Some people may only recognize Nick Offerman from his role as the iconic Ron Swanson on NBC’s Parks and Recreation or from his appearances in movies like The Men Who Stare at Goats and the recent-ish remake of 21 Jump Street. But only knowing Nick Offerman in this context is a tragedy, because he is arguably one of the most talented guys performing on pop culture screens right now. Luckily for you, he will be live-taping his one man show, American Ham, at Town Hall Theater tomorrow, March 2nd (you should find a way to get there). Luckily for us, he was kind enough to answer our questions about red meat and social media and woodworking.
You’ve got a very busy schedule. What’s up with your life right now?
Oh gosh, uh – well we’re finishing up shooting the season (of Parks and Recreation). The last couple of episodes are always a very sad time. It’s like when you’re woken from a nap and your mom is pulling away both your blanket and your teddy bear. And on the weekends I’ve recently been touring the show American Ham like a madman. And after that I’m gonna do a play with [Offerman’s wife]Megan [Mullally].
So, you’ve basically been everywhere — you’re on TV, in movies, in plays, onstage, outer space, I don’t know where else — is there a certain place that you feel most comfortable performing?
Yeah I guess — I grew up on the stage and that’s where my training is. I guess I feel most at home on stage in front of a live audience, but I really can’t find much to complain about in any medium — TV or film or a single humorous performance or a live theater play.
So let’s talk about American Ham — what was your motivation for going on a comedy tour?
I was invited to speak at some colleges last year and I thought, “My God, I have some things I would like to say to the young people of this nation.” I fashioned those thoughts into a show that is comprised of my Ten Tips for Prosperous Life and it ended up being somewhat humorous, so I threw in some songs and they tell me I’m a comedian now.
Why is your show called American Ham?
Well, I often speak in metaphor about how a piece of theater is served like a piece of meat, and I like to describe things as “delicious” — I enjoy that [laughs]. So I wanted my show to be perceived as a steaming helping of sustenance and I thought that ham, while hitting my recurring theme of eating red meat, also had a nice double entendre as, you know, a guy who gets paid to make funny faces.
Is ham your favorite red meat?
It is not. It is in the top five. The many varieties of beef sort of perform a rotating dance on the list of my favorite meats.
So, it’s kind of impossible to ignore that there’s a line on the flier for American Ham that says there’s partial nudity. Can you get into that at all?
Yeah, I can get into all kinds of nudity.
What should audiences be expecting?
Well first of all, the flier has misquoted me [Edit: I actually misquoted the flier]. It should say “minor” nudity. There’s a world of difference between partial and minor. It may recall their days of creaming over Danny Zuko. They won’t be disappointed. They will see some acreage.
That is wonderful, wonderful. Is there a specific reason why you chose to do your live taping at Town Hall Theater?
Well, something I really love about this tour is getting to see a lot of American cities I’ve never seen before. August and venerated cities with big shoulders — Pittsburgh, Kansas City, Columbia, South Carolina, and John Wayne…I love to just drive around and look at history. I love to see where the industry is along the rivers and see the old bridges. I’m thrilled by those things. There’s nothing more sacred to me than stepping out on stage in a 100-year-old theater with beautiful gilded balconies and carved chairs and chandeliers and to deliver a hearty meal to the gaping mouths waiting in the audience. And so when it came time to choose a theater for a taping I chose one of the most venerated in the country. I never dreamed I would get to play somewhere like Town Hall, so for me — I grew up a rabid Cubs fan — I feel like the starting pitcher at Wrigley Field.
So I’ve seen that you’ve talked a lot about people wasting time with stupid shit like Twitter and iPhones and whatever else we’re doing — do you know what Tumblr is?
Yes. I’ve been a fellow addict and that’s part of my ire.
So do you know you’re pretty popular on Tumblr?
Yeah, I’ve heard that there’s a proliferation of Ron Swanson on Tumblr.
How do you feel about that? I mean, Ron Swanson is super popular not only on the internet but in pop-culture in general.
Well, I feel surprised, I feel grateful, and I feel embarrassed [laughs].
I don’t know. I mean, the thing I love about it is anything that attracts more attention to our show and helps us sustain the life of the show for as long as we would like it to be sustained is great. But you know, when people start putting enough pictures of you online you might start to say, “Well, hang on guys! You gotta run those by me!” [laughs]. But I just have to stay in a frame of mind where I understand that it’s all for the good of the show and not worry about if the moms think I look chubby in my pleated pants.
How’s your woodworking business going? And will Ron Swanson be showing off some more of those skills in Parks and Rec soon?
The shop is going well. We’re turning down more orders than we’re filling, which is great. The young workers and elves over at the shop are all passing me with blazing colors with their skill and acumen. Ron — I’m trying to remember, there might be some light touches of woodworking in the remainder of the season.
So I have a really cheesy favor to ask of you. Do you think Ron Swanson can get on the phone for a second?
Well, I actually don’t do that — I apologize. I don’t take Ron out of the office. If it’s not on our show, I don’t feel the right because he’s not entirely my character.
That makes sense — what about in your American Ham show — should people be expecting to see some Ron Swanson moments?
Yes, there will be a savory sprinkling of Ron Swanson onstage.
That sounds delicious. Is there anything else you want to add about American Ham and what you want people to take away from it?
I just want to do a show that inspires people to be nice to one another as fellow siblings and there’s dancing and hugging and floor-punching and whatever else.