Talking With: Nick Offerman

You probably know him as Ron Swanson from Parks and Recreation and as a sublimely convincing Dick McDonald in The Founder opposite Michael Keaton. Nick Offerman can also make a super fine cedar-strip canoe by hand out of his woodshop in east L.A., which you may not have known. He also co-wrote the book The Greatest Love Story Ever Told: An Oral History with wife, actress Megan Mullally.

How did you get started in the business?

As a teen, I read the Gospel selections at Catholic mass in my local church. It was in the pulpit that I first noticed the efficacy of a deadpan delivery, and I was driven to entertain an even larger congregation, so I went to theatre school at the University of Illinois, formed a theatre company in Chicago with my fellow mountebanks (The Defiant Theatre), and rode my stage work to Los Angeles, where I have slowly but surely cultivated a string of jobs that allow me to continue in my pursuit of tickling audiences.

What’s always in your refrigerator?

Locally-sourced, properly-pastured meat.

What’s your worst quality?

I’m a workaholic … [and] I am extremely lucky to work at jobs that I love. So I have the bad habit of jamming my calendar full of said employment, rather than spending enough time strolling through the woods with my loved ones.

What music is on your playlist?

Nancy And Beth, Wilco, Laurie Anderson, Matt The Electrician, The Milk Carton Kids, The Decemberists, Neil Young, Nick Cave, Randy Newman, Tom Waits

Read any good books lately?

I love [reading] more than any other art form. I just re-read Wendell Berry’s The Unsettling of America. Also The Library Book by Susan Orlean, How To Change Your Mind by Michael Pollan, The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman, and The Shepherd’s Life by James Rebanks.

Cat person or dog person?

Dogs, decidedly. I grew up with dogs and cats, and I love all animals deeply, as I am a talented scratcher, but our dogs make our lives substantially more beautiful at home with my bride.

What’s your “guilty pleasure” television show?

My wife and I indulge in The Bachelor franchise. The fast food of TV – scientifically engineered to be immediately flavorsome, but ultimately delivering only a stomach ache.

Who or what inspires you?

My wife inspires me without ceasing. She is the most talented person I have met, and yet she also works harder at her craft than anybody else, which serves as a driving force whenever I apply myself to a project. I am also massively inspired by the writing of Wendell Berry and his perspective on the actions of humanity. If his words were required reading, our climate would be much more comfortable and our food would be much healthier and delicious.

What are your thoughts about our great state of Florida?

I have not seen enough of the paradisiacal parts to satisfy the Jimmy Buffett in me, but I have greatly enjoyed the flavors of Miami, as well as the more rural areas where the people remind me of folks I grew up with in the Illinois farmland. My favorite books about Florida are The Orchid Thief by Susan Orlean and Oranges by John McPhee.

What do you consider your greatest successes – personally and professionally?

Personally, I feel like I am so far making my parents proud by taking the values and work ethic which they imparted on me and crafting a fruitful life in which I’m able to deliver some entertainment to folks while I have not been convicted of any felonies. Professionally, my favorite “rating” to achieve is when I learn that I have helped inspire anyone to make things with her/his hands.

Nick Offerman: All Rise comes to the Straz Center Saturday, December 7 at 7 pm.

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