What do you do when you graduate from one of Canada’s top business schools with really good grades? Comedian Nathan Fielder decided to use his vast skills and knowledge to help struggling small businesses in his hit Comedy Central series, “Nathan For You.” With untraditional, outrageous and questionable marketing schemes, Nathan brought attention — both positive and negative — to countless LA businesses. The series ended after four seasons in 2017, leaving fans missing Nathan’s awkward yet determined personality and his unique and hilarious approach to both business and comedy.
Ever since Fielder signed an overall deal with HBO in 2019, fans have been waiting to see what he will do next. The wait is finally over with the announcement of “The Rehearsal,” a six-episode comedy series which is directed, executive produced, written by and starring Nathan himself. Earlier in June, he tweeted a short trailer for the new series with the caption “very soon.” Lucky for us, “very soon” is only a couple weeks away, with July 15 announced as the release date. The trailer, which features Nathan watching through a wall of monitors as a woman interacts with a giggling robot baby, certainly leaves us with a lot of questions.
According to the official media release, “The Rehearsal” “explores the lengths one man will go to reduce the uncertainties of everyday life.” If the show is anything like “Nathan For You” we know those will be some extreme lengths. The synopsis continues by explaining that Nathan will help regular people prepare for huge life moments by simulating these personal situations using actors and a construction crew. Essentially, Nathan will allow people to “rehearse” before experiencing the real thing to avoid any life-altering mistakes.
While we countdown the days until July 15th, I have ranked my five favorite must-see “Nathan For You” episodes for fans old and new to revisit or have the pleasure of experiencing for the first time.
5. “The Richards Tip” (S4 E1)
In this episode, Nathan decides that the best way to bring business to a deli is to stage a celebrity leaving a very generous tip. He holds an audition for celebrity impersonators, and the deli’s owner settles on an impersonator of Seinfeld actor Michael Richards. As usual, things escalate quickly, and Nathan hires another man to legally change his name to Michael Richards in order to acquire a bank card with the celebrity’s name. When Nathan learns the newly named Michael Richards has a criminal record, Nathan spends the day handcuffed to him to make sure he doesn’t steal the tip money. This episode also establishes “The Diarrhea Times,” a newspaper created by Nathan’s go-to writer, Austin Bowers. This episode thrives from its peculiar and quirky characters and their unwavering willingness to go along with Nathan’s increasingly insane plan.
4. “The Anecdote” (S4 E4)
When invited to go on “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” Nathan decides that he needs an exciting anecdote to tell in spite of his unexciting life. His solution is to invent an elaborate story that involves what he determines are the three most common elements of a celebrity talk show story: a funny picture, a twist ending and getting pulled over by a cop at the most inconvenient time possible. Since Nathan doesn’t want to lie, so he stages the entire story with what may be his most perfectly orchestrated plan, involving an airport baggage mix up, an oversized suit and most unbelievably, a man’s living mother’s ashes. Nathan manages to fool Jimmy Kimmel and the world in a fashion that is so impressive that the first time I watched it, I felt compelled to immediately explain the entire plot to my mom and make her watch Nathan’s appearance on the talk show for herself.
3. “The Movement” (S3 E3)
In order to help a moving company save money, Nathan devises a plan to get free labor by turning carrying furniture and boxes into a workout routine. Of course, to accomplish this, Nathan needs a spokesperson to validate the results of the exercise. He hires fitness enthusiast Jack Garbarino to be the face of the workout, having Jack claim that he got his muscular body solely from carrying furniture and boxes. Nathan knows that any good success story like Jack has an autobiography, so he hires Austin Bowers to be a ghostwriter, marking Austin’s first appearance in the series. The most hilarious part of the episode are the clips from the many actual talk shows that Jack appeared on to advertise the workout. It’s always impossible for me to contain my laughter when the hosts ask Jack about his childhood friendship with Steve Jobs, which Austin may or may have invented as a creative liberty in the autobiography.
2. “Gas Station” (S1 E4)
When a gas station owner claims high gas prices and corporate competition are hurting business, Nathan convinces him to lower the prices to be the cheapest in the country. The only catch is that the cheap price is after a rebate, which can only be claimed if customers drop it off in person at the top of a mountain. To Nathan’s surprise, an eclectic group of customers, determined to get their rebate, hike to the top of the mountain with Nathan. After Nathan reveals that they must solve riddles and sleep on the mountain overnight, only three customers remain. They spend the night bonding, opening up about their personal struggles, playing spin the bottle and discussing the nutritional benefits of drinking urine. By the morning, the rebate is forgotten, and the real treasure was truly the friends made along the way. This manages to be an equally heartwarming and hilarious moment, making it arguably the most wholesome episode in the series.
1. “Shipping Logistics Company” (S4 E5)
There’s nothing musical about the shrill beeping of a fire alarm, right? Nathan would say otherwise. In my favorite episode of the series, Nathan helps a shipping logistics company avoid the high tariff on smoke detectors by rebranding them as musical instruments. After learning a smoke detector must be a socially accepted musical instrument, which means one must be featured in a hit song, Nathan forms a band with local musicians called “The Banzai Predicament” and assigns the most talented musician the smoke detector. This episode quickly goes off the rails when Nathan decides that the easiest way to make their song popular is through a scandal, so he frames Shell for stealing the song and using it in a pro-oil spill commercial. I love this episode because it is jam-packed with everything Nathan is best at: awkward moments, manipulation, bad music, and compiling the wackiest people willing to go along with his schemes.
Stream “Nathan For You” now on HBO Max and Hulu. “The Rehearsal” will be available on HBO and HBO Max on July 15.
By Emily Ince