Sometimes it is hard to tell where Nick Offerman ends and Ron Swanson begins — the two have so many things in common. Bacon, woodworking, eggs, whiskey, meats, moustaches, et al. But there is one thing that Nick Offerman has that Ron Swanson does not (other than, you know, a real actual life since the latter is a made-up character on a TV show): a Netflix special about how to live your life like a decent human being. It’s called Nick Offerman: American Ham, and it is like chicken soup for the soul — if that chicken was high as a friggen kite but not so stoned as to forget his please and thank yous. If you’ve ever wanted to laugh, think thoughtfully, and learn the easiest ways to simplify your life, this is the special for which you’ve waited.
In his taped homage to living better, the Parks and Recreation star has offered up ten tips to living a prosperous, happy existence. The show itself, honed over several stops at colleges throughout the country, was taped on March 2, 2013 at the Town Hall theater in New York City, and is punctuated by silly songs, vignettes, and yes — an appearance or two by his equally as hilarious wife, Megan Mullally.
What makes the special so, well, special, is Offerman’s earnestness coupled with his humor. He’s a realist — why else would one of the tips promote the use of intoxicants? — but also a humanist, vouching for all of us to simply step up and BE the better humans we’re capable of becoming while not being so hard on yourself when those attempts to be better fail, or are pushed aside in a heated moment. He reminds us that being good is easy — even a few “please” and “thank yous” now and again make a wild difference to not only those around you, but your inner self as well. Positivity breeds positivity, after all. Compassion and empathy would be all the rage, if Offerman had his way. That and going down on your lady/man/lover of choice.
To make this sort of thing endearing and hilarious rather than preachy takes a lot of work — and relies heavily on the messenger himself. Luckily, Offerman is a rational and real-talking sorta fella with no shortage of compassion and gumption. Within the ten tips he sings, tells stories of his own life (just wait until you get to the part where he became a born-again Christian to sleep with a girl at Jesus camp), and makes quite the case for being a self-reliant, upstanding citizen of earth. And a lot of that comes from just generally being here, now, and present in the moments.
Offerman’s takedown of social media and its stranglehold on our way of life is perhaps his most compelling case. It is in the very least his most challenging one — his target audience is very likely to be reading this review from their cell phone while waiting for the subway or killing time before an appointment — but it’s also the most helpful. In a world with so many things, people, products, and entities jockeying for our time and wallets — sometimes in ways so pervasive we don’t even realize that’s what’s happening — our screens and technology use have created a way of life that makes it much, much harder to be in the moment. They make us want what we don’t have and see the other side of the coin as the almost-always superior one to our own. So maybe to balance out the watching you’re about to do, you should read a book (maybe Offerman’s own?) or go outside and build a thing to compensate.
Now if only he’d hurry up and make that Hanky music video.
Nick Offerman: American Ham premieres on Netflix at 12:01AM on December 12th. Check it out (really).
What’s your favorite Offerman quote/moment/funny thing? Leave it in the comments!