Fans of small screen hits Will & Grace (1998-2006) and Parks and Recreation (2009-2015) spent myriad seasons delighting in the antics of Megan Mullally and Nick Offerman, the talents who brought Karen Walker and Ron Swanson to life. Although their respective sitcoms have wrapped, the pair is still making audiences laugh, touring the country with their variety show Summer of 69: No Apostrophe.
Married for more than a decade, both Mullally and Offerman are top-notch funny folk; together they are a combustible comic duo for the ages (Ron and Tammy 2, anyone?) and their stage show reflects their witty, wry take on their relationship. Expect campy songs, ribald humor, and lots of laughs as the pair gives us a peek behind the curtain of their union. I recently spoke with the easy-going, personable Mullally about their tour, music, the media, and what’s next for the duo.
What part of the tour are you on?
We are coming into the last leg of the tour. We did a whole East Coast run and then we went to the U.K. And now we are going up and down the West Coast. We toured the show last year, but it is significantly different; we’ve done quite a bit of work on it. I would say at least 60 percent of the material is different than it was last year. I think it’s in a really good place. I’m happy with it.
What made you decide to change so much of the show?
We felt like it was working great. Last year when we did the show we had a great response from all of our audiences, but I don’t know, I just had a feeling that it could be better. So I talked to Nick about it and he said, “Yeah, yeah, I think we should take a look at it.” And we did, and we came up with some new ideas that we thought were really funny, and we have about four new songs for the show. I think generally speaking it could always be better but I do like where it is right now.
I read somewhere that you two did this on a lark because the media is always on about what a fabulous marriage you have, and so you could spend more time together. Is that so?
I have a band called Nancy and Beth and we were touring around a little bit doing shows, and Nick was touring around a bit doing his show American Ham and sometimes we would open for him, and sometimes he would open for us or make a special guest appearance… And then we said, “Shouldn’t we just do our own show together and not have nine people in a van?” So that was the [show’s] genesis.
So now it’s just you and Nick and the dog in a car touring around?
[Laughs] Yeah. It’s a pretty humble operation. We just rent a four-wheel drive vehicle and we have our dog and one suitcase apiece and Nick’s got his guitar and I’ve got my ukulele and that’s about it. And, I mean, dog food.
That sounds pretty ideal.
It really is. It’s so nice. And we listen to audio books. A lot of the beginning of the tour we were rewriting and changing, but now we’ve gotten the show at a place that we are really happy with, so we can crank up the audio books [laughs].
I think it’s odd that the media makes such a fuss about the fact that you have a good marriage.
Yeah, it is really funny, isn’t it?… I guess because you hear the most about the celebrity marriages that don’t last and those are the ones that stick in your mind. But then there are millions that do… I [also] think a lot of people who are couples where both sides of the couple are somewhat in the public eye tend to not talk about their relationship at all. It’s weird because we are doing a whole show about our relationship. We’ve done any number of interviews where we talk about it, talk about each other, but at the same time I don’t feel like we’ve ever really given anything away.
That’s nice that you feel that because the interviews seem so candid and you are discussing your sex life up on stage.
Yeah, we are but sort of in a comedy way. But also like anything that’s really private, it is private, you know? So it’s just sort of talking about the fact that we just really like each other and we like spending time together. I don’t know, that doesn’t feel like any kind of giving up the goods. But people see it that way because we talk about way more than most people do.
And none of it is scandalous, which I think its why it’s scandalous.
Yeah, the scandal is how boring it is. [Laughs]
You two make a great comedy pairing, the you two play off each other. For example, Tammy 2 and Ron in Parks and Rec. Was there any improvisation with those roles, or were they completely scripted?
There was some improv there for sure. Plus it was very well written, but there was some improvisation of course. It was great to get a chance to do that. It was like a dream.
Why is that? Because Tammy 2 was so awful?
Yeah! Nick and I are actually trying to develop a show to do together primarily because we want to spend time together and be home at our house. We travel so much I can’t even remember what our house looks like. It’s crazy.
He’s in Scotland now?
He’s in Scotland and then San Francisco, but he’s coming here tomorrow. I just got here last night. I came home early because I wanted to get a jump on the jet lag before we have another show.
You travel a lot for your work these days.
Yeah. So I was on Will & Grace, which has been off the air for 10 years. Six years of that, Nick and I were together. And then Nick got Parks and Recreation and that was seven years. So what was great about that time is that we had at least some kind of routine because we knew that I was going to be doing Will & Grace for x number of months and then we’d have this time off and the same with Parks and Rec. But now that neither one of us in a series all bets are off and we are just thrown to the four corners of the globe. And so it’s sort of time to try to get…
Back on the television…
Yeah. Sort of be in our actual house and sleep in our own bed for like one day.
It sounds glamorous to be touring the world, but on the flip side, it sounds exhausting.
We don’t have weekends, you know. We are just 24/7 now. So it’s great and it’s been fun, but it would be nice to go back to having some stability.
So you said you wrote some new songs for your show, but one of your old songs I like is “Wings of a Dragon.”
Oh yeah, that country song.
It’s so funny. How did that come about?
I think we got approached by College Humor and they had that general idea about creationism and that’s how that all started. In [our] show we’ve got, I don’t know how many songs we’ve got right now, but we’ve got a lot of funny ones [laughs].
And you are such a great singer too. I was laughing at the lyrics to “Dragon,” but also thinking Wow, what a lovely voice.
Oh, thanks. Yeah, I actually started more as a musician than as an actor. And I’ve done some Broadway musicals. And I have this band called Nancy and Beth. Actually, me and my singing partner from Nancy and Beth are jumping on a tour with Emmylou Harris and Steve Earle and Patti Griffin. We are just doing like three dates with them. It’s pretty exciting.
Is it hard to decide what genre you want to pursue? You dance, you sing, you play, you act, you’re funny. I guess you just do a little of all of it and that’s what this show is about, yes?
Yeah, it is. It is a little of everything. The show is really, really funny, I think. But also, at the end of the day, it’s like a glimpse into our lives and our relationship. People that we know who have come to see the show said that they are kind of inspired by it. They think that it’s really funny, but I think at the end of the day it’s kind of romantic and sweet. It’s a nice date night show.
Have any of your shows ended with a spat?
No, but we do a thing about that in the show. Just the fact that our relationship has been somewhat mythologized, as we’ve discussed, and I thought, “Oh my gosh, if we ever get into a spat in a Starbucks, it’s going to be like, ‘Love Is Dead.’ [Laughs] So we do something about that in the show where we reenact one of our more notorious disagreements. And it’s real. For part of the show, you can kind of tell when it’s not necessarily true, but some of the show is real stuff. Like this argument that we had is real. And then one of the songs at the end is a song with just weird, random facts about us, a song that I wrote — weird minutiae that nobody has ever known about either one of us.
Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally perform Summer of 69: No Apostrophe Sunday, September 25, 7:30 p.m., at the Lobero Theatre, 33 E. Canon Perdido St. For tickets, call 966-4946 or see lobero.com.