Nick Offerman has opinions. "American Ham," his one-man show at the Barrymore Theatre on Saturday, was less a standup act than a treatise on vegetarians (dead wrong), the Bible (mostly wrong) and elf genitalia (velvety).
During the first of his two sold-out performances, Offerman laid out his 10 tips for better living. His advice ranged from simple suggestions like "eat red meat" to more involved theories, like "maintain a relationship with Jesus Christ... if it's getting you sex." While the subject matter was diverse, the message remained the same. Offerman, much like his hyper-manly alter-ego on NBC's Parks and Recreation, Ron Swanson, extols simple pleasures.
From the moment he came onstage, bare-chested, holding a guitar and an American flag shirt, Offerman provided the mostly young audience with an irreverent take on the universe. He believes in decency, common sense, and the beauty of animal instinct (read: raunchy sexual acts). His persona was a study in contrasts -- a mix of the old-fashioned and the progressive. On the one hand, he dismissed cellphones as a nefarious distraction, encouraging the notion that "there's always something better somewhere else." On the other, he fervently promoted psychedelic drugs as an occasional escape for responsible adults. Offerman alternated between earnest advice on how to make a long-term romantic relationship work and vivid descriptions of cunnilingus.
"The moral of the story," as Offerman put it, is that there is nothing wrong with pursuing the basest sort of pleasure -- that, in fact, such a pursuit can be reconciled with decency. His wisdom-sharing might have bordered on self-righteousness, but he offset his serious messages with delightfully coarse set pieces and songs, not to mention a heaping helping of absurdity.
Offerman spoke in his rich baritone, with a deadpan expression. He made no attempt to look glamorous, wearing old blue-jeans and keeping that American flag shirt untucked. This was fitting, as he expressed distaste for the Hollywood-style version of beauty. "If you're a human, you're beautiful," he proclaimed.
The standing ovation at the end of the show affirmed that Nick Offerman is, indeed, beautiful.