Alright. Welcome, thank you so much for coming!
So, it took a lot of work to get this play off the ground
I don't want to say too much
cause I don't want to spoil anything
but all I say is I hope you enjoy this
as much as we enjoyed making it.
If a basic purpose of art is to illuminate human nature
then I think comedy centrals "Nathan for you" deserves a spot
in the conversation about the best tv shows of this era
A while ago I was working with a jungle child, his name was Dendi
he was a great inspiration for me
And unfortunately, tragically he died when baboons kidnapped and ate him
Not only is it so funny that I cry laughing at almost every episode
But it reveals small truths about human nature in a way that's unique I think for television
In this episode for example Nathan on his neverending quest to help small businesses
meets a bar owner who says her bottom line was cut in half by laws that prohibit smoking indoors
So to fix this Nathan finds a legal loophole
that says people can smoke inside if the smoking is part of a theatrical production
So he tells smokers to come back then invites a couple
of theater goers to sit in a special audience section where they think they're watching a legitimate play
It's so funny cause it's like so nothing in a way but incredibly profound
There are three cathegories of people involved in this scheme
and they each know different things
well four categories if you're counting Nathan, but we'll get to him later
The first is Ellen the bar owner
she thinks Nathan is a business consultant with a reality tv show
who is genuinly trying to help her by exploiting a loop hole in the law
Then there are the bar's patrons who think they found the place to smoke inside without reproach
unlike Ellen, the patrons don't know about the theatrical framing
presumibly thinking that the audience section is just another sitting area in the bar
Finally there are the theater goers who don't know about the business consultation
and genuinely think they're seeing an experimental production
Now, there are a lot of ways that you can read the show;
Full Fat Videos made an excellent piece recently on how "Nathan for you" satirises the phenomenon of fake news.
But one of the other key things I think Nathan is interested in here
is showing us how people really act when normal expectations are met with absurd circumstances.
As John Teti of the A.V. Club once said,
fielder "uses the rank artificiality of TV and TV-making to extract this surprising authenticity out of people.
Everybody involved in this set up knows that they're being filmed
they just don't know what they're being filmed for
or rather what they think they're being filmed for is wrong
and the dramatic irony opened up by the difference between what they think and what we know
lets a realness in their character slip through -
a realness they don't even know they're offering.
The couple stands out to me because
it tells a story that maybe they're in a new relationship.
And I think that curiosity is what makes me want to continue to watch.
Do you think this has theatrical merit?
Yeah, you know this is slice of life theater and
for that aspect I think it's important.
For Nathan one level of artificiality is never enough
spurred on by the real praise of his fake play. He transcribes the real actions of the patrons turns it into a real script
and hires real actors to play all the parts. Then he invites a real audience to watch a real play which is all based on fakeness.
This time, however, all the people involved are aligned.
The actors think they're participating in a play and they are.
The audience thinks they are watching a play, and they are
And Ellen, well, who the hell knows what Ellen thinks at this point.
The only two categories of people who really know better
are Nathan and us.
But the original pretense of the episode, helping Ellen with her business problem
is gone. To have the external omniscient perspective
you actually need to know about the show "Nathan for you"and what it's all about.
In fact, that's what this moment is effectively doing:
it's demonstrating the premise of the show itself.
I hope you enjoyed this play as much as we enjoyed making it.
One aspect of this episode and really a theme of the whole series is Nathan's desperate attempts to connect with other people.
Most of the time we're encouraged to believe that Nathan is making people uncomfortable for our benefit-
so that he can reveal them to us.
I mean wouldn't want to be a third wheel, you know-
Well, that's what it would be, so
But the show also encourages us to question that idea, sometimes intensely.
Look into my eyes, and say 'I love you'
I love you.
I love you.
I love you.
I love you.
I love you.
I love you.
You have tears in you eyes though.
What you begin to realize is that no one, not even the tv audience, can have a more omniscient perspective
than Nathan's own. That there's only ever one man behind the curtain.
Though the show does make a pretty strong argument
that he too is unsure of whether there's anything at the core of all this layers of artifice.
It's kinda weird having cameras around right?
We can turn them off if you want.
Do you wanna? I feel like...Does that defeat the purpose?
I don't know.
What's the purpose?
Nathan For You is hands-down one of the funniest shows in TV history.
I'm obviously a huge fan.
And, I've seen some
major results physically:
but, there's more to this show than just comedy.
Nathan uses comedy and the construct of television
to let us see into people's souls.
These little interactions, these moments of
awkwardness and sincerity, what people are willing to say for
success, what people are willing to go along with
to preserve the status quo--these are the building blocks
of culture. (Nathan) "In the later chapters
it actually says you spend a lot of time
volunteering with 'jungle children'? I-I don't know what that is
but you might wanna bring it up because audiences
love someone who gives back and is charitable." "Okay."
"I'll be able to--I'll tell them, you know, what they wanna hear."
It can be shocking to see people like this, and part of the reason
we laugh is to express this shock-
this embarrassment at seeing someone so nakedly.
But I think this laughter is recognition too.
In the end, these people are really no
different than us. Who knows how we would react
if we found ourselves in one of Nathan's
schemes without knowing it. (Static)
"I worked with a child named Dendi who
was a very, uh, a ch--it was an inspiration. And just liked
to help and work with people--with kids.
And at that time, uh, you know, tragically,
uh, he was, uh kidnapped and he was eaten
by baboons at that time.
Hey everybody, thank you so much for watching! This one was a
personal favorite of mine, I absolutely
love this show and have for a long time, so thank you for watching.
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