Nick Offerman spoke ‘Parks and Recreation,’ new book at Midtown Arts Center

Clarissa Davies

In a packed ballroom in the Midtown Arts Center, famous actor and author Nick Offerman addressed an eager local crowd while promoting his latest book, titled “Gumption: Relighting the Torch of Freedom with America’s Gutsiest Troublemakers” for an event sponsored by Old Firehouse Books.

To many, Offerman is known as the firm, unwavering, stick-to-his-guns, breakfast-loving Ron Swanson from NBC’s “Parks and Recreation” (he joked that the majority of people know him from “Parks and Rec,” and everyone else knows him from his woodworking portfolio). 

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To everyone last night, he is a man who stands for and loves hard work, equality, a good sense of humor and his wife.

Photo by Zara DeGroot.
Photo by Zara DeGroot.

Of course, there are many similarities between Ron and Nick. And yet, there are many differences, which Nick was quick to point out.

Between Ron and him, Offerman said Ron could “beat him up in three seconds,” because “I’m the biggest sissy in the room. But, I’m happy because I can dance like a motherf—-.”

Offerman mainly spoke of his latest book, which covers 21 of Offerman’s favorite American heroes and figures, from Benjamin Franklin to Carol Burnett — all of who possess gumption.

“(The) best definition of gumption is someone who doesn’t have to be asked to do the dishes or help change a flat tire,” Offerman said, who also said that the man with the most gumption was Theodore Roosevelt (an uncanny lookalike perhaps?).

Offerman chose the 21 figures based on “the mojo he aspires to (have)” and thus, what “mojo” the 21 possess.

The audience had the pleasure of hearing Offerman’s iconic voice (one that I’d argue rivals Morgan Freeman’s) read bits from his book. He also used his platform to address current issues of racism and other social topics, and said that although he isn’t a great writer, he uses the opportunity to put words into people’s hands.

“I thought it was cool that he brought his social justice perspective in,” said Kaela Serrano, audience member and Westminster resident. “It shows that he’s constantly trying to better himself and world around him.”

The audience connected with Offerman’s bona fide nature.

“I’ve seen (his) social media posts and I’ve seen interviews and he seems like a genuine guy, which is not something that you normally would expect coming out of Hollywood or New York,” said audience member and Westminster resident Casey Serrano. “He has this manly-man way about him, but he’s a big feminist. I imagine that working with Amy Poehler for seven years really helped with that.”

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As much as Offerman uses his platform to advocate for social reform, he also advocates for something as simple as reading. Notably, audience members were asked to take no photos and to keep phones out of sight. It created a more intimate environment that way.

“It’s great to see authors like Nick Offerman who have so much clout supporting something as simple as reading,” said Kelsey Myers, events coordinator for Old Firehouse books. “He could have done a comedy tour with his time instead and probably make five times as much money and talked to five times as many people, but he chose to do a book tour here tonight. Its incredible to see someone who not only really has a genuine desire to connect with his fans, but also to spread the love of reading.”

Collegian A&C Reporter Clarissa Davies can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com or on Twitter @DaviesClarissa.