Last month, Nathan Fielder appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live to promote the new season of Nathan for You, and he told Kimmel a pretty bizarre story involving an out-of-town wedding, someone else’s luggage, an oversized suit, and getting pulled over by a cop. It was a weird but funny anecdote – nothing too out of the ordinary for a late night interview – but if you watched last night’s episode of Nathan for You (and if you haven’t, do yourself a favor and watch the full thing over on the Comedy Central website before reading any further), you know that there’s a lot more to that Kimmel interview than just a funny story.
Titled “The Anecdote,” the episode starts with Fielder worried about his upcoming Kimmel appearance since he’s always found talk show interviews awkward. “You see, celebrities normally use talk shows to give fans a window into their exciting lives,” Fielder says in the episode. “But unlike Kevin Hart, I haven’t met the president. My life just isn’t that interesting. When I’m not at work I mostly just spend time with my cats or try to perfect a cooking skill like boiling eggs.” To solve the problem, Fielder studies hours of late night interview clips, figures out the formula for the perfect anecdote, then – making this a truly memorable Nathan for You episode – apparently spends over $350,000 of his show’s budget to painstakingly turn his carefully constructed anecdote into a reality so that when he does tell Kimmel the story, he’s telling Kimmel a true story.
“The Anecdote” is a great episode of television for a few reasons. One, God bless Comedy Central for giving Fielder over $350,000 essentially to tell a 9-minute story on another network’s late night show. Two, “The Anecdote” highlights just how stale, rehearsed, and scripted the majority of late night interviews feel these days – a problem compounded by the overabundance of talk shows currently on TV and streaming networks – by pushing their pre-planned nature to its absolute extreme to hilarious results. And finally, Nathan for You fans have learned over the years that some of Fielder’s best stunts tend to hide in plain sight, and the Jimmy Kimmel Live interview is proof that Fielder and his team know how to always stay one step ahead of even the most vigilant fans. At the time, it was impossible to know that Fielder’s Kimmel appearance was such an elaborately set up and expensive stunt, and best of all, Fielder went to great lengths to make sure that the story he told was, in fact, completely true. The visual of Fielder awkwardly hiding behind a tree while attending two strangers’ wedding at the end of the episode was also a nice bonus:
When Fielder finished telling Kimmel his story last month, Kimmel responded by telling him, “You are out of your goddamn mind.” Nathan for You continues to be out of its goddamn mind this season with episodes like “The Anecdote,” and for that, we are all extremely lucky.