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JUST FOR LAUGHS: Nick Offerman at the Vic Theatre

PARKS AND RECREATION -- Pictured: Nick Offerman as RSwans-- NBC Photo: Mitchell Haaseth
FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY -- DO NOT RE-SELL/DO

PARKS AND RECREATION -- Pictured: Nick Offerman as Ron Swanson -- NBC Photo: Mitchell Haaseth FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY -- DO NOT RE-SELL/DO NOT ARCHIVE

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Updated: June 14, 2012 9:43PM



When Nick Offerman isn’t playing the role of Libertarian parks department director Ron Swanson on NBC’s hit sitcom “Parks and Recreation,” chances are you’ll find the Minooka, Ill., native and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign grad holed up at his tricked-out L.A. woodworking shop. That’s where he was recently, when he spoke in advance of his solo appearance as a sometimes singing “humorist” at this year’s TBS Just for Laughs festival.

Taking a break from crafting a “full-on t—s” canoe for his friend Jimmy, Offerman mused about his dual trades.

“The acting thing is definitely taking up the lion’s share of my life right now,” he said, “because just in the last couple years I’m finally getting the kind of big opportunities I’ve always craved. But the wood shop is the more constant lifestyle. It’s what I always come back to. And I think as I get older the balance will shift back to more shop time and maybe one or two films a year or a theater piece.”

It’s been a couple of decades since he first delved into carpentry as the co-founder and technical director/head scenery builder for Chicago’s Defiant Theatre Company. While squatting at and working out of a warehouse space on North Avenue near Clybourn, Offerman recalled, he “lived like an absolute king on pennies.” During that same period he befriended his “Parks” co-star Amy Poehler, a formerly Chicago-based improviser.

“We were a bunch of youngsters from central Illinois, by and large, with an unrelenting passion for theater,” Offerman said of his Defiant mates. “And so we sacrificed so many creature comforts to see that our shows saw the light of day. For a few years there, we were living on a burrito and a cup of coffee and three pints of beer a day. And if something had to be sacrificed, it was the burrito.”

Incidentally, his JFL show includes some “minor nudity.”

“But I don’t want to give any spoilers on that front,” Offerman said coyly. “I’ve still got tickets to sell.”

“Nick Offerman: American Ham,” June 16, 7:30 p.m. (sold out) and 10 p.m., the Vic Theatre, 3145 N. Sheffield; tickets, $35. Call (773) 472-0449, victheatre.com.

—Mike Thomas



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