By Jillian Harrington, Contributing Writer
The Comedy Central hit series “Nathan for You” premiered its fourth season on Thursday night, airing for the first time in two years. Star host Nathan Fielder however, with his characteristically dry, awkward deadpan, created the sense that no time has passed.
“Nathan for You” is a parody on shows about business officials swooping in to make struggling businesses instantly successful. Fielder works with real people and real, local businesses, convincing them to go along with one of his absurd ideas. In past seasons, Fielder’s antics have including rebranding a real estate agent as a seller of only ghost-free homes and staging a viral video in which a pig rescues a drowning goat in order to promote a petting zoo. And despite the outlandishness of his plans, businesses agree to work with him, perhaps out of desperation or maybe because they find his social defects oddly endearing.
This episode was just as ridiculous as any previous, likely exciting loyal fans across the country. The plot centers around a deli on the outskirts of L.A., Joe K’s Deli, that is searching for media attention in the hopes of drawing in more customers. Nathan’s plan? To capitalize on the current trend of celebrities leaving generous tips for Twitter accounts to retweet and news outlets to cover. He holds auditions for a celebrity impersonator, and ends up with a Michael Richards who seems to act more like Richards’ “Seinfeld” character Kramer than Richards himself.
Fielder encounters multiple obstacles throughout the arc of the episode, but as always, mines them for ultimate comedic effect. He posts an ad looking for someone willing to change their name to Michael Richards for $1,000 in order to open a bank account under that name through which the tip can be left. Fielder then realizes that in the state of California, name changes must be announced in a newspaper for a month to be legal. Naturally, this leads him to hire a ghostwriter, spawning a paper no one will read, “The Diarrhea Times,” as he finagles this issue of legality.
But it doesn’t stop there. Rather, the new Michael Richards is revealed to be an ex-con convicted of armed robbery and Fielder, concerned he will run off with the money before the stunt can be performed, handcuffs himself to Richards. The operation complicating with each new development, the audience is treated to a trip full of surprises and many laughs.
In the end, they pull off the con – and to fanfare. The impersonator leaves a $10,000 tip and the staff react according to rehearsal. Other restaurant-goers are shocked and the story catches on, soon reaching the local news (as happens regularly within a “Nathan for You” episode). Reacting to the media success at the end of the episode, the owner of Joe K’s Deli tells Nathan “You came like an angel.” And though Fielder’s ideas are certainly unique, when they do succeed, it leaves the audience wondering if perhaps there is a method to his madness after all.
“Nathan For You” airs Thursdays at 10pm on Comedy Central.