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'Nathan for You' ends strong: My ranking of season 2's best pranks

Season 2 | Episode 8 | “Toy Company; Movie Theater ” | Aired Aug 19, 2014

I can hardly believe that after only eight episodes, the second season is already over. We know that a third season will be coming, but the wait will be hard. However, it’s better to go out on top, and with very few exceptions, Nathan for You remained strong from beginning to end this season—this episode included.


Nathan consults with toy maker Mark to help him market his toy, called a Doink-It, which is essentially a sphere made out of tiny suction cups. It’s a pretty useless toy. Nathan, serious as he ever is, convinces Mark that he doesn’t need to sell a toy—he needs to sell an identity. To his credit, that is how most modern advertising works. The identity for the Doink-It? It’s the only way “to prove you’re not a baby.” And kids haaaaaate being called babies, which Nathan is about to prove, by holding a focus group with three children whose guardians for some reason signed releases for them to be on this show.

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What do the kids think of the toy?

“Duuuuuuuuumb,” says one boy, rolling his eyes.

Nathan, always having a backup plan, supposedly gets a call from the President, implying that the kids must be babies if they don’t like the toy. The two boys in the room fall victim to the ploy, both taking a Doink-It and eagerly showing they are not babies. The girl in the room, however, is not having it.

“What do you think of kids that don’t have a Doink-It?” Nathan asks.

“Sad. Weird.”

Little girl is trying so hard to stand her ground, but Nathan keeps pressing her, and wow, I get really uncomfortable when kids are made to feel bad on purpose for television! “Are you a baby?” he asks her. Ugh, the look on her face is really uncomfortable. I’m not saying Nathan is an evil person for doing this, but he does have guts for doing so.


“No,” the little girls answers, and cautiously grabs a Doink-It. Phew! No more uncomfortable children. Until …

Nathan decides try selling the Doink-It at a local toy store, asking them to set up a Doink-It display if he gives them a free Santa for the holidays. (You may remember the Santa from season 1.) Santa, after asking the kids what they want, tells them that they are babies if they don’t get the Doink-It, and I was gripping the couch with secondhand cringing. The children begrudgingly ask their parents to get them the toy; I’m going to tell myself that this was cleverly edited to make the children seem really upset and they really weren’t hurt. When did I become such a softie? Despite the cringing, this scene was classic Nathan Fielder. Can Nathan for You already have classic bits? I say so.

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Mark is still not convinced. “You’re not good at your job,” he tells Nathan. Oh, crap. We know by now how much criticism hurts Nathan’s fragile, fragile ego, and after his track record from the last few episodes, he has not been feeling great about himself. But Nathan takes the high road and leaves Mark, but not without imparting a gift: a bobblehead recreation of Mark that says, “I’m Marky. I’m an idiot businessman with a small dick. I have no idea how much I hurt other people’s feelings. I’m the laughingstock of my industry.”

Evil, revenge-seeking Nathan utters, “When I play with toys, I ALWAYS win.”

Nathan reminds us that Brian Wolf, the private investigator from season 1 and the one who called him the “wizard of loneliness” and a “goober,” got his own reality show after appearing on Nathan’s show. (Is that true?) Nathan decides that he wants to pitch a reality show from another former guest: Simon, the security guard from the clothing store, whose discerning personality trait is that he enjoys large-breasted women. But first, Nathan has a movie theater to help.

That theater is Whittier Village Cinemas, a small theater struggling to make a profit. Most of the profit comes from concessions, and unfortunately, many patrons share portions. “What if you could double your profits?” Nathan pitches. The concept: no sharing allowed. But how will this be enforced? We know by now that Nathan is a stickler for rules.

So much so that he enters the movie theater with a headlight to chastise a couple for sharing. They deny it, but Nathan demands to smell the man’s fingers, which, sure enough smell like popcorn. “That’s premeditated sharing!” Nathan declares.

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There’s another way to enforce the no-sharing rule: The cinema has security cameras aimed at the audience, originally intended to ensure there is no one masturbating in the theater. To ensure the camera is at the right angle, Nathan has the theater owner sit in the middle of the theater and simulate masturbating, all the while telling Nathan some fun facts about Whittier. It’s juvenile, and I saw this joke coming a mile away, but it doesn’t prevent it from being hilarious—of course, all due to Nathan’s deadpan stare.

Now that he’s failed to help two businesses in the same week, Nathan’s self-esteem is in a precarious state. Everything is riding on Simon’s reality show.

The show, of course, is ridiculous. Much in the same vein as Nathan’s (award-winning) film The Web, the joke is hammered home many times. Simon explains his waking-up ritual, which includes drinking a glass of water, taking a shower and “putting his shirt on after his pants, because it’s easier to tuck in his shirt after he has is pants on.” This goes on for an absurdly long time.

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Finally, we see Simon going to a job at a jewelry store, where a woman with large breasts enters the store. “It’s like time stands still,” explains Simon, while fixated on the woman.

The producer they are pitching to is, understandably, baffled. To his credit, he is positive and tells them the pilot is “well-shot and put together … There’s a good hook … and it’s humanizing to men who love big breasts … but I’m going to have to pass.” At this point I am genuinely concerned about how Nathan is going to react to a third rejection. This finale could end with Nathan hitting rock-bottom, committing a crime or experiencing a nervous breakdown.

However, Nathan, as he always does, eventually finds the light at the end of the tunnel. Simon is positive about the pilot, and earnestly tells Nathan he thinks someone will like it, they just haven’t found the right person yet. “Hey, wanna come over and see my Elvis costume?” he asked Nathan. As Nathan slouches on the couch watching Simon shake his hips in the costume, he muses, “Simon showed perseverance, and he would be fine, as fine as he is dancing with his Elvis costume.” Words to live by.

In honor of the season finale, I’ve compiled a ranking of all of Nathan’s business proposals, from least favorite to favorite. Do you agree with this list?

18. The Dating Service: I already stated that this was Nathan’s weakest idea, as I wasn’t a fan of using violence to coerce women.
17. The Party Planner: Where Nathan developed an app that would send party invites to undesirable attendees’ spam folder.
16. The Movie Theater: As seen in this finale episode.
15. Taxi Cab: In which Nathan attempted to have a woman give birth in a taxi.
14. Maid Service: In which 40 maids cleaned a house in eight minutes. It didn’t really succeed.
13. Pet Store: Although the time with his pet fly was amusing, this just resulted in a really heavy headstone.
12. Simon Sees: (This episode.)
11. Weight Loss Motivation: Nathan posing as human hot dog meat always wins.
10. Focus Group: Nathan tried to be cooler. I repeat, “tried.”
9. Toy Company: (This episode.)
8. Car Wash: I mostly enjoyed all the exotic birds he placed in the tree.
7. Liquor Store: “School sucks and the Internet is cool.” Obviously.
6. Exterminator: Nathan disguises a mattress as a ceremonial Chinese dragon.
5. Mechanic: Nathan has a run-in with some faulty lie-detector tests.
4. Hot Dog Stand: Even though Pink’s didn’t really need any help, the revenge plan he hatched on a customer was brilliant.
3. Ghost Realtor: Nathan’s hemorrhoids, among other things, are the work of a demon.
2. Dumb Starbucks: the idea was brilliant, and his reaction to the press was truly genuine. And who can forget his short stint as a parody song artist?

Finally,
1. Souvenir Shop/Film Festival: “I’m a hacker, not a slacker!” Nathan creates a fake film in a souvenir shop, hires a Johnny Depp impersonator and then is forced to created a bogus film festival. The plan keeps getting more and more complicated, yet Nathan does everything in his power to keep his promise that the souvenir shop customers were starring in a legitimate movie. This is everything I love about Nathan Fielder’s unique style of humor.

Nathan for You on Comedy Central

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