo by Jim Gilbert

Offerman complimented the Palace’s stage (“I do believe it is maple,” he drawled as he walked around studying it in his best carpenter role), and gave a shout out to upstate NY as well. Alternating between musical bits he put together to emphasize his point, Offerman sang about Kavanaugh, commercialism, and even prepared a musical skit on toxic masculinity.

This is heavier stuff than an average comedian might take on, and he did so with a clear goal of getting the audience to think more deeply while also acknowledging our own stupidity.

Even staying in role, a few times Offerman intentionally betrayed his own skit, adding “Fuck that guy” presumably under his breath while singing the date rape song about Kavanaugh, and again later laughing about penis size and guns.

Likable and disarming, Offerman’s 90 minute gig at the Palace didn’t bring about deep belly laughs as much as he got some strong chuckles, deeper thoughts, and connected moments advising his fans against judging others.

Photo by Jim Gilbert

“Have you heard about the gays?” he opened. “You can’t just have people going around loving each other, willy nilly,” he said straight faced.

But that clearly is exactly what Offerman wants us to do. “Be cool to each other,” he advised.

And don’t buy pants when you already own pants.

Because that’s just silly.

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