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Q&A: This is how Ron Swanson would order his cheesesteak

Nick Offerman is having one hell of a summer. With Parks and Recreation on summer hiatus, the man behind Ron Swanson and Ron Swanson's mustache appeared in indie darlings The Kings of Summer and In a World... and had a role in the Jason Sudeikis/Jennifer Aniston comedy We're the Millers that has already raked in more than $90 million at the domestic box office.

Q&A: This is how Ron Swanson would order his cheesesteak

Nick Offerman plays Ron Swanson on NBC´s ´Parks and Recreation´ (Photo: NBC/Mitchell Haaseth)
Nick Offerman plays Ron Swanson on NBC's 'Parks and Recreation' (Photo: NBC/Mitchell Haaseth)

Nick Offerman is having one hell of a summer. With Parks and Recreation on summer hiatus, the man behind Ron Swanson and Ron Swanson's mustache appeared in indie darlings The Kings of Summer and In a World... and had a role in the Jason Sudeikis/Jennifer Aniston comedy We're the Millers, which has already raked in more than $90 million at the domestic box office.

Offerman also managed to, basically, break the Internet by peeing all over Los Angeles in a FIDLAR music video and made an appearance on Comedy Central's Drunk History.

On top of all of this—and with Parks and Rec slated for a triumphant return this fall—Offerman is touring the country with a one-man show titled "American Ham" and WMMR's Preston and Steve are bringing him to Upper Darby's Tower Theatre.

In advance of his September 3rd show, I was able to speak with Offerman about buying drugs on South Street, how Ron Swanson would order his cheesesteak, and how modern society should define "manliness."

Hey. Thanks for making the time.

Oh, my pleasure. I'm a big fan of Philly. I lived out in Malvern for a few months about 20 years ago at People's Light & Theatre Company.

I actually grew up about 10 minutes west of there.

It's a crazily beautiful part of the country.

It really is wonderful. It's kind of like the perfect blend of suburban living. You get some nature, but you're close to civilization. It's not all strip malls.

And, if you need to buy a bag a hash, you just nip down past the Schuylkill.

Yeah, I heard you scored some hash down on South Street?

Well, it was purported to be hashish, but, apparently, it was a hash of a totally different flavor. Some sort of corned beef hash or something. It did not smoke very well.

Well, you've got to be careful when you're buying drugs in an alley off of South Street.

That's the first tip I'll deliver in my American Ham show.

So, we know you've been to Philly and that you've gone out down on South Street. I've been wondering how you think Ron Swanson would order his cheesesteak... if he'd even f*** with that. Pardon the French.

Oh, no worries. I also speak French. That language is more than welcome in my house. And I think Ron would be thrilled about a Philly cheesesteak. It's a proven meat-delivery system and, as with all things, he would eschew anything extra. I think that he wouldn't understand that you could ask for different added items or condiments. If you just ask for the straight-up sandwich, is it just meat and cheese and mushrooms?

No. Typically, the classic Philly cheesesteak is either Cheese Whiz or provolone and then onions are optional. Most people don't go for anything more complicated than that.

Well, why would you? Why fix it? It ain't broke.

So, September 3rd at the Tower Theatre in Upper Darby. What can people expect from Nick Offerman's one-man show?

First off, to answer that, I'll mention that we'll have the privilege of having my wife's band [he's married to Megan Mullally], Nancy and Beth, open for me. And, incongruously, they are 7-9 times more entertaining than I am. So, I can definitely promise the crowd that the show will peak in the first 20 minutes. Then I'll come out and speak pedantically. I play a few mediocre songs of my own. For example, "Jesus Take the Weed" is my version of "Jesus Take the Wheel" and then the band comes back and we do a few songs together, so things pick back up at the end. My show is a collection of anecdotes and cautionary tales with a few songs and minor nudity.

Well, that's always a plus. It's kind of like when you're watching Game of Thrones or another HBO show and they don't put that "N" up as a warning beforehand. It's, like, why even bother DVRing it now?

Exactly. I find it to be very enervating to an audience. Either they're thrilled or horrified, but they're certainly not bored. Whoa! That's a lot of skin.

I recently spoke to Tracy Morgan about his 30 Rock character Tracy Jordan and managing the expectations of fans when he goes out on the road. Do you feel like, when you show up, people are expecting Ron Swanson as opposed to Nick Offerman?

Well, I certainly took that into account when I wrote this show and, I think, I've done a successful job of starting you off with, "OK, we all know and love Ron Swanson and what he's about. Here's why I'm the guy who plays him. Here are our similarities." And then, "And, now, here's some more thoughtful items that, maybe, Ron wouldn't think about." Early on, when I was being invited to colleges to do this show, the students who would invite me would say, "We don't even care if Nick Offerman doesn't show up. We just want 90 minutes of Ron Swanson."

What an ego boost.

I'd say, "I know you didn't mean to hurt my feelings and you didn't because I'm a solid fellow. But, I'd like to remind you that the reason you love Ron Swanson is that you get 90-second to 2-minute increments of him once a week. And, I feel like, if you got Ron Swanson for 90 minutes, he would announce that he was going to build a Windsor chair and everyone would laugh and it would be really funny for about 30 seconds until you realized that he was, indeed, going to build a chair. Then, it would incredibly boring for everyone but Ron, who would giggle maniacally throughout the process. Everyone else would get up and go to a bar for a drink and say, "I wish someone had come through who did more than build a chair."

You mention the similarities and the chair-building. You and Ron Swanson have some crossover, especially in that regard. Like, you're both considered pillars of manliness. I feel like the show might put hair on my chest.

Well, I suppose there is a bit of manliness on the table. But, I'm generally taken aback by how much people tend to color me in with a macho crayon. I remind them that I'm an actor who went to theater school and would happily don tights and play a Shakespearean fop. So, I do touch on manliness, but I sort of expand it to a more considered notion of what the modern man is all about. I do some talking about working with your blunt hands and having good manners and so forth. What I don't do is show people how to clean and safely a discharge a shotgun or get into any of the more testosterone-fueled sides of manliness.

It seems that you embody more of a well-rounded definition of masculinity. Like, in Esquire a few months ago they ran a feature on manliness with a survey that showed, kind of, that most people associated manliness with "strength." That strikes me as bullsh** because it's too one-dimensional to be considered a positive trait. I feel like you can be a guy without hanging dead animals on your walls. You have a theater background. You danced on Fallon. I feel like that kind of rounds things out a bit.

When people ask me who I think of as a great man, on one end of the spectrum you've got Teddy Roosevelt, but, also, people like Atticus Finch come to mind. People who are loyal and have honor and decency and stand up for their principles. To me, that's much more manly than being able to punch somebody out.

Nick Offerman will take his one-man show to the stage at Upper Darby's Tower Theater on Tuesday, September 3rd. Tickets are available at Live Nation.

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