Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally are regarded as something of a power couple in contemporary comedy. The unconventional pairing of comic actors—put on amplified display in the uncomfortable and uproariously funny story arc of Ron and Tammy 2 in Parks & Recreation—is a refreshing take on the Hollywood love story. Following the conclusion of the series that vaulted both Offerman and his relationship into public consciousness, Ron Fucking Swanson himself and his hilarious thespian spouse came to Milwaukee on Friday and charged admission to witness their prolonged public display of affection with a pair of Riverside Theater shows as part of their “Summer Of 69: No Apostrophe” tour. Following close to two hours of sexualized songs, raunchy romantic remembrances, and crass crowdwork, few if any people at the sold-out early show left regretting they’d paid to take a glimpse into the immensely likeable couple’s love life.
The duo came out together to a resounding ovation. A beardless and flannel-donning Offerman clutched a guitar and Mullally—wearing a raccoon sweater and jeans so baggy they’d make an art teacher blush—toted a ukulele. They wasted no time in putting their instruments to use, playing a soft and cheery song that was countered with increasingly graphic lyrical descriptions of the numeric sex act referenced by the tour’s name. The tone was effectively set. “Good evening. You have claimed me,” Offerman said, channeling Swanson after the opening number. “Now you can have my bride.” The couple spoke of aphrodisiacs and the public perception regarding their relationship. “The media likes to make a big deal out of our marriage,” Mullally started, before relenting to her hubby, who finished, “Probably because it’s a pretty fucking big deal.”
The uncommon comedy show (by two performers with little-to-no traditional stand-up experience, mind you) found the story of their relationship taking center stage. Starting with individual experiences of how each party lost their virginity, the tales of Offerman’s clumsy experience with an older girl atop patio furniture and Mullally’s Quaalude-conveyed deflowering at a failed actor’s apartment were followed by a show-stealing song about the couple having a threesome with Jesus Christ, highlighted by Offerman singing “He exploded my B-hole to bits.” Between songs that essentially echoed the unflappable pattern of a pretty melody being doused with profanity, the spouses advanced their love story between songs. They spoke about courting 15 years ago, Offerman’s proposal, and the way the actors keep the spark going after all these years. Each tale employed poetic and articulate prose that was punctuated with something graphic. At one point, a Dante’s Inferno reference preceded “Puss Town” by mere moments.
In all, the pattern wasn’t hard to recognize, but the formula of highfaluting set-up and lowbrow punchline didn’t seem to get old with the crowd (save for one phone-obsessed woman Offerman scolded deep into the show). Perhaps aware of the lack of range on display, the pair resorted to the oft-unsuccessful use of audience participation. They clumsily ambled through a Match Game-like bit that sunk when a couple from Fond du Lac tried to overextend their involvement. Later, a suave bar manager named Chris was called on stage and managed to barely patch together a half-baked premise of Mullally dating someone else with a quick wit. Twice during the night, one performer would leave the stage to allow the other to play a sincere love song, which didn’t serve the show much, if at all. Eventually, the couple opted to lean on the familiar once again, winning Milwaukee back with a song about going on a killing spree while dressed as cats, a spirited debate regarding trees on a property they considered buying, and loads of sex talk.
By the time Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally played a “Summer Of 69” outro and engaged in an endearing dance number, the Riverside Theater enjoyed a glimpse (albeit an exaggerated glimpse) into the inner workings of a comedic coupling that’s impossible not to love. Any other couple would have struggled getting so much from so little Friday, but like any good marriage, they made it work…even if it wasn’t always pretty.