We all know him as Ron Swanson: the whiskey drinking, woodworking director of Pawnee’s Parks and Recreation Department. However, after spending an evening in the audience of Nick Offerman’s live author event at the Riverside Theater, it became clear that the two were distinctly different people.
After being enthusiastically handed a free copy of, “Gumption: Relighting the Torch of Freedom with America’s Gutsiest Troublemakers,” Offerman’s latest publication, I sat down while clutching a hard cider and waited for signs of a beard or flannel to appear on stage. I was not disappointed.
From the moment Offerman greeted the sprightly crowd with, “Good evening,” in that ethereal baritone of his, I knew I was in for a delight. Offerman began with reading selected chapters from his novel, stopping at times to provide insight into the inspiration behind certain passages. The book itself is a quick, engaging read with Nick firmly planting himself into the pages which burst with his remarks and revelations about this business of living life.
I have to admit; silently reading Offerman’s writing in his voice pales in comparison when hearing him read them out loud himself. Much like Morgan Freeman, Nick Offerman’s voice is otherworldly “chill”, which is possibly why videos of him reading pop star’s tweets or “Shower Thoughts” have gone viral.
After introducing us to some of his biggest inspirations including George Saunders and Wendell Berry, Offerman transitioned into the highlight of the evening: the question and answer portion.
The questions ranged from solicitations for advice to queries about his favorite kind of porn. (Cabin porn. Think Pinterest List.) Possibly the biggest part of the evening was Offerman detailing his journey into becoming an author and student of writing. He recounted a story of being in a high school creative writing class in which the teacher taped a writing prompt to the wall before pointing to it and asking the students to write about it. Offerman chose to write about the history of masking tape, of which the prompt was adhered to the wall with. This original bit of thinking went over well with the instructor. Nick offered this parable as advice to young writers to write what feels right.
Whether it was Nick Offerman’s quick-witted responses, to his openness about discussing his writing process, or his unabashed admiration for his peers, it was an evening well spent getting to know him outside of Pawnee, Indiana.