With ubiquity comes scrutiny, and scrutiny is the bane of any prankster’s practice. But, since the launch of Comedy Central’s Nathan For You, Nathan Fielder has continued to troll the media and internet with unflinching abandon.
And he isn’t slowing down: last week, the debut episode of season three set its sights on mega-chain Best Buy, stopping just short of a class-action lawsuit. Tough stuff, but so goes the life of a professional instigator. While we’re waiting to see what other mischief he’ll make as the new season unfolds (catch Nathan For You tonight and every Thursday at 10/9c), we’ve broken down the the top eight times Nathan trolled the wider world and got away with it.
Look into My Eyes
In what appears to be a continuing quest to be banned from every social media outlet, Nathan posed in shades for a series of selfies on Instagram. Nothing subversive about that… unless you looked deeply into his eyes. The reflection on his glasses revealed a series of rather uncouth images (you know, the kind Playboy will no longer run). When each post was flagged and removed, Nathan simply took another that was even more absurd. Kooky and classic.
The Great Pork Punking
Before the show even aired, Nathan already had a viral sensation on his hands. The comedian managed to convince viewers and media elite all around the world that a staged clip from a forthcoming episode actually showed a pig rescuing a drowning goat. Harmless, perhaps, but Brian Williams and a host of other major newshounds got this one wrong, begging the question: Why did it take folks so long to realize it wasn’t real?
Say No to Drugs
In the shooting range of SMS, autocorrect gaffes take a backseat only to mistakenly sent messages. In 2013, Nathan encouraged his Twitter followers to send a fake text to their parents about buying drugs, and then immediately say it was a message meant for someone else. When his followers acquiesced and found themselves in hot water, Nathan set up a phone line that parents could call to hear the “truth” about the hoax. But, instead of absolving his fans, the answering machine message categorically denied any part in it.
In an obscure and largely inscrutable display of absurdity, Nathan asked his Twitter team to edit a 10-hour loop of Tom Delong’s verse on emo-edged aughts anthem “I Miss You” by Blink-182. And they took him up on it! The result is an endless echo chamber of avant garde emo orchestration destined for either the Museum of Modern Art or the biggest trash dump in existence (depending on your artistic acumen).
In one of the show’s most outlandish moments, Nathan used a psychic and exorcist to clear a house of some rather persistent spirits. But, that was hardly his first attempt to extend his comedic reach into the ether. Many years earlier, he launched a psychic site as a promotion for other endeavors. The site has since shuttered, but, like the spirits he chased, the remnants remain.
In an early episode, Nathan is schooled by Brian Wolfe, a no-nonsense Private Investigator who isn’t impressed by his antics. The unexpected result? Nathan inspired Cry Wolfe, an unlikely Discovery Channel spin-off starring the very dick he had just employed.
Nathan’s most impressive (and acclaimed) piece of performance art, Dumb Starbucks received a weekend’s worth of international attention before the LA health department stopped its unlicensed absurdity. Ostensibly a satiric take on coffee mega-giant Starbucks, Dumb Starbucks was staffed by a trio of former employees with offerings that were utterly indistinguishable. That didn’t stop it from getting international press and enough buzz to wrap a line around the venue.
Nate Daddy Will Make You Jump
Ok, so Nathan’s 2008 forays into hip-hop may not have gotten all that much attention, but that’s only because a career in TV was calling. Ummm, yeah. That’s the reason.