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‘Parks and Recreation’s’ Nick Offerman: Manly-Man

Actor Nick Offerman, aka Ron Swanson from the TV hit “Parks and Recreation,” on becoming an actor, and being a manly-man.

Actor Nick Offerman has been working for years, but he didn't gain a wide following until his surprisingly-successful role as the gruf, Libertarian-leaning Parks and Recreation Department Director on the NBC comedy, "Parks and Recreation." Offerman's new book is "Paddle Your Own Canoe: One Man's Fundamentals For Delicious Living." (Dutton)

Actor Nick Offerman has been working for years, but he didn’t gain a wide following until his surprisingly-successful role as the gruf, Libertarian-leaning Parks and Recreation Department Director on the NBC comedy, “Parks and Recreation.” Offerman’s new book is “Paddle Your Own Canoe: One Man’s Fundamentals For Delicious Living.” (Dutton)

Big mustache actor Nick Offerman has been the surprise breakout star — alongside Amy Poehler — of NBC’s quirky comedy “Parks and Recreation.”  Offerman plays Ron Swanson –red meat-eating, government-hating, manly-man who works for the show’s little fictional city of Pawnee, Indiana.  The gruff government worker and libertarian who detests government.  The director of parks and recreation who wants to shut down public parks. Privatize.  Offerman’s macho, hunting, wood-working Ron Swanson is a hot item.  Up next On Point:  actor and ambivalent manly-man icon, Nick Offerman.

– Tom Ashbrook


Nick Offerman, actor, comedian, wordworker and author. He plays Ron Swanson in the NBC sitcom, “Parks and Recreation.” Author of “Paddle Your Own Canoe: One Man’s Fundamentals For Delicious Living.” (@Nick_Offerman)

From Tom’s Reading List

New York Times: Inside the List — “Offerman avoids political labels in the book, but like any good libertarian he does draw a clear line between religion and government: ‘I believe people misuse Christianity in modern society. . . . Disputing legislation based upon what it says in your holy book? Not patriotic.‘ And he definitely shares Ron Swanson’s carnivorous tastes. ‘I have no intention of ever ceasing to enjoy red meat,’ he writes. ‘I’ll happily sport a bumper sticker that reads, ‘You can have my rib eye when you pry it from my cold, dead fingers,’ or even write a bit of poetry.’”

Washington Post: Nick Offerman – More Than a Mustache – “Ultimately, it’s amusing when people try to dress me up as Ron. But when you think about it, it’s one of the most sublime problems a boy could ever wish for. People sometimes ask me,’Aren’t you afraid you’ll never get cast again after being so defined in the role of Ron Swanson?’ And I say, if that’s the trade-off for the greatest role anyone has ever had — I never could have fathomed a part as good as Ron Swanson.”

USA Today: ‘Parks’ star Nick Offerman says ‘Paddle Your Own Canoe’ – “First and foremost, it’s meant to be entertaining. I would like for them to take away some chuckles. And the idea in attempting the book in the first place is the notion that I might impart some advice to the reader. My dad always told me that the best way to learn is to make a mistake, so by that token I should have learned a great deal and I hope that the benefit of my jackassery will be a boon to those reading the lessons I have to offer.”

Read An Excerpt of “Paddle Your Own Canoe: One Man’s Fundamentals For Delicious Living” by Nick Offerman

Closing Segment Remembering Lou Reed

Lou Reed, rock legend and godfather of punk music. He passed away Sunday at the age of 71.

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  • Ray in VT

    Parks and Rec is such a great show, it’s just too bad that NBC is sort of putting it on hiatus.

  • TFRX

    “Ron Swanson”?

    In some households Nick Offerman is also known as “Lt. Chance Briggs”.

  • Ray in VT

    I love how Parks and Rec has been able to bring in Mr. Swanson’s real life wife, and I really enjoy the digs that characters take the nefarious characters at the Pawnee Public Library.

    • TFRX

      If you think about it, having Ron Swanson married to Karen from Will & Grace is the ultimate odd love match.

      Favorite Ron Swanson moment: “I can handcraft 17-foot canoes out of Western red cedar but I can’t glue two damned graham crackers together.”

      • hennorama

        TFRX — a rather arresting photo of the couple is available here:


        • TFRX

          Good photo.

          Here’s where this suburban kid fesses to knowing more about artsy photography than what to do with a piglet’s nethers.

          • hennorama

            TFRX — there’s obviously more than one way to get a well-rounded education.

          • Ray in VT

            I wish that I knew less about the latter.

      • Ray in VT

        My wife spotted him playing a plumber on Will and Grace. I don’t know if that is where they met.

  • J__o__h__n

    Truth is sillier than fiction.

  • Ray in VT

    I never thought that I would hear On Point talking about “altering” pigs. Of all of the farm tasks that I have been a part of, that one is my least favorite, especially considering that my brother almost half cut my leg off last time.

  • hennorama

    C’mon Tom — Men do not call in the vet to castrate piglets, they do it themselves.

    • Ray in VT

      That’s how my brother does it.

    • geraldfnord

      …with their teeth.

      • hennorama

        No, with a razor blade.

  • joseph makela

    5 years is enough. it is lame-o this season.shark jump time when a show starts to travel. mr.schur is putting his energy behind Brooklyn Nine Nine which is hilarious.
    why do actors/characters “write” books – just to leverage their 15 minutes? enough.

    • adks12020

      Brooklyn Nine Nine is terrible, just terrible. I’m saddened that someone as talented as Andre Braugher is wasting his time on it.

      • Ray in VT

        I wholeheartedly disagree. My wife and I are loving having Andy Samburg back on tv.

        • adks12020

          I know a lot of people probably disagree. I just don’t find Andy Samburg funny at all…..with the exception of the digital shorts (I think that’s what they were called) things he did.

          • Ray in VT

            Well, tastes vary, right? Some of the digital shorts were just amazing, but I’ve liked most of his other work as well. It strikes me how quiet and shy he appears when he is interviewed. I guess that I sort of expected something like Robin Williams, but he seems pretty low key.

  • hennorama

    Sheesh … this brings back memories of hoeing acres upon acres of kidney beans and corn, meals eaten in the field, working from dawn until dusk and beyond, and the 24/7/365 nature of farming and hog production.

    After that, one understand the true nature of work.

    • Ray in VT

      My wife doesn’t understand how we can all eat in the cow barn. There are some things that people who don’t grow up on farms just don’t understand.

      • hennorama

        Ray in VT — one of the most memorable meals I’ve even had was eaten in the rain in the middle of a corn field, while taking a break from harvesting the crop by hand. (Extended rain had made the ground too soft for machinery and was also causing the corn to rot, so we had to do something.)

        We ate still-warm spaghetti and meatballs from big glass peanut butter jars (remember those?), and warm pumpkin pie.

        One tiny problem — Mom somehow forgot the utensils, so we had to fend with fingers and jackknives.

        I can practically taste the pumpkin pie right now …

        • Ray in VT

          That’s a good story. I somewhat fondly remember eating a store bought pizza in our barn’s office. I held it for a few minutes first, because even though I had two pairs of lined winter gloves that I had been wearing, I had gotten so cold feeding silage with the bobcat that I had lost pretty much all feelings in my extremities. Nearly getting frostbite does not equal good times. I also remember eating burgers in my brother’s truck after spending hours out in a near freezing rain covering the corn pile.

          • hennorama

            Ray in VT — covering the corn pile … I’ve done that too, after first making a serviceable tarp with grommet tools, a hammer and jackknife, and a huge roll of heavy black plastic.

            Believe it or not, our farm was so chronically under-capitalized we first used an old single row corn harvester that cut the stalks, then bundled and tied them into sheaves. This thing was basically one step above using a sickle and tying the stalks by hand.

            I do NOT miss that level of work, or being so directly influenced by the weather.

          • Ray in VT

            I don’t think that we were ever that low tech during my lifetime, although I did use to have to clean some pretty deep gutters with a shovel and wheel barrow and dump it out the side door. When the pile got big enough, you put down a plank and went further and further out until you could clean it up in the spring. My brother and I also used to left the big round bales onto the back of our flatbed one ton truck by hand. When I was a kid we used to have to carry the stainless steel milk buckets to the milk room and dump them into the tank by hand. Then we got a mobile station to dump it into, and that was a big step up for us in the late 1980s.

          • hennorama

            Ray in VT — there’s nothing like warm milk from a stainless steel bucket. We didn’t run dairy cattle, but our old neighbor Mary always had one or two, and I recall the occasional quarter mile trip carrying warm milk from her barn to our kitchen. Unpasteurized milk, BTW.

            Fortunately, we constructed our hog barns so that waste was flushed automatically into holding tanks, and then into a biodigester, yielding methane, which we then burned to heat water piped under the floors, keeping the animals quite happy.

            But I’ve definitely shoveled some stuff in my day, and can relate to the crazy stuff one does to cope with winter weather.

            Snow chains for the tractor, for instance.

  • joseph makela

    the party just gets better up there in heaven – RIP Lou Reed

  • geraldfnord

    Dear Lou: I’m stilling doing things you gave up yesterday.

  • geraldfnord

    It sounds like a very good portrayal (I limit TV, lest I become a full-on addict), but I’m wondering: with the decreasing percentage of the population white, is Ron Swanson sort of a Stage White Guy, in the way that Woody Allen’s early characters were Stage Jews and Sean Hayes’ best-known a Stage Gay?

    —not a vicious parody of the real, but a cross between a real person and a set of stereotypes.

  • ToyYoda

    OT: Tom. Could you please interview Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel before they kick the can? Thanks.

  • hennorama

    Love the old pencil sharpener on the wall of Nick’s shop, although old carpenters would find this a bit sissified.

    The old guys wouldn’t use a round pencil, and they would just use their jackknife to sharpen their carpenter’s pencil.

    Still … cool shop.

    • HonestDebate1

      I prefer a pencil I can put behind my ear. The carpenter pencils are good for roofing (they don’t roll) but that’s about it IMO. In a cabinet shop a needle point pencil is a must for accuracy.

  • geraldfnord

    It might be harder in real life because many of the people who might be party to such a compromise—and especially on the Right, though that might just be my bias influencing what I see—don’t really believe in what they believe, or don’t believe because they’ve thought it through.

    Someone secure and sincere in their well-thought-out beliefs is capable of knowing what to compromise and when, someone who just knows chants by rote or is insincerely playing a part because he thinks it will sell well has a harder time knowing what can be given-up and what can’t.

  • tbphkm33

    United, meat eaters of the world :)

  • Bruce94

    Admittedly, I haven’t yet seen an episode of
    Parks and Rec. Might tune it in now thanks to this discussion. However, I have to say that the real life
    libertarians who manage to get themselves elected to national office campaigning as if we all lived in wide open spaces, we all earned a living as farmers and artisans (or should) and we all would thrive if govt. would just get out of the way, provide me an endless stream of off-the-rails, rip-snorting comedy as, for example, when they vote to withhold relief for Superstorm Sandy victims and are the first in line with their FEMA applications to declare their home districts as natural disaster areas after they’ve been struck by a tornado or wildfire, or when they rail against crony capitalism and the welfare state and then vote to entrench the power of the wealthy and the elites by
    maintaining corporate welfare as well as tax shelters and historically low tax rates for the wealthy, or when they demonize big govt. while at the same time living large off the big govt. teat by benefiting directly and indirectly from fed. contracts, by utilizing Medicare and other fed. healthcare programs, and, of course, by collecting their Social Security checks. I’ve always found libertarians to be a hoot especially those who align themselves with neo-confederate, pro-secessionist types and flat-earth evangelicals who would violate our democracy’s bedrock principle of separation of church and state and would roll back nearly a century of progress securing equal rights for racial and ethnic minorities, women, gays and others who were marginalized in their idyllic, Jeffersonian democratic universe.

  • 228929292AABBB

    The show is like a less funny version of the office. The only problem is the office isn’t funny.

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