Nick Offerman

April 4, 2014

Nick Offerman, funambulist, returning for more. AMA

You may know me as the actor who plays Ron Swanson. Episode 619 of Parks & Rec, which I directed, airs 4/10.

Thank you kindly, as always, for having me! Work hard, work safe. Until next time.

Dear Mr. Offerman- I just want to say, thanks for being such a great role model for us budding hirsute, polite, and outdoor-oriented men. Any advice for a man who's dealing with a lot of indecision (romantic relationships, career stuff)? Also- today i am hosting a chili cook-off and tug-of-war at the Yale Forestry School. Frankly, I can't think of anything more Nick Offerman- if you're anywhere near New Haven, CT come on over and give a tug.

DON'T TREAD WATER FOR TOO LONG, LEST YOU CRAMP UP AND SINK. Follow your gut, make a choice, and throw yourself into it. If you make a mistake, then you have merely afforded yourself a valuable lesson. "It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed." - Teddy Roosevelt

Hey Nick! I saw you at the Canadian Canoe Museum last year and your Q&A was hilarious and informative.

My question is about the very gorgeous Mrs Offerman. How'd you guys meet? What's her stance on canoes?

We met in the theatre in Los Angeles, our company the Evidence Room. Her stance on canoes is, of course, seated. One should not stand on canoes. She loves to paddle just like her dear old husband, and boy, howdy, does she look good doing it.

Hi Nick! Huge fan here, I just have one burning question for you. As a guy with little to no facial hair I have to know what I can do to get a glorious mustache like yours. If no tips or tricks come to mind (which would be a huge bummer) a simple Hello would mean the world to me!

Hello. Sharpie makes some excellent moustache enhancing implements.

Dear Mr. Offerman, my friend Snowflake and I are very big fans of Parks and Recreation, and Ron Swanson in particular. I honestly sometimes wish he was my dad. I don’t know if my real dad knows that. Anyway, I try to live my life right by drinking various scotches and eating various meats. I hope you approve. Also, if you could just say hello to my friend Snowflake (she is real person, not a cat) that would mean a lot to us. And if you are ever in Chicago again, which is where we live, we’d love to buy you a round or five. Thanks for your good work.

Respectfully, Some Guy

Dear Some Guy and Snowflake, the "Ask" portion of "Ask Me Anything", intimates that your submission should bear an enquiry of some nature.

What is the best advice ever given to you?

1) Find work that you love to do, and then find a way to get paid to do that work. 2) Always maintain the attitude of a student. If you think you've done learning, bitterness sets in, but if you have more to achieve every day, in any arena, that makes each morning's awakening full of potential and cheery portent.

Hi Nick, thanks for chatting with us today! I recently finished reading your book and found it to be just downright great. I particularly identified with the story you told about the time you were leisurely floating in the pool for only a short time before coming to the hard realization that you'd rather be getting things done than just loafing about. I am much the same way (minus a successful acting career or a bushy mustache… I sport “The Tracker”). The concept of “I’m more relaxed when I’m doing something productive” is difficult for my fiancé to understand, so my question is this:

Is Megan naturally of a similar mindset? If not, how did you go about helping her to understand your preference for productivity over leisure?

My gorgeous wife and I share the trait or affliction of the full-on workaholic. We love getting to perform creative work, and we a very lucky to have constant opportunities to do so, which makes our mutual challenge to find time to put our feet up and fuck off. We work hard so that when break time arrives, we may play hard, and I'll let you do with that what you will.

Hi Nick, I have two questions:

1) Can you teach me how to dance?

2) What advice can you give me on how to get started in woodworking?

1) Certainly. Ingest an adequate quantity of dance fuel (Snake Juice, where available, otherwise any potent hootch), close your eyes, and shake what Mother Nature gave you. 2) Read Fine Woodworking magazine, start small with a block plane and a chisel and a spokeshave. Matriculate.

What is your prefered method of smoking/ingesting cannabis?

I either inhale a bodacious quantity of smoke into my lungs, and then HOLD it, or I eat food items that have been prepared with a delicious pinch of THC.

Greetings, Mr. Offerman! Scenes with Ron and Tammy Two are some of my favorites on television. My husband and I are learning to hang new doors and are finding the process to be quite the marriage-tester. Any suggestions for these DIYers?

Hanging doors is tricky in any case, so I would recommend that you take your time, keeping it loose, and attempt to laugh when it's difficult. When Megan and I hang doors, she manages the hardware, and I keep my face buried in her ample bush, which usually makes the task right satisfying.

I have tried making my own bottle opener modeled after your "OWS Pop Top." Mine broke after two uses. What's the secret? Do I suck at woodworking?

My first guess would be yes.

I rib. My second guess would that you need to use a hard enough wood, like oak, walnut, maple, cherry, ash, etc. A softwood like pine will be more apt to crack under the leverage.

Also, make sure the grain is running parallel to the length of the implement, as opposed to across it.

what's your favorite color

Mallard, Teal...that neighborhood.

Welcome to reddit! I painted this for you :)

Thank you, that is magnificent and confusing! I look like I am being anally probed in each iteration, which is good, as I am of an age whereupon I should have my prostate checked regularly. Which reminds me - if you haven't seen John Mulaney's bit on Xanax, youtube that badboy, it's goddamn triumphant.

and i drew this! should be named shitty markers lol

I am honored.

I drew you nothing, but this picture is nice!

EDIT: note to self, find nicer pictures in the future...

I have seen nicer. You should look at more pictures.

Any details on the episode of Parks and Rec you directed? Do you prefer being behind or in front of the camera?

Through mere luck of the draw, I was handed an incredible episode, in story and location and guest stars. On one wednesday, I directed (on top of Amy, Pratt and Adam Scott) Bo Burnham, Jeff Tweedy of Wilco, and Sam Elliott, with whom I am openly in man-love. I suppose I will always prefer the actual clowning in front of the camera, as "falling down" seems to be the arena in which I display the most acumen, but when I can get behind the lens and lend a collaborative hand, it is most edifying. Some BIG shit goes down in this ep, and Adam plays one of the most hilarious and original drunks I've ever seen.

Hello Nick! As you can see from the picture I am a HUGE fan of yours. I watch and read everything that you do!

Today is my birthday and it would make my day if you could write a quick note or a photo that I could hang on the wall next to my workbench! If you do, I promise to make a well crafted oak frame for it. A reply from you will instantly make my woodworking skills 10x better and my beard grow that much faster too.

Have a great day and thank you for doing this AMA on my birthday!! (I know you did it on purpose)

~ Patrick


Happy Birthday. Go to and get yourself a nicer little combination square by Starrett. Here is a Teddy quote for your frame:

"I wish to preach, not the doctrine of ignoble ease, but the doctrine of the strenuous life."

What would be your best advice for a man who just turned 23 today?

Yes, it's my 23rd birthday. If you could wish me a happy birthday, that would be fantastic.

EDIT: I already have a beard so I have that part of my life covered quite well already. I'm also from the land of whisky.

Bearded Whisky-tender,

Happy Birthday. Sounds like you're rather set up in life wealth, so mind your manners and carry on.

Mr. Offerman, what was it like to work on 21 Jump Street with Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill (and Ice Cube!)? And are you going to be in 22 Jump Street as well?

On both Jump Street films, I worked the very first day of production, and my scenes will serve a similar purpose in both films: to send these 2 lovable jackanapes bounding off into inglorious fortune. They are sweet as pie, and we have a very good time giggling and improvising, whilst fingering each others tickle-spots.

Favorite cut of steak?

on my plate.

Good afternoon Mr. Nick Offerman! My sister and I are huge fans! What are the small things in life you believe that everyone should appreciate?

With all of the visual distraction constantly inundating us in the form of our devices and screens, I really derive a great deal of pleasure from watching the sun rise and set, admiring clouds as they change shape across the sky, watching tree leaves and blossoms undulate in the breeze....these treats foment an ocular-cleansing refreshment to my way of thinking.

What are your favorite books?

I love a series of books that perpetually fleshes out a world, like Wendell Berry's Fiction (start with The Memory of Old Jack or Nathan Coulter), The Lord of The Rings, Madeline L'engle's Wrinkle In Time series, The Horatio Hornblower series, Patrick O'Brien's 21-volume Aubrey/Maturin series, The Flashman Papers, The Sharpe series, Little House On The Prairie, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, Martin Amis' Dead Babies and Time's Arrow, As I Lay Dying, Michael Pollan's entire catalogue, for a start.

Hi Nick! My Dad is also into woodworking and has his basement dedicated to it. What's the perfect present for a man of his skills? Any suggestions would be great, as every holiday I struggle to surprise him with something new for it. Thanks!

go to fine and check out their "new tool reviews" and gift ideas, also, and read reviews before spending money on any gadgets. Or just a quantity of a local wood from a local sawyer is always nice.

Do you prefer to use dovetail chisels or a router?

Great question, because that is actually the point where we draw the line at Shops that need to crank out drawers for casework in homes, or are manufacturing furniture in production usually prefer the supposedly time-saving convenience of dovetail router jigs, but we feel that the integrity of that noble joint deserves hand-crafted attention. Once you get the techniques down, I also don't feel like it takes that much longer. Wherever we can, we try to maintain our practice of hand-crafting with as little machine work as possible, which of course differs with every project.

If you could give your favorite steak a name, what would it be?


what is your favourite cheese and why?

Gruyere, no reason necessary. Hard cheddars also set my motor to running. Estero Gold.

I heard in an interview you once did a sausage tour of Europe, what is your favorite sausage?


Loved you as the voice of Metal Beard in The LEGO Movie! What was it like working as a voice actor?

Working in animation is a goddamn blast, because without photography, one can then embody any character that your voice can achieve. An old weed farmer, a vengeful Irish Pirate, a wee baby's super fun.

Aside from Saxophone, are there any other instruments you play?

I study the guitar.

Hey, Nick. What's the best type of knife for wood carving? I've been messing around with my wood since I was about 10, but now I want to get serious.

FlexCut makes really great carving tools that we rely on at OWS. They have a really cool kit that's one handle with about 8 assorted replaceable blades that i love to take on the road... The most important aspects of any carving tool are its ability to maintain a sharp edge, and the user's ability to sharpen it and then use it safely without lopping off a finger.

Hey Nick! Any plans to do another comedy tour in the near future? I caught you live last year and it might have been one of the greatest times I've ever had.

Megan and I are gearing up to stat touring together in a show we're calling: SUMMER OF 69 (no apostrophe) So far we have dates in DC, NY, Boston, and California. There is a calendar page at that lists our show dates as they are confirmed, and also at our Facebook thing, which I am not good at.

Hey, what would you say was your favorite part of writing your book? Thanks for the AMA!

As an avid life-long reader and lover of books, I am hugely humbled and grateful to have the chance to share my thoughts and views and stories in book form. Writing my first book was incredibly gratifying, and now I have begun book 2, which will be a list of Great Americans, with an eye towards exploring how we continue to evolve as a civilization through civil disobedience, muckraking, and rebellious thinking.

Who's the funniest person on the Parks and Rec set?

That's a tough one. Amy Poehler is our champion and leader, and I would have to say she is #1 Chris Pratt is a true comic genius so he's #1.1 Aziz makes anything he says ridiculously funny and Aubrey has a delightfully wicked flavor of evil mischief so they're maybe tied at #1.15 Adam Scott is not behind the folks previously mentioned, plus he wields a mighty sword as a straight man. He's in the #1.05 region. Retta shares Aziz's propensity for simply laying out deliciously crisp one-liners, so I'd rank her in the top 6 as well.... I think that's everybody.

What's your favorite aspect of interpretive dance?

The sheer delight I witness upon my audience's faces and in their britches when I bobble my rump about in impossible arcs of nature's graceful majesty, like a funky young brown bear hopped up on blueberries and mescaline.

I noticed in Season 4, Episode 4 "Pawnee Rangers" you appeared in a canoe paddling across the lake. Was that one that you built?

yes. Huckleberry.

Who was your favorite guest star on Parks and Rec?

Hard to choose from this list, although the first 3 have the greatest old-school bushes: Megan Mullally Jon Glaser Carl Reiner Sam Elliott Ben Schwartz Jenny Slate Bo Burnham Jeff Tweedy Colin Meloy Nick Kroll (decent bush) Lucy Lawless Matt Besser Mo Collins Fred Armisen (shaver - thumbs down) Andy Samberg Kathryn Hahn Paul Rudd (crazy back bush) Louis C.K. and on for days.

When you're not drinking a beautiful 18+ year old scotch, what's your favorite libation? Something fruity and a little bit girly would be preferable.

ok, straight Corn Liquor with a drop of dandelion wine that has run down the lush valley between my wife's ponderous poonts.

What does Li'l Sebastian smell like?

Mix honey, nut-sweat, rosemary, alfalfa hay, cherry sawdust, Ox penis-milk, and raw Belgian cave cheese with a mortar and pestle. Spread the resultant glory-paste upon a slice of fresh-baked artisan sourdough. Gently press this open-faced poultice into your in-snorting visage and you're welcome.

Hi Nick. Even though I’m a huge fan of your acting, I’m even more impressed by your woodworking. Your canoes are beautiful, and would love to build my own one day. What advice would you have for someone who has never built one before?

Maybe try a breadbox first.

Mr. Offerman, I am a big fan of all your work. My question is, how did you get involved with theChive?

They contacted me to collaborate with me on a t-shirt bearing my image as well as the OWS logo, which was a very stand-up thing to do. They are good folks, doing business with integrity, and literally the only t-shirt makers who have behaved honorably. There are a great many other t-shirt hawkers selling my image for their own profit, which seems shameful to me.

Mr. Offerman, I have been reading your book, Paddle Your Own Canoe, for a while now and I would like to thank you for all the excellent advice and interesting stories. My question is, would you rather be bald with amazing facial hair, or have a full head of hair without any facial hair?

I do not have a preference. So long as I am alive and I can enjoy the walking of my legs and the manufacturing of my arms and the fornicating of my pikestaff and apples, you may be-fur my head as you deem fit.

While Ron Swanson is likely your most prolific work, who has been your favorite character to play and why?

I will most likely never see a role as delightful to me in every way as that of Ron Swanson. Others I have loved include John Proctor in The Crucible, Michael Rowen in The Kentucky Cycle, Frank Toy in Kings of Summer, Metal Beard, Axe Cop.

Hey Nick,

Thanks for coming back!

  1. Can we get matching bacon tattoos?

  2. Okay fine, can we just eat breakfast together once?

  3. Alright, alright. What would you like to do after Parks and Rec?

1) ... 2) ... 3) I am excited to see what life's fecund pastures have in store. I have some more book ideas, I always have plenty to make at my shop, and I hope to work as an actor in theater and film and animation and even television if something good comes along. I will always endeavor to please my wife and fraternize with my family and friends, hopefully in a fishing vessel, and cook a great deal of flesh on my sweet-ass grill.

You've had several movie cameos and supporting roles over the past few years (which are always hilarious), do you prefer performing in those capacities or would you like to take a leading role in a non-indie film? I apologize if this is worded awkwardly.

I don't really categorize roles that way. I love to perform good writing with talented collaborators, and so if those are large roles or supporting, in indie films or studio pictures, it is all pleasing to some degree.

What should I get my mom for her birthday?

Make her a gift with love. Surprise with your thoughtful effort, and that will surpass any purchasable.

Mr. Offerman, In following the teachings of one Ron Swanson, I've become a huge fan of Lagavulin 16. I only wish I had a meaningless government job so I could drink it at work as he does.

This might be blasphemy, but if the world ran dry of Lagavulin, what would be your second choice?

There are a great many libations that are most blessed to the palate. The Balvenie makes an assortment of whiskys that never fail to bring a smile to my belly. Yamazaki in Japan makes a hell of a fine beverage. Templeton Rye goes quickly around the friday night bonfires at OWS. Oban, Talisker, Caol Ila, Laphroaig, ARDBEG, I could go on.

I got to see your tour in Philadelphia, and it was really hilarious. It's not like anything I've seen live before, and it was really a fun thing to be a part of. How did you conceptualize the idea for your live show?

I was invited to speak at some colleges, and performing as "myself" was not something in which I had heretofore engaged. I relished the opportunity to speak to the young minds of our nation, so I wrote my show American Ham to try and lend some guidance to students, and it ended being half-way decent advice for people in general. I added some silly songs to try and keep people chuckling as the medicine is being administered, and it really ended up a great deal of fun. American Ham will be airing on Netflix this summer, I believe.

This will probably be too late but I am planning on buying my brother some router bits for his birthday, do you have any suggestions?

Amana makes some very nice products, but the industry is always moving, shaking and improving, so I usually Google reviews of new tools when I want to replace something.

Hey Nick, i loved your book, as well as Parks and Rec. As a man with no workshop but a hankering to get into wood working, is there any advice you can me? oh wise one.

with a block plane and chisels and a spokeshave, you can make smaller items in any room of the house. a small lathe is also a great choice for a variety of output/not a lot of space required. Knitting is also surprisingly fun and clean!

Apple butter. Opinion?

What's not to like?

Yeesh, I think I'm late to the party.

Can you offer scotch recommendations? I tried Balvenie 15 (which I liked) and bought a bottle of Glenfiddich 12 (which I didn't like as much but will still drink), and I'm looking for a new scotch to try based on an admittedly lack of experience.

Can't miss with The Balvenie. Their cask master David Stewart oversees every blend himself, like a barley malt wizard. LAGAVULIN 16.

Hi Nick. Would you name my first born child for me?

Fool's Issue ZaZZaa? Name your own goddamn child, for shame. It's not a pony. (if you get a pony, name it Glamdring or SkyHorse)

What's your favorite type of sandwich?

in mouth.

What was your childhood like, Sir Offerman? Was your father a woodworking man like you?

These, and many more, questions are answered in full in the first few chapters of my tome, Paddle Your Own Canoe.

Thanks for joining us, Mr Offerman. I love all of your work. I have a woodworking question, which I would normally ask my father, but he is no longer with us to answer. Now I put it to you in the hopes of garnering your thoughts on the matter:

I am sketching out a sculpture right now that will require me to cut square dowels at about 2 inch lengths, with one end square, and the other end at varying angles (square, 15, 30, 45 etc). I need quite a large number of these pieces (hundreds), and I'm wondering what would be the most effective and efficient way to accomplish this labor-intensive task?

I would make a small sled for the table saw, on which sits an adjustable fence, that can be set at any angle you require. Using stop blocks and hold-downs will ensure your sizes are of a piece and that the dowel won't spin. I prefer the table saw to a chop saw for accurate work, and it's also less dangerous.

If you were a character in lost, who would you be?

the pilot?

Thank you Mr. Offerman, you're the man, if you could go back in time and punch anyone in the face who would it be and why?

Myself at age 17 or 18. I could have used it.

My friend Jacob wants to know if you will be his dad?

Please send photos of his mother?

Hi Mr. Offerman,

I just received an email informing me of the play Annapurna that you and your lovely wife will be performing in. Can you tell us more about it? What drew you and Megan to this play?

Thank you!

Annapurna at the Acorn Theater (New Group) in New York City on the Isle of Manhattan promises a full catharsis to each and every supplicant. It's a really gripping piece of writing by Sharr White that has really delicious roles for Megan and myself, which is incredible to find, a 90-minute play for just the 2 of us. We play a married couple who haven't seen each other for 20 years, coming back to ether to hash out some long-buried shit. Through June 1.

Where is one place you've never been but would love to go?

Inside Fassbender.

who's the most fun to work with on any of your shows or movies?

Some folks who don't get a lot of play on here, as questions are often Parks-centric: Rob Corddry David Wain Phil Lord Chris Miller Jason Mantzoukas Rob Huebel

Hey Nick,

Seeing that you're from Chicago just like me, I have no plans tonight, what should I do in this fine city? Any Nick Offerman recommended establishments I should venture into?

you are in a community teeming with the most original and inspiring theater artists in the country. Go to the theater. A Red Orchid, Midnight Circus, Remy Bummpo, Steppenwolf...

Who would win in a fight between Axe Cop and Paul Bunyan? Axe Cop has Wexter while Paul Bunyan has Babe the Blue Ox.

That Ox was delicious.

Dear Mr Offerman, Can you explain your reaction when this puppy attacked you?

Did you call for help?

Did Aziz send it?

That is merely one example of how incongruously enjoyable my job is. My day's work was to subject myself to the passionate kisses of a cute puppy, with the simple caveat that I was to retain a steely demeanor. Such gifts of fortune make me constantly aware of my good luck, which in turn makes me mind my manners, so as not to sour the karma.

Do you like your bacon tender or crunchy?

you bet your sweet tits.

I am quite positive but can't find any evidence to back me up. Are you the voice of "Fremulon"?

Your powers of investigation could use some bolstering.

Do you love me?

Are you human? Than likely so.

Mr. Offerman, huge fan here. Just finished 'Paddle You Own Canoe' last week actually. Not only hilarious, but extremely well written. Would you ever consider writing a fiction novel of some sort? If so, what would you write about?

If I ever try to tackle fiction, I would hope to land somewhere between the oeuvres of David Foster Wallace, George Saunders, and Robert Anton Wilson, but of course not nearly as good as those master wordsmiths. I'd be better off chasing Wendell Berry, as I feel his simplicity of narrative might be more within my reach. Having written this answer makes the notion seem unlikely.

Hello Nick, I'm going to have my first kid on Wednesday and we don't have a name yet. It's a boy. Any suggestions??

Dutch Taylor U.S. Taylor Rooster Taylor Chase N. Taylor Cotton Taylor Dewey Taylor Elizabeth Taylor?

If you had to keep Harry Houdini trapped in a room for six hours, what would be your method?

ninja edit: in this scenario he is alive and in his prime.

inject him with poison.

What is the worst thing a fan has ever said to you?

I love you on Community.

I never got an answer last time so I'll try it again.

Any tips on making the perfect Old-Fashioned?

that is not a difficult cocktail to concoct.

Hi there fellow woodworker! Love your acting, but your woodworking skills are amazing! Today someone posted this on reddit. I was intrigued immediately!

I do mostly woodturning, with the occasional tables and jewelery boxes, and started to make plans to do something like this, but with a turned bowl. Do you think it would be feasonable? I guess I would have to make it much more heavy than I am used to, but It would be spectacular I think.

Roughly shape the bowl with chisels, then make some holes in it (with 'inswing' so as that the metal won't fall out) and fill it with liquid metal, and then turn the whole thing. So, yeah.. Do you think it could be done?

Those are very cool looking items, but I don't have high hope for their lasting solidity, as mating less organic materials with solid wood doesn't provide for wood movement when the humidity changes, which is one of the main obstacles that fine woodworking always seeks to accommodate. I would guess that those pine log sections will expand and contract seasonally, working them selves free of the seal between the wood and aluminum. Nifty idea, though.

Have you had Balvenie Doublewood 17 yet? The 12 year is one of my favorites, and my buddy just found out he's cancer free after a recent surgery, so I'm waiting to open the 17 with him.

If you have, what did you think?


Are we ever going to get to see Ron Swanson high? I assume it'd be like the Snake Juice scene with the little hat, but less dancing and more giggles.

I am in favor of this idea and will pitch it to my employers.

Do you have any advice for a lady whose husband spends all his time in his shed building things with wood? I enjoy keeping my nails nice and not getting splinters or I'd go out there and build things too.


Good afternoon, Mr. Offerman. My name's Mr. Wood.

I'm moving into my first solo living arrangement this weekend, and can think of no better way to furnish my apartment than furniture crafted from trees felled by my own hand. Living in VA, lots of white oak and that's what I expect to use.

Friend has access to solid woodshop...I have some designs I want to carve into a few pieces, but as for the general structure of the furniture, I don't know where to start.

Do you have suggestions for resources/where to look for designs for basic home furnishings? I was actually looking at your website last night for inspiration, but we don't have any Redwood to get creative with in the eastern woodlands.

As a libertarian, also, I'd like to thank you for your beautiful portrayal of Mr. Swanson...who shines a compassionate and honest light on both the virtues and warts of liberty-minded individuals.


White oak is on elf the most noble furniture woods, perhaps THE most noble. Simple but sturdy and handsome designs can be found in the vernacular of the Mission style, like Gustav Stickly, or the Shaker style. Oak is quite tenacious to carve, so you might try and keep to design choices that require less hand-work, and more rectilinear fashioning on the table saw and such.

Hey Nick! Excited to see ep 619!

Question: What makes a man a man?

A man's usefulness depends upon his living up to his ideals insofar as he can. - Teddy Roosevelt

How do you feel about walnut?

Really good.

This interview was transcribed from an "ask me anything" question and answer session with Nick Offerman conducted on Reddit on 2014-04-04. The Reddit AMA can be found here.