Dir. by Jordan Vogt-Roberts - 1 hr. 18 min.
by Clayton Hollifield
I'm never sure if it's a good idea to write up a stand-up special that I've watched. And, since there's no oversight here (or audience, for that matter), there's not really anyone I can consult on the matter. I think that a fair rule would be that if a stand-up special approaches movie-length (meaning, closer to 90 minutes than 60), it's fair game. But then again, what is there really to say about one of these things? Netflix is littered with stand-up specials, and they're all pretty much the same deal: some framing device, a stand-up concert, some giggles, and then you're done. "Nick Offerman: American Ham" is not wildly different from that, but the minor divergences are welcome.
This special is framed as Nick Offerman's ten pieces of advice for life, which actually comes off pretty well. I enjoy stand-up as much as anyone, but just starting from a different point than a standard "is that weird?" is so, so useful. I never really got the impression that Offerman was a traditional "stand-up" either, but then again, what the hell is the definition of a "one-man show?" I don't have answers for that. What I can tell you is that Offerman is pretty much Ron Swanson (with an added occasional stoner giggle that keeps popping up), but that doesn't mean that the advice isn't considered, or useful, or funny.
There are also a couple of songs that were part of the performance, but apparently got shut down over a misunderstanding over what exactly constitutes satire legally. Instead, there are exchanges between Offerman (in his workshop) and a lawyer (Marc Evan Jackson) that are likely way, way funnier than the actual songs in question. I haven't yet gone to YouTube to see what I've missed out on (as winkingly suggested), but considering how funny the workshop segments are, I don't really feel like I've missed out on anything important.
Obviously, how much you enjoy "American Ham" is going to depend heavily on how much you enjoy Offerman (or Ron Swanson), but if you're down for 80 minutes of life advice from Offerman, you'll enjoy this special. It's not Earth-shatteringly great or anything, but it's a good time when you've burned through your DVR backlog and have to rely on Netflix to tide you over because it's just too early to go to bed yet, and there aren't any games on or anything. And maybe it's a minor thing, but after decades of combative husband/wife relationships in comedy, it's kind of (no, it's totally) heart-warming to see someone who can't hide that's he's still head-over-heels in love with his wife. Not only is it nice to see, it's a different dynamic and lends to different jokes than the kind you might be used to. So, a funny 80 minutes that might include something to, as he puts it, "increase the deliciousness of your life," and a funny approach to gratitude? You might not even notice the bacon jokes!
3.5 / 5 - Streaming