If you like your comedy drier than an old saltine in the sun, rejoice: after an almost two-year hiatus, Nathan For You returns for its long-awaited fourth season Thursday on Comedy Central.
For those not familiar, Nathan For You stars laconic, deadpan “business expert” Nathan Fielder, who uses his supposed expertise to assist small business owners in raising their profile and attracting more customers, or to assist regular people to overcome personal problems. The businesses and the business owners are real, and they really do (usually) follow Nathan’s advice.
And that’s where the funny is. Because although Nathan is not outwardly “funny” in any conventional sense — he almost never makes a joke of any kind — his ideas are positively outlandish, and when put into action with real customers, create some truly memorable moments.
These include: a frozen-yogurt shop adding a poop-flavored yogurt to its menu; telling guests at a “haunted house” that, while inside, they’ve contracted a fatal airborne disease (you know, to scare them); a weight-loss plan that involves taking extremely embarrassing photos of yourself (like posing nude in a giant hot-dog bun), to be revealed to your family or employer if you fall short of your weight goal; and, in the episode that actually made headlines, giving a coffee shop a boost by rebranding it as “Dumb Starbucks”: identical in every way to Starbucks, just with “Dumb” prefixed onto everything (Nathan reasons that he can infringe on Starbucks’ patents and trademarks this way because “it’s parody”).
But the one that really made me a permanent fan of this little, weird, hilarious show was “The Claw of Shame.”
Responding to criticism that he puts all these poor small-business owners up to these weird stunts while always staying clear of the line of fire himself, Fielder constructed a bizarre, elaborate challenge for himself: the would handcuff himself to a steel frame in a public park; if could not pick the lock and free himself in 90 seconds or less, a robotic claw would reach over and drop his pants, in front of an audience of children and a police officer, who would then arrest him for indecent exposure, which would make Fielder a registered sex offender for life.
I have never seen a more suspenseful (or hilarious) episode of TV.
If you have never seen this show, the good news is that season 4 premieres at 10pm ET Thursday on Comedy Central. The even better news is that Comedy Central has made all 24 of the previous episodes, plus last week’s Nathan For You: A Celebration special, which checks in with some of Nathan’s past clients, on-demand. So you can binge your heart out on Nathan’s ingeniously ill-conceived schemes.
New episodes of Nathan For You air at 10pm ET Thursdays on Comedy Central; all episodes are available on-demand.