Published Jul 19, 2016Nick Offerman has cultivated a Hollywood persona as a wood-chopping, meat-devouring, manlier-than-thou fellow, brought to the masses by his Ron Swanson character on Parks and Recreation. Swanson was adeptly written as the literary lumberjack, a rugged but refined Renaissance man — providing contrast to other half-hour comedies led by groups of super-geeks and hopelessly romantic male protagonists, but also harkening back to many age-old masculine stereotypes.
Offerman's 2014 comedy special American Ham seeks to introduce audiences to the real man behind the ridiculous whiskey-drinking, breakfast-loving sitcom hero (though you'd be forgiven for failing to tell the two apart) by way of a list of tips for living a "prosperous life."
It opens with Offerman on stage in the nude, but it's not long before he's donning a button-up denim shirt emblazoned with the American Flag. From there, he begins sharing his sage advice in his signature style of deadpan sarcasm, punctuated by some musical bits with an acoustic guitar.
He spouts love advice, using his marriage to Megan Mullally as the reference point, sharing the secret to that relationship's success: "We're boring." It's one of his funnier segments (joking that they spend their downtime watching HGTV, then doing a shitload of cocaine to give them the added boost of energy needed to piece together puzzles), but also surprisingly sweet (like his insistence on crafting homemade cards).
Another segment hears Offerman reminding people to say please and thank you, reminding folks that, "It's a lot more fun to have eight people with one beer each than one guy with eight beers," then demonstrating how manners can go a long way in situations that range from road rage to religion to politics.
Other keys to happy living include rules like using your handkerchief, eating red meat, avoiding the mirror, maintaining a relationship with Jesus (if it gets you laid), and using intoxicants to really make the most of your time here on earth. It all wraps up with a final rule made into a song: "Paddle your own canoe." The accompanying ditty serves as a summary of Offerman's hour's worth of teachings, compiling the best bits and closing the set on a high note.
There are plenty of chuckles to be had (or perhaps even a Swanson-esque schoolgirl giggle) throughout American Ham, and even a few surprisingly earnest observations about the ways in which people could treat each other a lot more kindly, but the "I am man; I like bacon" shtick gets tiresome pretty quickly for anyone who doesn't already subscribe to the booze-swiggin', axe-wielding, steak-eating lifestyle championed throughout the show.
Exclaim! is reviewing every standup comedy special currently available on Netflix Canada, including this one. You can find a complete list of reviews so far here.