By Stephanie E. Ponder
SINCE THE LATE ’90s, Nick Offerman has
been working in television, films and theater.
He’s perhaps best known for his role as Ron
Swanson, the director of the parks and recreation department of fictional Pawnee,
Indiana, on the TV show Parks and Recreation,
now in its sixth season.
The Connection recently caught up with
Offerman while he was on the road for his
“American Ham” comedy tour and took the
opportunity to ask about the tour; his new
book, Paddle Your Own Canoe; Ron Swanson’s
appeal; and Offerman’s hobby as a skilled
woodworker and gifts he’s made for his wife
of 10 years, actress Megan Mullally.
Costco Connection: What happens during
one of your comedy shows?
Nick Offerman: The show is comprised of
my 10 tips for prosperity. They’re actually
sincere tips … like say “please” and “thank
you” and engage in romantic love. Then I
expound upon them in a way that’s hopefully
humorous. We have the ridiculous bonus
that my wife, Megan Mullally, has a new band
called Nancy and Beth. They’ve been opening for me. Then they come out and we do
some songs together. We’re kind of combining our chocolate and peanut butter into a
wife-and-husband variety act, and it’s been
really a lot of fun.
CC: What prompted you to write a book?
NO: It was really from this touring show that
the book sprung forth. Some people around
me said, “The tips for prosperity sound like
[a] book.” And I said, “Oh, I guess maybe I
should look into writing a book. That sounds
like fun.” And so I did look into it. I whipped
out 300 pages of hopefully humorous philos-ophies and rants and whatnot.
CC: How did you decide on the format of
NO: Having a crazy schedule of TV and film
work and touring and also putting in some
time in my wood shop, I said, “Here’s a list of
funny stories. Here’s a list of different arenas of
opinion: modern fashion for the hirsute man,
working with your hands.” We took the lists
and [my editor, Jill Schwartzman,] said, “Let’s
do 16 story chapters and 16 of these observations.” And I said, “Thank you very kindly.”
CC: Do you start to feel a little antsy if you don’t
get enough time in your wood shop?
NO: I do. Growing up in my farm family
where everyone is great at a lot of sorts of dif-
ferent labor, by necessity, it’s just sort of in our
genes. As I became, for better or worse, an
artist and started working professionally in
theater, I … sort of remained in the labor pool
by building scenery professionally. And
somehow that sensibility has stuck with me
where if I spend too much time just working
as an artist, I feel like I’m not getting enough
tangible work done. I’m happy to be enter-
taining people and so forth, but I feel a lot bet-
ter when I can put my hands on and say
there’s something I affected and it will remain
that way. No editor will be changing it.
CC: What was your latest handmade gift?
NO: I made Megan a tiny fork recently, just for
fun. We were having a little spoon-carving
workshop, and in my obtuse way I said, “Well,
everyone is making a different sort of spoon;
I’m making a tiny fork.” I enjoy making things
for Megan more than anything.
CC: Ron Swanson is such an iconic character.
Why do you think people respond to him?
NO: It would be insincere of me to not mention his dashing good looks first. When a man
is that handsome—classically, traditionally—
people really gravitate toward them. You’ve got
your Paul Newmans, your [Robert] Redfords
and your Ron Swansons. Beyond that, I think
people find comfort in a man or woman who
knows how to get things done simply without
having to look on the Internet. It’s becoming a
bit of a rare breed, so I think there’s a certain
comfort that comes with that sensibility.
CC: Is there anything you’d like to add?
NO: This is all just a great deal of fun, and I’m
very grateful. Thanks for giving it a darn. It’s
fun to pass along lessons from my parents,
but more than that I really enjoy entertaining
people, and I hope that this book will succeed
in doing so. C
This actor has both paddles in the
water, and many irons in the fire
The Costco Connection
Paddle Your Own Canoe: One Man’s
Fundamentals for Delicious Living is
available in most Costco warehouses.
arts & entertainment