Nick Offerman Lied

Nick Offerman preforms at the Lied Center for Performing Arts on Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2019, in Lincoln, Nebraska. 

Just a few days ago, Lewis Black’s “The Joke’s on Us” tour hit the Lied Center for Performing Arts stage, bringing a high-intensity, anger-filled comedy show. On Wednesday night, the Lied Center audience was treated to a much different but equally hilarious show with Nick Offerman’s “All Rise.”

Offerman is best known for his role as Ron Swanson in the popular sitcom “Parks and Recreation,” but wears many hats. He has acted in featured roles in “The Founder” and “Fargo,” published multiple semi-autobiographical works and is also a professional boat builder. 

“All Rise” is his second comedy tour following the “Full Bush” tour in 2017. Before that, he released a comedy special on Netflix in 2014 titled “Nick Offerman: American Ham.”

A thunderous ovation from the Lied Center crowd greeted Offerman as he took the stage. Wearing a green vest adorned with squirrels, birds and trees, the comedian performed while surrounded by a simple set. All he needed to entertain was a microphone, guitar, stool and water bottle — and entertain he did. 

Offerman had a very different energy from Black’s set just a few nights prior. Contrary to the gruff, frenetically teed off humor of Black, Offerman was very smooth and even-keeled with his jokes. Many topics he covered were issues he appeared to be upset about — guns, toxic masculinity, how there are over 25 flavors of Oreos — but he just talked about them in a much more controlled way. 

While still uproariously funny, Offerman’s set was almost relaxing at parts, especially when he broke out his guitar to sing a few original songs. Offerman admitted to not being the most talented musician, but that honestly added to the charm of his one-man show. His performance was just so natural and very conversational in nature, seeming as though he was simply having a chat with his buddies. 

His tone really fit the theme of much of his set — human nature. Offerman addressed many aspects of humanity, ranging from the uber-political and controversial to the light-hearted and inconsequential. He addressed serious issues such as racism and homophobia, sarcastically inhabiting the persona of a racist or homophobe to make fun of their views. He sang a song aping Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. There was a bit where he pretended to be in an aftershave commercial, singing along to a cheesy, pre-recorded choir.

No matter what his topic was, his jokes landed effortlessly, eliciting laugh after laugh from the audience. Offerman can definitely be described as a more jovial version of his iconic “Parks and Recreation” character — opinionated, to-the point and well-spoken. 

So it was a bit of a surprise that Offerman didn’t make reference to arguably his most famous role throughout the entire show. In many comedy shows, the performer might provide a behind-the-scenes story or two about their best-known works. But it was probably intentional that Offerman opted not to do so, as it allowed his set to speak for itself without the shadow of Ron Swanson hanging over it. The show was about Offerman’s humor alone.

That hesitance to reference “Parks and Recreation” also made it all the more satisfying when Offerman came out for an encore to sing “5000 Candles in the Wind (Bye Bye Lil’ Sebastian),” an absolute favorite for any “Parks and Recreation” fan. The tribute to the hit TV show was the perfect way to end the night, with the whole audience cheering and singing along to the song dedicated to the memory of the series’ beloved mini-horse.

Offerman’s “All Rise” was a highly entertaining, yet beautifully simple experience. Even though Ron Swanson once said “Never half-a** two things — whole-a** one thing,” Offerman proved he could master comedy, song and storytelling in one hilarious package.