Ron Swanson was a fan favorite. But this actor didn't know the half of how he was helping people.

For seven seasons, Nick Offerman made millions of people laugh with his now iconic "Parks and Recreation" character Ron Swanson.

Fans of all stripes found an unexpected hero and a reliable chuckle in the waterfall of testosterone that was Swanson.


GIF from "Parks and Recreation" via Time magazine.

Since the series ended, Offerman has received an outpouring of appreciation. But it's messages like the ones he describes below that really remind him why he loves making people laugh.

GIF set by Time magazine. Watch the interview.

So is laughter really the best medicine?

Time magazine's Markham Heid interviewed Dr. Lee Burk who studies the health impacts of laughter. He notes the role of stress in all sorts of health problems and points out that "laughter appears to cause all the reciprocal, or opposite, effects of stress."

GIF from "Parks and Recreation."

Dr. Burk says laughter can enhance your blood flow, strengthen your immune system, and even improve the communication between your brain cells. The Mayo Clinic adds that a hearty giggle can ease pain, enhance mood, and even strengthen our connections to other people, which makes some researchers wonder whether laughter really is the best medicine.

Heid also spoke with Dr. Robert Provine, a neuroscientist who says, "One of the challenges of studying laughter is that there are so many things that trigger it" — things like being around people we're more likely to laugh with. "That doesn't mean the benefits aren't real," says Provine, "but it may not be accurate to credit laughter alone with all these superpowers."

OK, so we may still have a lot to learn about the science of laughter, but even Dr. Provine thinks we should keep it up:

"When we laugh, we're in a happy place. That's always a good thing."

Cheers to that, doc.

With that, here's one last tip: Nick Offerman may be this awesome and caring dude who doles out a "medicine" of sorts with comedy, but be careful taking health advice from Ron Swanson.

GIF from "Parks and Recreation" via Time magazine.

Jimmy Fallon #MyFamilyIsWeird.

It’s that time of year again, the holiday season is when we get the pleasure of spending way more time than we’re used to with our families. For those of us who’ve moved away from our immediate families, the holidays are a great time to reacquaint ourselves with old traditions and to realize that some of them may be a little strange.

Every family seems to have its own brand of weirdness. In fact, I wouldn’t trust anyone who says that their family is completely normal.

On November 18, “The Tonight Show” host Jimmy Fallon gave everyone a reason to celebrate their unique families by asking them to share their favorite stories under #MyFamilyIsWeird. The responses were everything from odd holiday traditions to family members that may have a screw (or two!) loose.

Here are 17 of the funniest responses.

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Images courtesy of AFutureSuperhero and Friends and Balance Dance Project
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The day was scorching hot, but the weather wasn’t going to stop a Star Wars Stormtrooper from handing out school supplies to a long line of eager children. “You guys don’t have anything illegal back there - any droids or anything?” the Stormtrooper asks, making sure he was safe from enemies before handing over a colorful backpack to a smiling boy.

The man inside the costume is Yuri Williams, founder of AFutureSuperhero And Friends, a Los Angeles nonprofit that uplifts and inspires marginalized people with small acts of kindness.

Yuri’s organization is one of four inaugural grant winners from the Upworthy Kindness Fund, a joint initiative between Upworthy and GoFundMe that celebrates kindness and everyday actions inspired by the best of humanity. This year, the Upworthy Kindness Fund is giving $100,000 to grassroots changemakers across the world.

To apply, campaign organizers simply tell Upworthy how their kindness project is making a difference. Between now and the end of 2021, each accepted individual or organization will receive $500 towards an existing GoFundMe and a shout-out on Upworthy.

Meet the first four winners:

1: Balance Dance Project: This studio aims to bring accessible dance to all in the Sacramento, CA area. Lead fundraiser Miranda Macias says many dancers spend hours a day at Balance practicing contemporary, lyrical, hip-hop, and ballet. Balance started a GoFundMe to raise money to cover tuition for dancers from low-income communities, buy dance team uniforms, and update its facility. The $500 contribution from the Kindness Fund nudged Balance closer to its $5,000 goal.

2: Citizens of the World Mar Vista Robotics Team: In Los Angeles, middle school teacher James Pike is introducing his students to the field of robotics via a Lego-building team dedicated to solving real-world problems.

James started a GoFundMe to crowdfund supplies for his students’ team ahead of the First Lego League, a school-against-school matchup that includes robotics competitions. The team, James explained, needed help to cover half the cost of the pricey $4,000 robotics kit. Thanks to help from the Upworthy Kindness Fund and the generosity of the Citizens of the World Middle School community, the team exceeded its initial fundraising goal.

Citizens of the World Mar Vista Robotics Team video update youtu.be

3: Black Fluidity Tattoo Club: Kiara Mills and Tann Parker want to fix a big problem in the tattoo industry: there are too few Black tattoo artists. To tackle the issue, the duo founded the Black Fluidity Tattoo Club to inspire and support Black tattooers. While the Brooklyn organization is open to any Black person, Kiara and Tann specifically want to encourage dark-skinned artists to train in an affirming space among people with similar identities.

To make room for newcomers, the club recently moved into a larger studio with a third station for apprentices or guest artists. Unlike a traditional fundraiser that supports the organization exclusively, Black Fluidity Tattoo Club will distribute proceeds from GoFundMe directly to emerging Black tattoo artists who are starting their own businesses. The small grants, supported in part with a $500 contribution from the Upworthy Kindness Fund, will go towards artists’ equipment, supplies, furnishings, and other start-up costs.

4: AFutureSuperhero And Friends’ “Hope For The Holidays”: Founder Yuri Williams is fundraising for a holiday trip to spread cheer to people in need across all fifty states.

Along with collaborator Rodney Smith Jr., Yuri will be handing out gifts to children, adults, and animals dressed as a Star Wars’ Stormtrooper, Spiderman, Deadpool, and other movie or comic book characters. Starting this month, the crew will be visiting children with disabilities or serious illnesses, bringing leashes and toys to animal shelters for people taking home a new pet, and spreading blessings to unhoused people—all while in superhero costume. This will be the third time Yuri and his nonprofit have taken this journey.

AFutureSuperhero started a GoFundMe in July to cover the cost of gifts as well as travel expenses like hotels and rental cars. To help the nonprofit reach its $15,000 goal, the Upworthy Kindness Fund contributed $500 towards this good cause.

Think you qualify for the fund? Tell us how you’re bringing kindness to your community. Grants will be awarded on a rolling basis from now through the end of 2021. For questions and more information, please check out our FAQ's and the Kindness Toolkit for resources on how to start your own kindness fundraiser.

Bono, Dave Grohl, Ariana Grande

Director Peter Jackson’s new 468-minute Beatles documentary “Get Back” is a landmark achievement. It’s an in-depth, warts-and-all glimpse into the creative process of four of the most important musicians and cultural figures of the past 100 years.

The crazy thing is that’s not even an overstatement. Watching the Beatles pull tunes from the ether and then work them into some of the most enduring songs in the history of popular music is revelatory.

Like when Paul McCartney strums his way into writing “Get Back.”

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