Comedy Central has become a powerhouse in the last couple of years with hits like Inside Amy Schumer, Key and Peele, and Broad City. Last summer, the network quietly premiered the incredibly smart and insanely funny show, Nathan for You.
The premise of this reality show is simple: Nathan Fielder (who “graduated from one of Canada’s top business schools with really good grades”) provides advice to struggling small businesses.
Nathan (as a character of himself), his clients and their reactions, and the advice itself make this a comedic success. Small, lanky, and so awkward it makes you cringe, Nathan isn’t a big and loud reality show host like those in Extreme Home Makeover or Project Runway. Nathan balances his act between being a smart ass, incredibly awkward and uncomfortable, and a lonely/shy/looking-for-love kind of guy. Combine his deadpan personality with his bizarre business advice, and you can’t help but wonder how his clients are going to react. The advice he gives is extremely smart and well-thought-out but incredibly illogical.
In the show’s pilot, Nathan helps an empty frozen yogurt shop by creating a controversy to attract customers: the store will offer poop flavored frozen yogurt. Nathan has to convince the hesitant owner that his plan will work, then go to a flavor making company to produce the poop flavor, spread the word around Los Angeles about the store and its new flavor, and finally watch his work unfold. In the second half of the episode, he convinces a pizzeria to begin a delivery promotion in which customers will receive a free pizza if it isn’t delivered in eight minutes or less. The catch — and there’s always a catch with Nathan — is that the pizza is just a bit bigger than a quarter. The fun ensues when we watch Nathan argue with customers on their doorsteps, upset at the obvious gimmick.
The show struggled with ratings in the first season but quickly picked them up this summer season, which featured the episode that exposed the elusive “Dumb Starbucks” scheme that happened earlier this year. Nathan was behind the event, just trying to help a failing coffee shop attract customers by boosting its name recognition.
Here are my top five episodes and a brief synopsis. You can find the show on HuluPlus or by your own means, but just don’t watch it in Andrews, Leung, or the Hay, because you will laugh and laugh loudly.
Top 5 Episodes:
Nathan convinces a mechanic to set himself apart from the rest by proving to his customers that he is giving truthful quotes for the automotive repair shop. How will he prove his honesty? By giving quotes while attached to a lie detector. Nathan then convinces a Los Angeles realtor to rebrand herself as the Ghost Realtor by confirming to her potential buyers that the homes she is selling are completely ghost free. Watch the clip above to see what happens when a seance confirms that there is an entity — in this case, an incubus — in one of the rooms of this home. The show ends in an exorcism.
2. Gas Station/Caricature Artist
A gas station will sell gas for $1.75 after rebate. Nathan’s catch is that customers will have to go personally to submit their rebate. The rebate box is at the top of a mountain in California, and the fine print states that they will have to answer riddles and stay overnight. Watch to find out just how much people will do to get back less than $10.
3. Santa/Petting Zoo
Summer is the best time to buy Christmas decorations because they’re heavily discounted. Nathan takes the same approach by finding a man who dresses as Santa at malls during the holidays and convinces him to take pictures with children at malls for half of the price. However, Nathan has to deal with the fact that this Santa has a criminal record that would put him on the naughty list.
In the second half of the episode, Nathan orchestrated a pig saving a goat to help a failing petting zoo in California. The video, boasting 9 million views on YouTube, is insane. And the voice you hear is none other than Santa’s in the first half of this episode.
4. The Hunk
Nathan is a lonely guy, and we see why. He’s extremely socially awkward. So, he uses the advantage of having a production company and a decent budget to help him meet women: he produces a fake reality television show called The Hunk in which he will face his fears by having to date many women all at once.
5. Claw of Shame
In an event like none other on national television, Nathan undertakes the ultimate challenge with the highest risk: becoming a sex offender for life. In front of ten children and an LAPD officer, Nathan has to unpick the lock of his handcuffs while a robotic arm undoes his pants. If he doesn’t do it on time, he will be fully exposed and arrested for indecent exposure. You’ll have to watch to find out if he escapes The Claw of Shame.