Nathan For You
I feel like I should’ve waited and posted this on April 1st considering what I’m about to recommend, but I am trying to stick to the regular schedule especially now that I have more time on my hands and I could easily lose myself in all this freedom. If you’re looking for something easy to watch, bingeable but in short doses so you can watch it over a meal, something to cheer you up and make you laugh during this time, look no further.
Nathan For You is one of those shows I feel shouldn’t blow up because its main thing is being so low-scale. Part of me is glad it didn’t, but the other part is constantly screaming “Nathan deserves more recognition he is a genius!!!” whenever I watch it.
The show aired on Comedy Central from 2013 to 2017 and is the creation of, you guessed it, Nathan Fielder, who graduated business school with really good grades. It centers around Nathan as he helps failing businesses get a glow-up (but do they really?), and it’s shot as a docu-reality show. Filming-wise I’d say it’s up there with The Office, Parks and Rec and that kind of show, so it’s already got something going for it.
The first episode is a journey, and so is the rest of the series. From the opening and all the way to the credits, you are presented with this absurd world, the real world, which is framed as supposedly to be taken seriously, but you can’t really. Nathan for You’s humor comes from that ridiculous seriousness about the events presented, and it’s so genius in its approach it’ll have you laughing out loud.
Nathan is an awkward guy with incredible, far-fetching ideas. Example: “Nathan tries to rebrand a realtor as the ghost realtor, who guarantees that all of the properties that she sells are ghost-free.” (Season 2 Episode 1, Wikipedia) His awkwardness around every single person he helps only contributes to the humor further, especially as he puts everyone in extremely weird positions with some of the things he says or does. The comedy is never in your face, never seems forced (because it’s not scripted!), and gives you some of the best laughs you’ll ever have, if only you can get over the cringe factor. Things get so awkward sometimes, I had to physically turn away because I couldn’t handle it. I say this in a good way.
Part of the reason why this show amazed me is, if you do no research beforehand, you’d think it’s staged. It can’t be real, right? It’s absurd. These people were cast and given a script for sure. Nope. There is a very thorough research process beforehand on Nathan’s part, but all those struggling businesses are legit, all of Nathan’s stunts are legit, Nathan is legit, for the most part.
His appearance on Jimmy Kimmel telling an absurd story about mistaken suitcases (Season 4 Episode 4) was surely just in the show, right? Nope. It’s out there on YouTube, he really did it, in character, and no one was the wiser.
Dumb Starbucks (Season 2 Episode 5) – self explanatory – made the news, fitness guru Jack Garbarino was also on the news, spreading his incredible story of losing weight just by moving furniture to everyone with a TV. The Jack Garbarino book is also legit, and it even made Amazon’s Best Seller’s List at one point. You might also remember a viral video of a pig saving a goat who’d fallen into the water at a petting zoo, right? That was all Nathan, folks.
The realness of this show is the real laugh, and Nathan masterfully coaxes the best humor out of any situation, always with a deadpan expression. He’s a genius conversationalist and comedian, and his quick thinking creates hilarious situations with the people he interacts with.
The episodes are up on YouTube, although not complete. You can see each business as a separate clip, but I’d suggest finding the episodes in full (an episode would tackle several projects) as the transitions are iconic as well.
Honestly, even after learning of the way the show is made, I still found myself dumbfounded that these situations really happened with no script whatsoever. It was a joy to watch and a pity to finish, but if I ever need to, I can always rewatch it. And if I want something different, I can always watch Brian Wolfe’s show, Cry Wolfe, which he got by appearing as a P.I in Nathan For You. Nathan made him. You can’t change my mind.
So, if you have 20 minutes to spare, please watch any episode of Nathan For You and get that daily dose of laughter. And then continue the show because it’s so cool. You won’t regret it.
As always, thank you for reading, and see you next week!