Before Nick Offerman and his wife, Megan Mullally, co-host the Independent Spirit Awards this Sunday on IFC, the star of Parks and Recreation and Devs returns to The Last Laugh podcast to discuss what it takes to be a good awards show host and what he makes of the Oscars’ oddly lax vaccination requirements. We also get into his incredible performance as a sleazeball pornographer on Pam & Tommy and his latest venture into the world of Substack with “Donkey Thoughts.”
“Megan apologizes, she wanted to be here as well,” Offerman tells me at the top of our conversation. “But we actually had a boisterous night of love-making last night and she’s still resting.”
When I ask the actor if they plan on using the Indie Spirit Awards to recreate Mullally’s infamous rendition of the Green Acres theme song with Donald Trump at the 2005 Emmy Awards, Offerman replies, “That actually was supposed to have been wiped from human consciousness. So I’ll talk to you after we get off the air, because I think I have a pill I have to send you.”
They did, however, seek out some advice from Offerman’s former Parks and Rec co-star Aubrey Plaza, who hosted the show in 2019 and 2020. “You’ve got to be careful when you’re asking Aubrey for advice because pretty quickly she devolves into black magic of one sort or another,” he jokes. “I mean, even if you’re calling to wish her happy birthday, you’ve got to keep it brief. Otherwise she’s throwing curses over the phone.”
More seriously, Offerman praises Plaza’s unlikely role as a song-and-dance woman. “She has a secret ebullient personality,” he says with his signature giggle. “She’ll let the schtick down for one night.”
Below is an edited excerpt from our conversation. You can listen to the whole thing—including more about ‘Pam & Tommy’ and what he hopes the right-wing Ron Swanson fans can learn from his new Substack newsletter—right now by subscribing to The Last Laugh on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google, Stitcher, Amazon Music, or wherever you get your podcasts, and be the first to hear new episodes when they are released every Tuesday.
So we’re talking the morning after the SAG Awards, where I believe everyone in attendance had to be vaccinated. I’m not sure what the Spirit Awards are doing [Editor’s note: All attendees will be required to show proof of full vaccination and a negative PCR test within 48 hours of arrival], but I know that the Oscars seem to be making an exception for some performers and presenters, letting people in who aren’t vaccinated. As someone who testified before Congress about the importance of vaccines, I’m curious to get your take on all the differing rules and exceptions that are being made for celebrities.
Well, yeah, it’s crazy. And it’s especially crazy now because, at the moment, we’re coming through the Omicron variant period where the numbers were still quite severe, but society generally seems to be saying, “You know what? We just don’t care.”
“It’s time to move on.”
“It’s been going on too long.” And it’s really strange being tugged in different directions by logic and by the heart. We still err on the side of safety, just for practicality’s sake. Even if we were non-vax idiots, we have to work on film and TV sets. So I just don’t wanna run the risk of bringing a positive case to a set because it will then shut the show down for 10 days or whatever. And that’s the livelihood of 200 or 300 people. So I mean, regardless of whether people have common sense and are good citizens or they’re anti-vax, anti-mask dipshits—which at this point, it’s so embarrassing, you know what I mean? It’s like saying, “Putin’s a genius.” The guy killing people? Unprovoked? OK. It just doesn’t make any sense that we have to shrug and be like, “Well, it takes all kinds to make up this great melting pot. Decent people and jerks.” So, you know, as always, we will do our best to try and have everybody’s safety in mind and hope that everybody else will do the same.
Were you at the Emmy Awards last year when Seth Rogen had that great rant, like, “What are we doing in this sealed tent together?”
No, I thankfully was not there in that sealed tent.
That was quite a moment.
Yeah, it’s a weird thing because as things began to open up last year, our friends that did get COVID, generally to a person, all got it in a theater setting. They were like, “Let’s roll the dice by congregating with hundreds of people in a room where we yell and laugh.”
Speaking of Seth Rogen, I’ve just been absolutely loving your performance in Pam & Tommy. The last time we talked, you were promoting Devs, which got pretty intense and dealt with very serious subject matter. And this is serious subject matter as well, but it seems like this was maybe a more fun character to play, Uncle Miltie the pornographer.
It was really fun. And yes, it’s definitely a different-feeling genre than Devs. But that’s something I love about the great writing of this piece, mainly by Rob Siegel and D.V. DeVincentis, is that they take this sort of salacious story from the mid-’90s that we all think we know and immediately shatter what we think we know about it. Literally no one knew the true story that [Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee] were actually innocent victims of a theft of their personal love-making tape. And our sad, cynical society was like, “She’s taken her clothes off for magazines and he’s a filthy rock ’n’ roll drummer. There’s no way that they’re the lambs in this story.” Turns out they are. So it’s a great bait-and-switch where the audience is drawn in by the sort of Hollywood glitz and glam of the story. And then it sort of slowly turns the lens back around at us and says, “Just look how you’re thinking about these people.” Especially her, especially the way our society treats women who work in any way as a sex object or in the sex industry. So it’s really fun to play this horrible guy that I played, but at the same time, I love that it’s in the service of this great feminist message by the time this series wraps up.
Definitely. I’ve gotten to see the whole thing now, and I think by the end, you really are on Pamela’s side and seeing it from her perspective. I know she wasn’t involved in the series and I’ve read some people saying, “Does this kind of exploit her all over again?” Do you have any take on that or thoughts about that criticism of the show?
I don’t, because she has made no statement about it. The show reached out to her and she didn’t get back to them, which we took to mean, “No thanks, don’t want to be involved.” Anything beyond that, I don’t think it’s up to any of us to speculate. I’m sure it was a painful time in her life. If someone made something like that about a part of my life, I probably wouldn’t want to watch it replayed. But we have gotten word through secondhand sources. I just found this out yesterday, through her publicist, we got word that she said it was OK for her kids to watch it. So word has reached her that the show loves her, that it’s in support of her, and it’s not trying to exploit the story. Quite the opposite. It’s trying to expose the exploitation and make the rest of us learn about the injustice of that part of our culture.
Listen to the episode now and subscribe to ‘The Last Laugh’ on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google, Stitcher, Amazon Music, or wherever you get your podcasts, and be the first to hear new episodes when they are released every Tuesday.