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  • Hello everyone.

  • Welcome to another Authors at Google talk.

  • Today we have Nick Offerman to talk about his book

  • "Paddle Your Own Canoe."

  • He's going to start off with a few songs,

  • and then we're going to discuss the book

  • and open it up to questions.

  • NICK OFFERMAN: Thank you.

  • Good afternoon, Google.

  • [MUSIC PLAYING]

  • NICK OFFERMAN: I'll go ahead and just whip out a couple songs

  • to get us in a mirthful mood, and then we'll

  • get into the religious material.

  • [LAUGHTER]

  • NICK OFFERMAN: My wife turned 50 a few years ago,

  • and she asked me for a rainbow for her birthday.

  • And I said, thank you honey.

  • That should be easy.

  • And I made a few calls.

  • NBC was no help whatsoever.

  • And then I realized I could make a rainbow out of art.

  • So this is the first song I wrote.

  • And my friend CornMo.com helped me set it to chords.

  • And he's much more entertaining than I am.

  • Please avail yourself of his talents.

  • "The Rainbow Song."

  • [MUSIC - NICK OFFERMAN, "THE RAINBOW SONG"]

  • NICK OFFERMAN: I posed for that font in 1996.

  • And I've been in the ocean since.

  • I have two big-screen TVs, both with shots

  • of all of you in case I need some perspective, apparently.

  • Looking at you this way is too daunting, so-- what else

  • do I do?

  • My friend Corn Mo, actually, suggested to me

  • that I write an album of songs, all with woodworking themes.

  • And we laughed, quaffed our seventh beer at McSorley's Pub.

  • And then I said, wait a second.

  • I like the sound of that.

  • And so this is the first song from that forthcoming album.

  • It's very much in progress, but this is just a taste.

  • Thank you to Kristie for loaning me her guitar.

  • Mine arrived broken.

  • This one is cute as shit.

  • [MUSIC_-_NICK_OFFERMAN]

  • NICK OFFERMAN: My final offering for today's lunchtime

  • is the final song and tip from my touring humorist

  • show, "American Ham."

  • It's also the title of my book, "Paddle Your Own Canoe."

  • If you can't find a piece of philosophy in this,

  • then I suggest you think again.

  • There's more.

  • [MUSIC_-_NICK_OFFERMAN]

  • INTERVIEWER: So welcome to Google.

  • Thanks for indulging us with song and a little bit of dance

  • as well.

  • NICK OFFERMAN: Thank you for having me, Google.

  • And I would like to also say thank you to the local chef

  • Bill Billenstein for filling my gullet with delicious meats

  • and starches.

  • INTERVIEWER: Glad you enjoyed it.

  • So I have actually a question.

  • The name of the book is "Paddle Your Own Canoe,"

  • but this is actually a canoe that's you've built yourself.

  • NICK OFFERMAN: It is, in fact.

  • Was that--

  • INTERVIEWER: That was a leading question, yeah.

  • NICK OFFERMAN: Grammatically speaking.

  • Would you like to hear a little bit about it?

  • INTERVIEWER: Please.

  • NICK OFFERMAN: Her name is Huckleberry.

  • My wife was doing a Broadway show some years ago,

  • and we don't live apart for more than two weeks.

  • That's a rule.

  • Actors that work a lot, which we're lucky enough

  • to be sometimes, often have their relationships

  • suffer because they go to play Frodo

  • Baggins in New Zealand for 18 months.

  • Not naming any names.

  • What I'm saying is I turned down the role of Frodo Baggins

  • to preserve my marriage.

  • I made the right decision.

  • I went with Megan to live in New York, which

  • I was very excited to do.

  • And I had been looking for an opportunity

  • to build my first canoe.

  • So I took a bag of tools with me,

  • and I built it in Red Hook, Brooklyn.

  • And it was one of the greatest things I've ever gotten to do.

  • I highly recommend it.

  • Although if you're going to do it in this neighborhood,

  • I'd go with an ocean kayak.

  • LA is not a great canoeing community.

  • I learned the hard way.

  • INTERVIEWER: Oh, I see.

  • Well, they're opening up the LA river, supposedly, for--

  • NICK OFFERMAN: They are, and it's neat.

  • There's a cool section to kayak on.

  • Some of it looks very much like where Danny Zuko raced Greased

  • Lightnin' down the sides of the LA river, which is badass.

  • INTERVIEWER: Awesome.

  • NICK OFFERMAN: Great seeing you guys.

  • INTERVIEWER: So you were going to read a couple

  • sections from your book.

  • We don't have a lot of time, so I figure, you can do that.

  • And then we can basically open up the questions

  • from the audience

  • NICK OFFERMAN: OK.

  • The paddle, as well, is my best paddle so far.

  • It's Alaskan yellow cedar, to answer your question,

  • with accents of cherry inlaid into the handle and blade tip.

  • And there's some pretty bitchin' carving

  • going on in that paddle.

  • Paddles are really fun to make, actually.

  • And if you want to get into woodworking,

  • I recommend a paddle because it only

  • takes one piece of wood and some hand tools.

  • It's a great introduction to hand tools.

  • Moving onto my prepared remarks, the first little piece

  • is a quick anecdote about a waiting room not far from here.

  • It's in Santa Monica.

  • And, gosh, I guess it was about 15 years ago.

  • I was just out of high school, and I was auditioning--

  • I was new in town-- when you're trying to get arrested here,

  • you try and get kick-ass jobs and auditions,

  • but you also go to commercial auditions.

  • You go to any bullshit that will pay you

  • $1, because you're broke.

  • So I was going to all these commercial auditions.

  • If you guys know anybody that are good with the internet

  • and stuff-- I've never seen this again,

  • but there's a commercial that I did for a steakhouse.

  • The fuck was it called?

  • It was in the southeast.

  • I don't remember the name of the steakhouse, and I won't.

  • So I did a couple commercial spots.

  • If you can find that, it would probably be funny to look at.

  • I escaped from jail.

  • And I was conflicted going to these auditions.

  • I'm a classically trained theater actor.

  • At the time, I was incredibly snotty about myself.

  • I performed works of theater, like, I

  • memorized two hours of literature

  • and then presented dramatically on stage.

  • And then you're sitting in a room

  • with a bunch of guys that are like, all right.

  • You chew a piece of gum and it tastes bad,

  • so you make a funny face.

  • And that's the job.

  • And you're just like-- Jesus Christ, this is demoralizing.

  • So I had been in town for about a

  • year when I found myself auditioning for a Budweiser

  • spot.

  • I hauled my ass out to Santa Monica.

  • Same old waiting room, full of maybe 60 guys.

  • It's a big square room, and each wall has a bench along it,

  • so it's a big square of guys.

  • Mostly beer-loving, baseball fan-looking guys, so fat guys.

  • The schtick was, you're in the bleachers,

  • holding at a baseball game.

  • And you hear the sound of a home run crack off the bat.

  • The crowd noise builds, and you're holding two huge beers.

  • You probably remember this commercial.

  • And you don't want to set either one down

  • because Budweiser is so delicious,

  • or because ballpark beers are so expensive.

  • So you want to track this whole thing until the home run hits

  • you on the forehead, of course.

  • And you make a hilarious face, and then you fall over.

  • So the salient question was, who makes the funny face

  • of getting hit on the head with a home run ball the best?

  • The Bud spot also contained the role

  • of a little old peanut vendor, so there

  • was a motley throng of hedonist looking guys,

  • the beer drinkers, together with a bunch

  • of assorted little old men.

  • I was looking around, silently calculating the carpenter wages

  • I was not earning, and I realized

  • that sitting next to me was Donald Gibb, the guy who

  • played Ogre in "Revenge of the Nerds."

  • I was the appropriate age for "Revenge of the Nerds"

  • to have been a hugely beloved movie for me.

  • My wife passed on that movie, by the way,

  • which, something we've had to work past.

  • But it was a seminal film.

  • I was the right audience for "Revenge of the Nerds."

  • A classic.

  • He was also in the movie "Blood Sport," for mercy's sake.

  • This guy-- I remember this guy, "Nerds!"

  • He was a hero to me and every other teenager in the '80s,

  • and now he's sitting next to me at this commercial audition?

  • I thought, good God.

  • You can be this minor movie star and do a ton of TV roles,

  • and then 10 years later you're sitting next to me

  • at a fucking Budweiser spot.

  • I was truly reeling.

  • So I got up and walked around the room to clear my head.

  • Across the room, I passed another guy

  • whose face rang a bell.

  • And I looked back, and I'll be goddamned

  • if it wasn't fucking Carmine from "Laverne and Shirley."

  • I surreptitiously looked at the head shot in his hand.

  • And at the bottom, sure enough, it read, Eddie "Carmine" Mecca.

  • I was dumbstruck, thinking, you've got to be kidding me.

  • It might as well have been John Schneider

  • from "The Dukes of Hazzard," or Burt Reynolds.

  • You can be fucking Carmine and now you're

  • at this Budweiser spot?

  • Just then, Carmine started up a conversation

  • with the little old man next to him.

  • "Hey, you're Joey such and such.

  • You were in "Guys and Dolls" and "Singing in the Rain."

  • Joey was apparently an old song and dance

  • man, with whom Carmine was very impressed.

  • In a grinning reply, the man said, "Ah, come on, Eddie.

  • You saw that shit?

  • Fuhgettaboutit."

  • Fate, that fickle bitch, was grabbing

  • me oh so firmly by the shorthairs

  • and sending me a very clear message.

  • I ran out to the payphone, called my commercial agent,

  • and said, thank you kindly but I'm not doing this anymore.

  • This is not the life for me.

  • There was no shame in these commercial auditions.

  • I just knew that I would rather be making a solid $20 an hour

  • than making zero money to sit and wait for a lottery

  • ticket that could pay off big.

  • I understood in that moment what Robert Mitchum

  • had meant when he said, "Acting is no job for a man."

  • Years later, I got to work with Eddie "Carmine"

  • Mecca on an episode of Children's Hospital.

  • And he was a dreamboat.

  • Between takes, he would sing standards and Sinatra tunes.

  • He was a total peach.

  • Now if I could only shake hands with the Ogre,

  • I could bring my Budweiser trauma to a neat resolution.

  • [APPLAUSE]

  • You're very generous.

  • Thank you.

  • I'll give you one more little piece, subtly entitled,

  • "Don't Be an Asshole," I find it consistently difficult

  • to get around the notion that we are all, in our very natures,

  • assholes.

  • I'm an asshole.

  • I'm afraid you are also.

  • That's why the conversation about good manners

  • even exists in the first place.

  • We're cognizant, curious beings, capable of philosophical

  • thought-- nuclear physics, repeating Nerf weaponry,

  • global consciousness, Glade air fresheners,

  • and sentient automobiles.

  • But we're assholes first.

  • But this is because before we can

  • begin to argue mortgage rates and tuition hikes,

  • before we can roll up our sleeves

  • and thread a profusion catheter into the cholesterol-choked

  • artery of today's society, we-- every one of us