When it comes to awkward comedians, no one wears the title better than Nathan Fielder, the Canadian host of Comedy Central’s explosively popular docu-series Nathan for You. It’s hard to describe what exactly he does on the show, which premiered its second season earlier this month, but once you watch for yourself, you won’t really care whether any of it is scripted or exaggerated for the camera.
Nathan For You follows Fielder as he gives struggling businesses unconventional strategies to become more successful. In season one, he encourages a gas station to offer gasoline at $1.75 per gallon, but the catch is customers have to get a rebate, which they must hike to the top of a mountain to obtain. He also tells a frozen yogurt shop owner to begin selling poo flavored ice cream to draw more attention to the store. Lots of people come in to try the new creation but, as to be expected, really dislike it. When a real estate agent is having trouble on the market, Nathan says she should call herself a Ghost Real Estate Agent and assure every potential buyer that the home is entity-free. When a medium claims to find a demonic presence in one of the residences, Nathan hires an exorcist to perform an exorcism in the master bedroom. What happens in all these installments will have you in stitches.
Born in Vancouver, Fielder has always been obsessed with comedy. He’d borrow his mother’s Dictaphone to record the stand-up on Seinfeld in order to memorize and transcribe every line, “I’d rewind it, listen to it, rewind it,” he said in an interview with the New York Times. “I was obsessive about comedy.”
Another awesome Canadian comedian named Seth Rogen took notice while the two were attending Point Grey Secondary School. They even worked together in an improv troupe.
“He had this deadpan, dry delivery; he was very precise,” Rogen said. “He wouldn’t say anything, then he’d come in at the end with a line that killed — a joke that changed the whole scene or escalated it.”
That same unusual, awkward delivery comes through on Nathan For You, which has a few episodes detailing his lifelong issues pursuing women. In season one, he starts a fake Bachelor-esque dating show to boost his confidence around the ladies. In season two, he “gets his heart broken” when he has an on-camera kiss with an actress and it turns out she didn’t like him in real life.
“How do you tell a girl you like her?” he went on to the Times about the complications of romance. “Or kiss her? Or anything without her being repulsed or saying no? In a lot of social situations [in my 20s], I understood what was going on but tried to remove myself from it, because it was too painful to exist in.”
With all the work he does for Nathan For You, he might not even have time for love anyway. Remember the Dumb Starbucks craze earlier this year? That was all Nathan’s brilliant idea, and Comedy Central will be airing an episode about it later this month.
Fielder was also behind the viral video of a pig saving a goat at a petting zoo. The clip quickly made the rounds on talk shows and social media earlier last year, but as we learn in season one of Nathan For You, the entire thing was staged in order to drive business to the zoo. With less than two full seasons under his belt, Nathan already knows how to make his weird ideas known to the world, and I expect to see a lot more of that as the series continues.
Though he’s growing in popularity, the innate awkwardness that makes him so relatable, lovable and genuine probably won’t fade. As he said to the Times earlier this summer, “I embraced that weird part of me. Like, right now, I don’t want there to be awkwardness between us, and I want you to be comfortable, but it takes effort for me to do that. In the show, I’ll just let uncomfortable moments happen.”
The uncomfortable moments are so natural, unplanned and bizarre that you can’t help wanting more of them no matter how much they make you cringe as you watch. Count me in as a loyal viewer of Nathan For You and imaginary BFF of this wonderfully eccentric, truly unique up-and-coming comedian.
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