Introductions: Nick Offerman
On October 28 at Benaroya Hall, Nick Offerman – star of NBC’s Parks and Recreation and America’s premier evangelist for making things – had us in stitches over his new book about woodworking, Good Clean Fun: Misadventures in Sawdust at Offerman Workshop. SAL Associate Director Rebecca Hoogs introduced Nick, the first in SAL’s 2016/17 SAL Presents Series.
By Rebecca Hoogs, SAL Associate Director
It is an incredible honor to introduce Nick Offerman to the Seattle Arts & Lectures stage. Now, you might be wondering, why would Seattle Arts & Lectures, a literary organization, be interested in presenting an actor and comedian who is on tour for book on woodworking? A book which debuted, by the way, at number ten on the New York Times bestseller list this week? A book called Good Clean Fun: Misadventures in Sawdust at Offerman Workshop?
Because, if you know Nick, you know that he is a true artist, a craftsman trying to live an authentic life, an old-fashioned maker in the way that all great poets, authors, and artists are makers. In his many acting and comedic roles, most notably as Ron Swanson on Parks and Rec, he makes us laugh and even cry. Off-screen, however, his passion (besides his wife, actress-slash-goddess Megan Mullally) is making us things with wood. Working with his hands.
As a young actor, he worked “using his hammering ability to work in the scene shop and actually make a living in the theater while [he] was waiting for [his] acting skills to improve.” Improve they did. Slate Magazine declared Offerman Parks and Recreation’s secret weapon and said that he has a gift for “understated physical comedy.” I don’t think it’s a coincidence that his gift for physical comedy aligns with his gift for taking the physical world and transforming it into a physical work of art.
But he’s just as a good with words as he is with wood. His books—the new one, and the two previous, Paddle Your Own Canoe and Gumption—are damned funny and also make fine sense along the way. Sense he has absorbed from a life of the gift of hard work and literary heroes like Wendell Berry. “If everyone would read Wendell Berry,” Offerman has said, “they would learn what I’ve learned, which is that the way to a really happy, fruitful, productive life is to join hands with those in your community and make your life together. And that involves gardening and building and making things.”
In our often digitally disembodied, ephemeral snapchat age, Offerman makes the case for the bodied life. For a three-legged stool. For balance. For jigsaw puzzles. And, of course, for whiskey. That’s a manifesto I can get behind, and one that I suspect you, our community, fully supports as well.