An indie brings Nick Offerman back to the Chicago area

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Nick Offerman

Nick Offerman in "Somebody Up There Likes Me." (March 7, 2013)

Q: When I saw you perform that show, I was struck by how you're able to embrace two competing ideas at once: You're a conservative liberal and a liberal conservative. You're not afraid to have a good time and you have as dirty a mind as they come. On the other hand, you have very firm and traditional beliefs about being polite and having good manners.

A: Generally we associate enjoying oneself to the fullest with ODing on narcotics and throwing your TV out the window. I try to walk the line. Everyone should be as licentious as they want to as long as they use good manners.

Q: Some of that has been debated in the wake of Seth MacFarlane's hosting performance at the Oscars. Did you watch that?

A: I'm happy to report that I entirely ignored the Oscars. I performed "American Ham" that night to a sold-out audience. In Los Angeles.

Q: I wonder what kind of host you would make. Do you ever think about hosting a big event like the Oscars?

A: Yeah, I've hosted a couple of minor events, like the Television Critics Association Awards, and I was surprised to find I rather enjoyed it. If things ever get so bleak that they need to come looking at me to host something like that, I'd be glad to give it my best shot.

Q: Or if they asked both you and Megan to host together.

A: That would be a very clever move, indeed.

Q: So talk to me about Twitter. You abandoned it a year ago with this message: "Twitter was a mistake. I'm leaving it behind and going outside to look at nature, then use my hands to make something. Join me. Goodbye." And now you're back. What changed your mind?

A: We are hooked on our smartphones and iPads because they are miraculous inventions and they enable us to do such a great many things in the world of communication, as well as providing entertainment. But what I urge people to remember, first and foremost, is that they are a tool and they're not a window to life. So when I came back to Twitter, I said I'm not going to participate socially. I'm going to use this as a tool to disseminate information. And the reason I did it is simply because I was getting ready to embark on this "American Ham" tour and, at the time I had, I don't know, 90,000 followers. And I said, you know, it would be idiotic not to use this great communication network to say, "Hey, 90,000 people: Be aware of my show dates."

Q: It's amazing you still had 90,000 followers nine months after announcing that you left Twitter.

A: That kind of sadly points to the way people depend on Twitter and Facebook to bring them some relief to what they consider the humdrum part of their lives — so they even will follow someone who has announced that they left the building.

Q: There's a scene in "Somebody Up There Likes Me" in which you deliver all your lines with a cigarette dangling from your lip. It looks like it's going to topple out at any second, but never does. That's some fancy acting technique behind that, right? One that took you years to hone?

A: Uh, a lady never tells.

It's something, actually, when you're in theater school, there's no discipline that you and your fellow aspiring thespians apply yourselves to more than art of smoking and manipulating a Zippo lighter in every cool way possible. I can light a strike-anywhere wooden match off 12 different spots on my body.

So one of the things you learn is that, if you wet the filter of a cigarette and compress it in your lips, as the moisture evaporates, a sort of light glue bond is formed between the paper and your lip. You can let it dangle off your bottom lip and perform the entirety of Hamlet's "To be, or not to be" speech.

Q: When was the last time you were home?

A: It was the Christmas before last. Megan and I trade off between Minooka and Oklahoma City, where her family is from. Oh wait, I was home in Minooka when I was there in June for Just For Laughs. It's funny, my family don't all know what to do with me. They've seen me in plays and they've seen me on TV and in films. But this one-man show was a new animal for them, and not all of my aunts and uncles came out to see it. I think it was just foreign to them so they sort of politely demurred. I don't know what exactly struck the fear of God in them. Eventually they've all come to see it because they heard it was actually funny and they weren't made to take their clothes off.

Q: Last time we talked, you mentioned that you were interested in coming back to Chicago to do a play. Anything in the works?

A: I have not been approached by anyone. I talk to some of my friends from Defiant Theatre quite regularly and, although they have all gone their own way, my first dream would be some sort of reunion. My main champion and best friend in the company, Joe Foust, remains an incredibly dependable jack-of-all-trades...and so if anything, I'd love to come back and do something with Joe.

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