I have been to NYC numerous times and it wasn’t until BEA in May that I had a chance to attend some book events. Now, returning to the city for some business meetings, I was eager to find some book events to check out in the evening during some free time. Cut to Wednesday afternoon and my team and I were just in the Union Square area when my friend Jenn (Writer’s Block) texts me that Nick Offerman (aka Ron Swanson from Parks & Recreation) was going to be at the Barnes & Noble at Union Square, and that she was already there with her boyfriend. Once we were done our meetings for the day I zoomed over to the B&N, picked up a copy of Paddle Your Own Canoe and went to find Jenn who had saved me a seat with them in the 3rd row!
I loved seeing how book events are done outside of the usual bookstores in Toronto that I always go to for book signings. This B&N has a HUGE open event space on the 4th floor that was filled with fans, with people still lining up on the 3rd and 2nd levels to get their books signed. He was to take the stage at 7pm, but at around 6:30 he suddenly comes up on stage with no introduction. He was doing his sound check with his guitar, giving us a sneak peak at his performance with the same level of enthusiasm from the crowd as if he was doing it proper. He told us to save it for when he’s actually performing later. He does a few bits from songs, fake-reads from his book and heads back out again.
Finally, just after 7pm he returns back onto the stage donning a stars & stripes shirt. He speaks lovingly of his wife, the hilarious Megan Mullally, and shares with us the song he had written for her 50th birthday when she wanted him to give her a rainbow. Nick then reads a passage from his book about him and his friend break dancing in their youth. Cut back over to the guitar where he performed another song to counteract his dislike for Carrie Underwood’s Jesus Take the Wheel (with some funny and 100% valid observations). Before the Q&As began, Nick read one more passage from his book about The Mustache. What is so incredibly charming and amazing is Nick’s infectious laugh. It’s basically Ron Swanson’s laugh. Every time he cracked himself up or laughed at something, the entire crowd just exploded into laughter too.
After a brief Q&A period, the B&N team re-set the stage up so it was conducive for book signing. He had mentioned being at the museum in Peterborough earlier in the discussion so I chatted with him about being from Canada, and he told me that I just had to check out the museum… that it was amazing. Jenn’s boyfriend got the attention of Nick and those around him in line when he pulled out a plush toy of Lil’ Sebastian for him to sign. So much awesomeness.
What luck! I was so incredibly excited to have had a chance to see the hilarious Nick Offerman in person and conveniently had been in the area at that moment! Truly a joy to see just how much of Nick is in his Ron Swanson character. Such wry humour, such dry wit.
I’ve spliced together a few snippets of the videos I took at the event. The first is a short sound check of him singing with his guitar, the second is a sound check for his book reading and the third is him answering a bizarrely-worded question from the audience (where you hear that infectious laugh at about the 0:52 second mark or so)