All the Ways Nick Offerman Is Not Ron Swanson

Despite what you might think, Offerman is no ‘cigar-smoking shotgun enthusiast’
All the Ways Nick Offerman Is Not Ron Swanson

A significant portion of Nick Offerman fans believes Offerman actually is (at least more or less) Ron Swanson. That’s why he has to spend a portion of his live shows disproving that notion. Heck, he even wrote a song about it.

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Offerman’s problem with fans’ outsized expectations is summed up in the first verse:

I understand you've come to love another man
He’s studly and heroic so I completely understand 
But now your expectations are a little high, I fear 
Because if I had to live like him, I might be dead within a year 

So how is Offerman different from his Parks and Recreation creation? The song spells out some of the dissimilarities. When it comes to diet, actual human being Offerman can’t subsist on a Swanson diet of eggs and bacon, Scotch, and steak. After all, he’s only mortal, with a normal human colon and liver. He’d like to avoid heart attacks, thanks. Unlike Swanson, Offerman does not think public libraries are the buttholes of Satan. His saxophone skills do not make the ladies’ panties drop. While there are some similarities — they both like to paddle canoes and are attracted to women who look like Megan Mullally — Offerman insists he’s Charlie Brown to Swanson’s Charles Bronson.

Most people at his live shows get it, Offerman recently told The Washington Post, but not all. “There is a small percentage of the uninitiated who think that I’m gonna be a cigar-smoking shotgun enthusiast,” he says, “so I usually have seven to 11 people leave in a huff muttering about what a snowflake I am.”

Even Ron Swanson isn’t like Ron Swanson. Or at least, he’s not like the Swanson that lives in some fans’ heads, a problem Offerman attributes to poor reading comprehension. “(Swanson is) truly a very progressive and open Libertarian,” he says. “He’s not right-wing, he’s not misogynist. He’s an incredible feminist, he’s a very gentle soul who just happens to have these old-fashioned, conservative ways of living.”

So if that’s Ron Swanson, who the hell is Nick Offerman? It’s a surprise to him that some fans hold him up as a portrait of modern (or throwback) masculinity. Chalk it up to the baritone voice that comes from his “beefy torso,” along with books he’s written about American patriots, paddling canoes and woodworking. But Offerman, like all of us as they say, contains multitudes. “I’m a complicated, artistic, creative human being,” he says, confessing in his song that he cried like a baby when Bing Bong died in Inside Out. “I’m a giggly sap who also is good at chopping firewood and driving equipment and grilling red meat.” 

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