A Child-sized "Parks and Rec" Post

Chris Pratt Is Determined to Hit 300 Pounds by Thanksgiving

That was real pain you saw on Chris Pratt’s face during last night’s episode of Parks and Recreation, in which Andy began training for the police academy. “I ran one lap and my thighs kept rubbing together. They got pretty raw,” Pratt told Vulture during a recent set visit. He was ripped earlier this year while shooting Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty, but since June has gained more than 40 pounds in preparation for playing a lawyer in the comedy Starbuck, starring Vince Vaughn as a man who learns he’s fathered 533 children through sperm donations.

“This is what 275 looks like,” he said sitting in his trailer, contentedly rubbing his protruding belly. “All man right here.”

We’d been discussing Andy’s progress in becoming a cop when Pratt revealed that he’d been fattening up in the grand tradition of Robert De Niro and Rob McElhenney. He wants to hit 300 pounds by November, and at the moment his energy is almost non-existent. “If I just keep eating I can maintain a buzz, like a sugar food buzz. But if I’m in the background of a scene, I’m definitely sitting,” he said. Pratt’s wife Anna Faris doesn’t mind his expanding frame because he says he’s been doing it in a healthy way via “super gross but pretty tasty” weight gain shakes. Well, at least when he’s not indulging in fast food. “I will hit a couple of burgers like it’s laced with crack cocaine. Oooh, I love it.”

“I just like to gain weight and lose weight," he said. (And indeed, two years ago he showed Vulture his regimen for packing on the pounds he lost for Moneyball.) "It’s a rollercoaster. I just want to do this. I want to touch God." He then added, “Sorry, I almost have to take a nap now just from that talk.”

Amy Poehler Reveals the Six Bizarre Habits of Adam Scott

When I interviewed Adam Scott for a feature for New York Magazine in August, I asked him about working with Amy Poehler not just on Parks and Recreation as Leslie Knope's boyfriend Ben, but on the movie A.C.O.D. (out next year; she plays his stepmother and nemesis). He said, quite sincerely, “I just love, love working with her so much that if I could, I would love to work with her on every single thing.” When I called Poehler to talk about Scott, however, I got a far more complicated response. Here are Poehler’s six weirdest (and not particularly true) observations of her co-star. And one bonus one from Jon Hamm.

• I told Poehler that Scott had asked me to come see his storage unit (under the auspices of looking for a note Martin Scorsese had given him ten years prior). “He’s been known to do that,” said Poehler, “He says, ‘Hey, I’ve got a really cool storage unit. I gotta really big storage unit that I want you to see,’ and I go, ‘Okay,’ and then he just drags me around the corner and pulls his pants down. It’s his weird way of introducing himself to people.”

• Often he just forgoes the storage-unit ruse. “There’s a lot of things people don’t know about Adam. He loves taking off his pants,” says Poehler. “Just takes them down all the time. Literally, he cannot keep his pants on. Like, we’ll be doing a scene and we’ll look down and Adam won’t have any pants on, and we’ll be like, ‘Adam! We’re in Senator Boxer’s office! Put your pants back on!’ And he’s like, ‘Oh.’”

• He is a dangerous drunk. “He maintains. He doesn’t get sloppy. So just know that if he does kill you and put you in that storage unit, no one will ever find you. He’s really, really precise and he knows how to cover tracks.”

• He fancies himself a true thespian. “He loves to talk about acting,” she says. “And he’ll just, in the middle of the scene, stop and say, ‘Wait a minute, I need to get back to the craft.’ And I’ll say, ‘Okay man, whatever you need.’ And he’ll just, like, pace around a room or he’ll go punch a wall. You know, a lot of people don’t know that he used to be an acting teacher. He taught in his basement for, like, fifteen years before he made it in Hollywood — or ‘Holly Weird’, as he likes to call it. And man, he just loves to talk about craft, process. Every morning, you’ll be, like, ‘Hey, Adam!’ And he’ll be like, ‘No, no, no.’ I’ll be, like, ‘Oh, sorry. Hey, Ben.’”

• He is a complicated acting partner. “Adam has this technique which is really cool,” she says, “which is when the camera’s on me and I’m talking to him, he turns around and makes me deliver the lines to the back of his head. And also when I do it, he shakes his head no. It’s a challenge because it makes me be like, ‘Right, right, I guess I’m not really delivering.’ It’s those little things that for some people make him seem like a total just terrible person to work with. But for me it’s a challenge."

• And now, a quick interjected revelation from Jon Hamm, who also had something to say about his friend Scott. “He’s bipenal, six toes on his right foot. That’s kind of creepy, but it makes him an excellent swimmer. He tends to swim in circles to the left. He has an overpowering kick with his right foot. But the weird thing is that his two penises act like a rudder and he can steer with those.”

But really, folks, Amy Poehler loves Adam Scott. “I feel confident that Adam can handle my jokes. But I’ll give you a genuine quote. Adam is such a rare combination of a tremendously real actor and a very facile, comedic performer,” she says. “So he can go really fun and funny and big, and likes to be really stupid, but in the real moments in between those moments, which I feel proud of that we have on our show, he’s just really such a good actor ... He is really generous and kind and like a real pro.” She pauses. “And by 'pro' I mean prostitute. But he’s such a wonderful, kind, and funny male prostitute. It’s rare. It’s rare … I mean, I don’t know where it started, and I really hope it ends kind of soon, because it’s really getting in the way of our call times and everything. But whatever, man. He’s from Santa Cruz. They’re freethinkers over there.”

Interview with Nick Offerman


Nick Offerman’s ten tips for prosperity (from his one-man show):
Practice romantic love
Say “please” and “thank you”
Carry a handkerchief
Have a hobby
Eat red meat
Go outside
Avoid the mirror
Maintain a relationship with Jesus Christ
Use intoxicants
Paddle your own canoe

Ron Swanson is every woman’s man—and every man’s man, too. Portrayed by Nick Offerman, the mustachioed patriarch of Parks and Recreation is a true bridge-builder (literally and figuratively), charming Midwestern farmers and art-school punks alike. If Amy Poehler’s Leslie Knope is the Candide of Parks and Rec, convinced that Pawnee is the best of all possible worlds, then Ron Swanson is James Fenimore Cooper’s Hawkeye, a lone wolf who resolutely goes against the grain. They don’t make guys like this anymore.

Most people who know Ron Swanson don’t know Nick Offerman. A veteran Chicago actor, Offerman toiled for years at the Defiant Theatre, which he cofounded, and later at Steppenwolf Theatre Company, supporting himself along the way as a theatrical-set builder. Upon his move to Los Angeles, casting agents swore he was doomed to a lifetime of blue-collar roles: bus drivers, plumbers, construction workers. His early movie appearances were mostly relegated to the cutting-room floor. After years of doing meaty roles in obscure theater productions and bit parts on major TV shows, Offerman hit the big time in Parks and Recreation. These days, he’s so closely identified with the show, fans often can’t—or won’t—separate him from Ron Swanson.

Offerman lives in the hills of Los Angeles with his wife, Megan Mullally, an actress known for her role as scene-stealing dipsomaniac Karen Walker on Will & Grace. He runs Offerman Woodshop out of a converted warehouse in Atwater Village, where he builds tables, canoes, and—perhaps someday, he says—a guitar. This year, he began touring colleges with a version of his one-man show, American Ham, playing songs and offering cheeky yet practical tips for prosperity and happiness.

We were introduced through Robert Takata, a mutual friend. It went well: we met and ate meat at two of his favorite L.A. eateries—the Tam O’Shanter, a throwback Scottish restaurant, and the Red Lion Tavern, a throwback German restaurant. Offerman spoke about theater, comedy, the perils of the internet, and every other topic I offered. Loosen a man’s tongue with meat and he’ll divulge all.

—Elina Shatkin


THE BELIEVER: We’ve talked about the way fans adore Ron Swanson’s disdain for moderation, that superhuman aspect of Ron.

NICK OFFERMAN: In terms of eating meat alone, everybody can understand the hero worship of someone who can eat an entire bucket of lard in one sitting. That would kill us. Ron can drink an amount of whiskey that would send me to the hospital or my grave. And that’s to be admired, to be celebrated.

BLVR: There’s just enough crossover from your life to his. Was Ron a woodworker before you came along with your woodshop?

NO: I’d been cast. I’d be on the phone with the writers and I’d say, “Hang on. I’m at my shop. I gotta shut off the band saw.” As that sank in the second or third time, they said, “We’re coming over there.” The entire writing staff got in a van and came to my shop. They immediately were like, “Your character has a woodshop.”

BLVR: How long does it take to grow Ron’s mustache?

NO: Two weeks is a passable mustache. It’s like, “Yeah, that’s a mustache.” But it takes longer for the upper nasal labial whiskers to reach the top lip. To grow the full ’stache is five to six weeks. Fun fact: facial hair is the provenance of the makeup department, not the hair department.
We have this amazing makeup head named Autumn Butler, and she takes a lot of pride in maintaining Ron Swanson’s mustache.

BLVR: Are you fairly hirsute?

NO: I have a very healthy growth of both head and facial hair. People always want to attribute further superhuman powers to me. It’s funny the way the audience really seems to want me, Nick the actor, to exhibit the same machismo as Ron Swanson. They’re like, “You could chop a whole forest of trees down in ten minutes, right?” No, I exist in reality.

BLVR: Do you put on weight to play Ron? You look a lot heavier and older on Parks and Rec.

NO: No, I don’t. Although [cocreator and executive producer] Mike Schur has asked me not to trim up. The camera really does add ten pounds. We also dress Ron in a way that points out the parts of my body that are not buff. He always wears these thick shirts tucked into pleated pants. He doesn’t try to stand in a way that he’s going to be on the cover of some sort of exercising publication. It doesn’t take long at all to become Ron Swanson. It’s just incumbent upon me to have enough hair.

BLVR: You do have a great poof of hair on the show.

NO: Yeah. They add stuff to it. They blow-dry it and brush it out into this big edifice.

BLVR: That’s far more effort than Ron Swanson would ever put into his hair.

NO: I’m not sure if we ever made an episode about it, but we talked once about how Ron gets up in the morning, runs a comb through his hair, and this is what happens.

BLVR: The Ron Swanson method of hair care.

NO: I’ve never looked the same way for so long in my whole life. I always drastically changed my look for each role. It’s gotten a little tedious in real life, also, because there’s no hiding.

BLVR: Without the hair and mustache, I could see fans walking past and not noticing you.

NO: It’s definitely my best disguise. The ultimate disguise is nothing. Nudity.

BLVR: You change a lot of things to become Ron Swanson, but Ron’s laugh is your real laugh. It’s somewhere between very burly and very giggly.

NO: Is that a question? [Smiling] I’m not that calculating of a performer that I’m like, What’s Ron’s laugh going to be like? [Sounds of Nick getting Method actor–y] “Heeeheeehmmm… No, that’s too… Hohoho… No, that’s too Bluto.” Whatever comes out in a scene comes out. The older I get, the more people seem to react to my laughter. It’s a strange thing. Maybe it’s that the more curmudgeonly I get, they’re like, “Oh my god. A flower grew out of that cow turd.”

BLVR: Could you ever see Ron Swanson running for president?

NO: I think if a plan was presented to him to implode the government, you could probably get him to listen to your pitch.

BLVR: Who would his inaugural poet be?

NO: Probably himself. Or Wendell Berry. I think Ron would be a big Wendell Berry fan.


BLVR: How did you get into theater?

NO: Dude, it’s strange and unlikely. I grew up in this little farm town, Minooka, Illinois. It was the ’70s and ’80s. I did not have access to much culture outside of the Top 40 radio station and the three TV networks. We’d have to drive half an hour to Morris to see a movie, and it was usually Benji or some Disney movie. On the radio it was John Denver. Super pop stuff.

My uncle would take us to get ice cream in Joliet in his Pontiac Firebird with the golden phoenix on the hood. Uncle Don was super badass. He would play Frank Zappa, but we couldn’t tell our mom. He wasn’t supposed to be playing us Zappa. That was huge for me. That was one of the only inklings I had that there was more out there. It was like, “Oh, wow. Some people are funny and awesome.” John Denver’s great, but there are other flavors.

BLVR: How did your uncle come to Frank Zappa?

NO: That’s a very good question. I always say what jumped me ahead light years in my acculturation was when I got to the theater department [at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign], the friends I made were all super cool kids. My best friend—we were two of the main forces in our theater company—was from Monmouth, Illinois. He was also from a little town in the middle of the country, but he had really cool older siblings who turned him on to good music and film. He was like, “Nick, I like you. We’re going to be friends, but we’ve got to get you caught up. This is the Beatles. This is ‘The White Album.’” I was like, “These guys are fucking amazing!”

BLVR: When was this?

NO: This was 1988. I was listening to garbage. I was really into Wham! UK and Duran Duran and Bryan Adams. My girlfriend and I would watch movies and buy the soundtracks. I loved Peter Cetera, Chicago. They were so delicious, my college years, because I had so much catching up to do. David Bowie, Tom Waits, everything.

BLVR: How did you end up in the theater department?

NO: I didn’t have an inspired idea for what I wanted my life to be. I played the saxophone, so I thought, Maybe I’ll major in music and try to go somewhere with the sax. My girlfriend, the born-again Christian, was auditioning for the dance department at Urbana-Champaign. I drove her three hours to the audition. While waiting for her, I was in the hallway of the performing-arts building—a beautiful facility—and I met some theater students. I said, “What do you mean, you’re theater students?” And they said, “We study acting and plays.” I said, “You can do that for a job?” I was completely blown away. I went home and told my parents: “You can get a job acting in plays and make money doing that.”

BLVR: Did they believe you?

NO: They did. So I went and auditioned. They have a really nice theater conservatory. It’s great training for regional theater—Shakespeare, period plays, contemporary theater like Noel Coward and Neil Simon. I was terrible when I started. I couldn’t get cast. I sucked. I improved enough that by the time I graduated, my friends and I had a theater company.

BLVR: What was it called?

NO: The Defiant Theatre.

BLVR: That’s a good name for a theater company run by twenty-two-year-olds.

NO: We were very irreverent. They valued me because I could build all the scenery. That was the deal: let’s give Nick this little part, he’ll build the set, and we come out ahead. We graduated and moved to Chicago. I started producing professionally. I kept getting slightly bigger parts and eventually became decent at acting.

BLVR: So you’re in Chicago with your own company, putting on small productions. It seems like a hard row to hoe.

NO: It made sense, though. Union or equity theater in Chicago is comparable in a general way to Broadway. Non-union or non-equity theater is a substantial enough scene that it’s comparable to off-Broadway, certainly off-off-Broadway. It’s not underground and obscure. The equity stage actors union is much more stringent in Chicago. I had to avoid the union in order to keep performing with my company, but it was important for me because it gave me a much more experimental platform. If I had just started plugging away trying to be huge, auditioning at big theaters and trying to get a job with everybody, I’d probably still be there. Instead, I stayed on the side and learned. Chicago was very much like a graduate program for me.

BLVR: You worked with Steppenwolf Theatre Company.

NO: I did. I had such a great time working with them. It was a tricky place to be. I learned over the course of five shows that to be an up-and-coming twenty-six-year-old had a certain statute of limitations in a company with a bunch of really great thirty-eight-year-olds who were still taking the twenty-six-year-old parts.

They would choose to do these shows like A Streetcar Named Desire. Stanley Kowalski, in the script, is twenty-eight. I was like, “Could I have a shot at it?” They called me and asked me if I wanted to understudy Gary Sinise, who was going to be playing Stanley. I was like, “Of course. It’s your company. You’re amazing. You’re forty… but it doesn’t matter. It’s theater.” He played it and was fantastic. It was a wake-up call: I can only go so far at this theater. If I wanted to get the best parts in the show, I had to go someplace else. I had a lot of fun doing supporting roles there. I was their fight choreographer for some shows.

BLVR: You have all sorts of hidden talents.

NO: I don’t get much call for my swordplay skills these days.

BLVR: Who else was at Steppenwolf when you were there?

NO: I did Sam Shepard’s Buried Child. Gary Sinise directed it. Sam came and did rewrites, which was crazy. He sent me out for a bottle of Maker’s Mark—which is how I learned what Maker’s Mark was. That was an incredibly fancy bottle of bourbon at the time. It still is. [John] Malkovich came and did The Libertine. I feel like he maybe even commissioned that script, but enough time had gone by that Johnny Depp played his part and he played the king. Michael Shannon was a contemporary of mine.

BLVR: Michael Shannon who’s now in Boardwalk Empire?

NO: Yeah, he’s great. When I was twenty-six, he was twenty, maybe. He was kind of a savant. We did a play together at the Red Orchid Theatre that was one of the greatest things I’ve ever gotten to do. Laurie Metcalf did a play while we were there. Fran Guinan. This guy named Jeff Perry, who I’m still very good friends with. I did Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying with him. It was the place where I first saw famous people. Ethan Hawke was in Buried Child, and Keanu came to see him. We all went out for a beer. It was where I learned movie stars are normal people.


BLVR: What inspired the move to L.A.? It’s such a different world. It’s mostly about auditioning for movies and TV shows, getting a sitcom pilot. It seems like 180 degrees from theater in Chicago.

NO: An important ingredient in my decision to move to L.A. was my ignorance of that fact. It would stand to reason that Los Angeles, a bigger city with a much huger population of acting talent, would have a better theater community than Chicago. Sadly, that is completely false. The L.A. theater community is such a pale shadow of Chicago’s. But I didn’t know that.

BLVR: Did no one tell you about New York?

NO: I had not heard of New York City. I heard it mentioned on a couple David Bowie records and I thought it was a fictional city. In fact, it was the clear choice if you’re going to leave Chicago. I had a girlfriend at the time who was from Mexico, and she said, “No, motherfucker. I’ve been in Chicago for five years. We’re moving to where it’s warm.”

I had come out here to do a job for Nickelodeon, some weird kid show. I was like, “Great, we’ll move to L.A.” Then she flaked out and disappeared. She turned up back in Mexico—I think she is a really successful Mexican actress now—but I already had everything in motion, so I came here by myself.

BLVR: So you came out to L.A. for a girl.

NO: [Contemplative] Mmmhmm… in many ways. It’s a great what-if to consider how things would have turned out if I had continued to grow in a theater community. It’s possible to reach a sort of plateau in Chicago. And I did. I had this really nice year in ’96. I did a couple of the best plays I’ve done in my life. One was this crazy kabuki version of Alfred Jarry’s Ubu Roi. It was big and carnivalesque, with elements of Tex Avery and Cirque du Soleil. I think it was the greatest show our company ever did. Then I did this seven-hour play called The Kentucky Cycle by Robert Schenkkan. It’s nine one-act plays, all set on a piece of land in Kentucky. They go from 1776 to 1976. It’s really, really wonderful, and I won a Chicago theater trophy.

BLVR: What do they call that?

NO: Joseph Jefferson Awards.

BLVR: The Jeffys?

NO: We call them the Jeffs. I had a couple of role models. It became more and more clear to me that while they were my heroes in the theater, they were also kind of sad. One of them was a drunk, one of them never had an apartment. He always slept on his girlfriend’s couch, but his relationships would be volatile. In three years, I helped him move to five different couches.

BLVR: How long does it take to move someone to a couch?

NO: About two hours.

BLVR: In Los Angeles, you were getting typecast as blue-collar guys, being told this is all you’d ever play: truck drivers—

NO: Plumbers. I’d go to a meeting, they’d look at my résumé, and they’d have no idea what all these theater words were. When I got to Los Angeles, one of the things I was told is: you should watch every show on TV, at least one episode, so that when you audition you know what kind of bullshit they’re selling. Anytime I would hear that, I would think, I’m not going to watch any TV shows. That way I’m guaranteed to be different from all the douchebags trying to act like James Van Der Beek.

BLVR: That’s how you flubbed the Dawson’s Creek audition, isn’t it?

NO: It is.

BLVR: You would have been a good Dawson.

NO: It would have been another way to go. He would have changed a tire a little more quickly.

BLVR: Were you not cast much the first two years you were in Los Angeles?

NO: I did a couple plays that actually did me some good. I did a Mike Leigh play called Ecstasy. Some casting directors came to it. I began to work. I did a live episode of ER. I was getting a few nice roles a year, but it was two steps back. I had been doing two hours’ worth of excellent literature and now I was excited to get five lines on NYPD Blue.

I never went too long without a job. The problem was a lot of the early jobs here are almost more demoralizing than unemployment.

BLVR: At what point did you meet Megan [Mullally]?

NO: It was sort of the end of the rocky period. In 2000.

BLVR: Was she the harbinger of better times?

NO: Absolutely. She was literally the answer to my prayers. I was drinking a lot of bourbon. I was miserable. I was starting to get work, but it wasn’t remotely satisfying. It was garbage compared to the theater I was doing. I realized what I needed to do was find a piece of theater that I could sort of reestablish my manhood upon. I needed to do a play. [Casting directors] Nicole Arbusto and Joy Dickson hooked me up with a play at this company called the Evidence Room.

BLVR: That used to be in the Bootleg Theater, right?

NO: Yeah, it’s a long, sordid tale. The landlords of the Bootleg were in our company. I helped them build that space into what it is. That was where Megan and I met.

BLVR: What play were you doing?

NO: The Berlin Circle. It was the first play in the space. I think I did eight shows there over five or six years. It’s a very magical place for us. It was considered sort of the most relevant underground-theater company in L.A.

Megan and I, neither of us knew anyone else in the whole production. We had both come to it in the same way, where we were like, “I really want to do something good in theater right now.” It was right after season two of Will & Grace.

BLVR: So she was already pretty famous.

NO: I was living in a basement in Silver Lake and hadn’t had a TV for ten years. I hadn’t seen Will & Grace. When I went to audition for the play, they said, “We have Megan Mullally.” I was like, “I know you’re saying that as an incentive, but I’m not impressed. I’m from the theater. I don’t need some TV chick in the play.”

At the first read-through, Megan was so funny. And cute. But that didn’t hit me yet. We were both staunchly single at the time. I was like, “Whatever. She’s cute.” I was in some kind of denial.

BLVR: Was she funny in the role or in person?

NO: Unbeknownst to me, everybody else was really freaked out by her because they were huge fans of Will & Grace. So we do this read-through, and she was so funny, masterful and smart. I immediately went up to her and I was like, “Hey, I’m Nick. You’re super funny. I think this is going to be really fun. Anyway, take it easy. I gotta go put my tool belt on and build some shit. You can watch—if you want.” She thought, I guess they haven’t cast this part yet, and they’re having the plumber friend read it. Partway through, she thought, The plumber’s pretty good. They should cast this guy.


BLVR: When you go to a college, do people expect something closer to Ron Swanson than Nick Offerman?

NO: At most of these schools, the students run the activities board. A lot of the requests will say things like “We don’t even care if Nick Offerman shows up. We just want Ron Swanson.” They say things that they clearly don’t understand might be hurtful. [Laughs] They’re being enthusiastic, but I would say to them: we love Ron Swanson in doses of two minutes a week. Ron never has more than four or five lines in a scene. If you had Ron Swanson for ninety minutes onstage, he would probably talk to you for forty-five minutes about how to shave your own ax handle.

BLVR: Where did you take up woodworking?

NO: In Chicago. By the time I left, I had my own little shop in a warehouse where I was building scenery. When I got to L.A., I couldn’t find the same kind of gig. I looked into a few shops, but I was too honest with them. What I should have done was not tell them I was an actor. Just start working there and after a couple months, say, “Oh, I’ve got an audition.” By then, they’d love me and it would be OK.

BLVR: How did you get into canoeing?

NO: Right up the road from where I grew up was Aux Sable Creek. [Offerman pronounces it “crick.”] I would take the ladies down the creek in my canoe. There was a beaver dam over by the Haaverdings’ farm. At dusk they would swim by the canoe and slap their tails. It was quite erotic.

BLVR: Any thoughts of canoeing down the L.A. River?

NO: Sure. The main reason I’m not running out to do it is I feel a few artistic hands have done it and written about it.

BLVR: Can you canoe it unironically?

NO: Canoeing the L.A. River unironically is like doing non-union theater in Chicago. Not a lot of people are going to hear about it, but you have the beauty of performing in a Harold Pinter play and you’re just happy to have done it.

BLVR: How did you become such a contrarian?

NO: When I was in fourth grade, we were learning vocabulary words, and the word nonconformist came up. The teacher said, “It’s somebody who whatever everybody is doing, they do the opposite.” I remember raising my hand and saying, “Mrs. Christiansen, I would like to be a nonconformist.”

BLVR: The business of engendering mirth is not an easy one. The thing that struck me about your “Ten Tips for Prosperity” was that most of them were very basic sandbox rules. Except “Use intoxicants”—I don’t know a lot of hammered five-year-olds.

NO: I wouldn’t start pushing that until eleven or twelve. There’s a lot of common sense to it, which I feel like we have lost touch with. If I put down my tweeter machine for a minute, I actually can communicate with people. As an aside, astonishingly, I just started doing Twitter. Yesterday.

BLVR: Last time we talked, you said you and Megan had consciously chosen to be neo-Luddites, avoiding Facebook, Twitter, using a shared email address.

NO: Just answering emails is such an insane monkey on my back.

BLVR: Why the sudden change?

NO: I was writing an email to Conan O’Brien and Rob Corddry, who are my two friends with the most followers on Twitter. I was going to ask them to tweet the link to the trailer for this movie I produced. It occurred to me that my reticence to know anything about Facebook and Twitter was not proper etiquette. It isn’t cool to make your friends go to the trouble of maintaining a Twitter thing and exploit it. It would be like, “Hey, you own a series of billboards. Would you mind advertising my product on them?” If you want to do this, do it yourself. Or shut up.

BLVR: Paddle your own canoe. Rule number ten.

NO: Paddle your own canoe. It’s been a difficult learning process. I sent one tweet yesterday about watching my wife’s show, which premiered last night. I can’t bring myself to do it again. Yet. I feel I need to address the change in policy. I just have to figure out how to do that.

BLVR: Maybe a press release that says: “Nick Offerman no longer hates the internet.”

NO: That’s the thing. I still hate it. When I signed up, my assistant sent me my user name and password. Then it says, “Sign up for who you want to follow.” I look at “entertainment.” Alec Baldwin. I love Alec. So I sign up for Alec. By the time I get to the next step, it buzzes and there are thirty-eight tweets from him. The tweets are like “Man, Elvis was so cool,” and a link, presumably to something about Elvis. And another tweet: “Seriously, check out how cool.” A minute and a half into signing up, I’m like, get Alec Baldwin off! Alec is very much a hero to me, but I don’t want to be receiving his Twitter messages.

Serious side to stand-up

AS AZIZ Ansari worked on material for his new stand-up show, Buried Alive, he realised certain themes were emerging, and it also occurred to him they were something to do with, he says on the phone from Los Angeles, his turning 30 next February.

If there is any influence on the material, the unlikely source is Richard Linklater's 2004 romantic drama Before Sunset, starring Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke.

Like its predecessor, Before Sunrise, the movie is about choices - about a couple who meet by chance while travelling, part within a short time, promise to see each other again in six months, then don't have contact for another nine years. By that time, their lives have taken very different directions.

''I loved those movies,'' Ansari says. ''Their ruminations are about the things that I discuss in my show, but in a more aggressively comedic fashion. Things like being a single man confronted with friends who are suddenly partnering, marrying, having babies. And I'm equally bewildered, like Julie Delpy's character, about the idea of meeting one person that you want to spend your whole life with. That's insane, right?''

Ansari started stand-up at university and moved swiftly from a degree in marketing at NYU to working in a three-man sketch-comedy team called Human Giant.

On TV he's a founding member of Parks And Recreation, he has had a stint in Scrubs and he's the New York guy with the fruit stand who hates New Zealanders in a Flight of the Conchords episode. He's had roles in several movies, including as the over-the-top comedian Randy in Judd Apatow's Funny People.

In between, he has been doing stand-up when he can. Buried Alive is completely new material, he says; he doesn't do anything in this show about messing with his young cousin Harris on his Facebook study group or hanging out with Kanye West or wasting time on the internet.
''There's no point in touring old stuff,'' he says. ''I've been doing this for 11 years and I think this is my strongest show.''

His Australian trip comes in between filming for season five of Parks And Recreation, the ensemble TV show he's been in since 2009, which has found a rich comic vein in the workings of local government.

Ansari's character, Tom Haverford, is an employee, in name only, of the parks department. He is a magnificently indolent, aspiring hustler with disconcerting (and rare) moments of vulnerability and charm.

Ansari has several feature projects in the pipeline but now, he says, he's focused on Buried Alive. ''Stand-up is a singular, solitary thing, it's just you, and you're in control of everything. That's what I like about it. [It] takes months of going to small clubs and working through material. By the time you start a tour, it's like you've finished honing and fine-turning this one-person play and now you're taking it on the road.''

Aziz Ansari, Buried Alive is at Hamer Hall on Tuesday.

Showrunners 2012: 'Parks and Recreation's' Mike Schur

What writer would he like to add to his writers' room? "It wouldn't work for me to add David Simon or Vince Gilligan because what's the point of having those guys if they're not creating their own material," he says.

From their obsessive rituals (Peppermint Patties! Oatmeal! Bruce Springsteen!) to the parts of their jobs they hate most (killing characters off, dealing with agents), TV's most influential writer-producers featured on The Hollywood Reporter's annual list of the Top 50 Showrunners come clean about the people, things and quirky habits that keep them -- and their shows -- alive.

Mike Schur, Parks and Recreation (NBC)
The show that inspired me to write:

Schur: Cheers was probably the first show that I was ever was religious about. But there was also Saturday Night Live and The Late Show With David Letterman. When I watched them at the time, I didn't fully understand that there were writers. I don't think that's a thing that occurs to most people but when I learned that there were writers who wrote those jokes and the sketches, that was a revelation to me. Those made me want to be like a comedy writer and then Cheers made me want to writelongform TV and not just sketches.

My big break:
Schur: My first TV job was SNL in 1998. Before that I had done little dribs and drabs. Technically my first ever professional writing experience was John Stewart hired me to pitch some ideas for a book he was writing, and he probably used one-fourth of one of the ideas that I pitched him, butvery kindly paid me actual American money, which was a miracle to me at thetime because it meant that I could stay in New York and pay my rent. I was 21, right out of college and then I got hired at SNL about six months later.

My TV mentor:
Schur: Lorne Michaels.
He is probably arguably the greatest TV producer of all time and I still carry pieces of wisdom around that he gave me. There were other people at SNL: Steve Higgins who is now the announcer of the Jimmy Fallon Show. He was the producer of the show at the time and he was a big supporter and influence on me. In the sitcom world, it's Greg Daniels, who hired me on The Office. Everything that we do at Parks and Rec essentially is something I learned from him at some level.

My method for breaking through writers' block:
Schur: There are two kinds of writers' block that happen. One is individual writers' block where you're writing a script by yourself and you're sitting at home and just staring at a blank final draft document, and I listen to music sometimes. My wife, [J.J. Philbin] who writes for New Girl, taught me her method of writing, which I've adopted: she picks this song that she thinks kind of fits the mood of the scene that she's writing or the script that she's writing and she plays just that song on endless repeat through her headphones.

If I could add any one writer to my staff, it would be:

Schur: Glen and Les Charles, who created Cheers. Most of the people that I'm thinking of are people who I would be terrible to add because they're showrunners with incredibly strong points of view and you can't just add someone like that and mix them into a staff. It wouldn't work for me to add David Simon or Vince Gilligan because what's the point of having those guys if they're not creating their own material. If David Foster Wallace were still alive, I would hire him as a consultant because he is my favorite writer of any kind. He had a very complicated relationship with television and it would be fun to watch him struggle with the grind of a TV season.

The show that I’m embarrassed to admit that I watch:
Schur: I don't believe in a guilty pleasure phenomenon. The one I get the most crap from my friends is Game of Thrones because it's nerdy. But I think it is also maybe the best drama on TV right now.
It's certainly in the top 5. So, I'm anything but embarrassed to say that I watch it all the time, avidly. And I read all the books too. You can put that in, if anyone is worried whether or not I am a true nerd, I read all the books.

The three things I need to write:
Schur: I don't have a desk. I write by sitting on the couch or a chair and then I have a lap desk and I put my laptop on the desk, and this lap desk that use is really old and rundown and beat up and the cushiony part of the lap desk is like torn off three times since I duct taped together in a very jerry-rigged kind of way; that's a real crutch of mine. I can't write without that specific lap desk.

If I could scrub anything off of my résumé, it would be?
Schur: When I was in seventh grade, we had an assignment in our English class to write something humorous and I loved Mad Magazine. Not fully understanding that it was wrong to this, but kind of understanding that, I basically plagiarized this entire MadMagazine article. My teacher thought it was great and two days later she realized I stole it from Mad Magazine and I got in big trouble. That was very shameful and horrifying and I stillthink about it all the time. That's the thing I would erase, but maybe it was good; it was a good learning experience for me that I realized how bad it is to steal jokes form people.



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Anthony Mackie, Aubrey Plaza eye 'Splinted Thing': Giovanni Ribisi, Philip Baker Hall also in talks for indie pic src

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