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The Untold Truth Of Nathan Fielder

Nathan Fielder's ultra-deadpan delivery, awkward energy, and unscripted interactions with real people all make for comedy gold. Fielder is undoubtedly one of the funniest and most exciting voices in modern comedy — but he is also one of the most enigmatic. It can be difficult to tell where the comedic screen persona ends and where the real Nathan Fielder begins. Perhaps not since the days of Andy Kaufman has a comedian been so thoroughly committed to a comedic persona. Fielder rarely — if ever — breaks character, keeping the act up not just on his shows but also in various promos, interviews, and other miscellaneous press engagements.

With his new HBO Max series "The Rehearsal" making waves, there has never been a better time to dig into the untold truth of Nathan Fielder. Though he keeps his personal life secretive and is an all-around guarded individual, there are plenty of fascinating bits of information that hardcore fans of Fielder are sure to find interesting.

The prototype of Nathan for You

"The Rehearsal" brought a slew of new eyeballs onto Nathan Fielder's work, but before this new HBO Max series, Fielder was best known as the creator, director, and host of the Comedy Central series "Nathan for You." The show ran for four seasons — plus a feature-length documentary film that served as the series finale — and followed Fielder as he enacted wild plans under the guise of helping struggling small businesses.

For most viewers, "Nathan for You" was their introduction to Nathan Fielder, but it wasn't the first time he had played around with awkward, unscripted interactions on camera. While still living in his home country of Canada, Fielder was a part of the long-running comedy-variety series "This Hour Has 22 Minutes" produced by the CBC, Canada's public broadcast network.

On the show, Fielder had his own recurring segment called "Nathan on Your Side" where he conducted humorous interviews with various real people, including the head of the CBC himself, Hubert Lacroix, in one infamous segment. In an interview with National Post, Fielder discussed how his "Nathan on Your Side" segments led directly to "Nathan for You," saying the Comedy Central series "evolved pretty organically based on things I used to do in Canada on 'This Hour Has 22 Minutes.' In my mind, this is just an expansion." "This Hour Has 22 Minutes" has been on the air for over 30 years and is ongoing to this day, though Fielder left the show in 2009.

Laugh Sabbath

Before Nathan Fielder made it big as a solo performer, he first found his footing as a part of a comedy troupe known as Laugh Sabbath, which formed in 2006. Though the troupe was far from finding mainstream success, Laugh Sabbath did enjoy a level of public exposure. During an interview with Vice, fellow Laugh Sabbath member Chris Locke described how the troupe found absolutely no financial success, even after being called "the new 'Kids in the Hall.'" Locke and Fielder worked together frequently throughout Fielder's pre-Hollywood days, and the two remained close friends after Fielder found major success with "Nathan for You." When Fielder went on Locke's podcast "Utopia to Me?" in 2015, the two reminisced about their Laugh Sabbath days.

The Laugh Sabbath comedy troupe is still around and performs regularly with a weekly live show in Toronto, though the troupe now consists of new members. Fielder and Locke, amongst others, are showcased as successful alumni of the group. Though he had left the group many years earlier, Fielder made a "special video contribution" for the 10-year anniversary Laugh Sabbath showcase.

Nathan Fielder and Seth Rogen were classmates

Nathan Fielder and Seth Rogen have more in common than just being two funny men from Canada. Fielder and Rogen were classmates at Point Grey Secondary School – Entertainment Weekly even shared a photo of the pair as teenagers. Rogen's frequent creative partner, Evan Goldberg, was also a classmate of theirs. Rogen and Goldberg's production company Point Grey Pictures – the company behind shows like "Preacher" and "The Boys" and movies like "This is the End" and "The Disaster Artist" — was named after the Point Grey Secondary School.

Beyond being classmates, Fielder and Rogen even performed comedy together at school, as they were both on Point Grey's improv team. When asked about Fielder's style in those early days, Rogen told The New York Times, "He had this deadpan, dry delivery; he was very precise. He wouldn't say anything, then he'd come in at the end with a line that killed — a joke that changed the whole scene or escalated it."

Fielder, Rogen, and the rest of the team were good enough that they won best team in British Columbia at the Canadian Improv awards before moving on to Nationals and getting "crushed," per National Post.

He was edited out of the movie Neighbors

After performing improv comedy together at Point Grey Secondary School in Canada, Nathan Fielder and Seth Rogen each went their separate ways for a time and both managed to independently secure successful careers in comedy in the United States. After a few years, their paths crossed again. The first professional collaboration between Fielder and Rogen came when they acted alongside each other in a Season 6 episode of the FX series "The League" titled "When Rafi Met Randy." Rogen played the recurring character of Dirty Randy while Fielder played the smaller, one-off character of Evan.

However, their first professional collaboration was supposed to happen earlier that same year in the movie "Neighbors," in which Seth Rogen starred and produced alongside fellow Point Grey alum Evan Goldberg. Nathan Fielder was cast in a small role and even completed filming his scene but was edited out of the final movie entirely. In an interview with Mr. ShoBiz, Fielder described his scene as a flashback montage showing different fraternities, which had to be cut for time.

Fielder didn't have any hard feelings about being edited out, saying, "I felt kind of good about it because I felt like I wasn't that good in the scene." It might not have worked out with "Neighbors," but Rogen and Fielder did end up acting alongside each other in another movie the following year in "The Night Before." This time, Fielder's scene made the final cut.

Summit Ice

In Season 3 of his Comedy Central series "Nathan for You," Nathan Fielder announced the launch of his own apparel brand. The episode featured a subplot in which Fielder was shocked to learn that Taiga, the brand of his favorite jacket based out of his hometown — which he had worn in several prior episodes — had come out in support of a virulent holocaust denier. In response, Fielder decided to launch his own competing outerwear brand called Summit Ice which featured overt holocaust-awareness messaging and the slogan "Deny nothing." He explained the controversy with Taiga and the inception of his competing brand during an appearance on "Conan."

In the show, Fielder finds rejection after trying to get his Summit Ice brand into an apparel store while using excessive holocaust imagery, but the brand found considerably more success in real life. Summit Ice is a real apparel brand and it is still in operation several years later. Fielder can be seen modeling the clothing on the brand's website, which also features a Holocaust Facts page. The brand is a non-profit and donates 100% of its profits to the Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre. In 2017, two years after the brand first launched, Fielder donated $150,000 to the VHEC and held a Summit Ice pop-up store that encouraged owners of Taiga jackets to trade them in exchange for a free Summit Ice jacket and pin, per ET Canada.

He really did graduate from one of Canada's top business schools with good grades

Every episode of Nathan Fielder's hit Comedy Central series "Nathan for You" begins with a voice-over during the opening credits in which he says "My name is Nathan Fielder, and I graduated from one of Canada's top business schools with really good grades." Fans of the show will be happy to hear that this claim is 100% true. Fielder graduated from Canada's University of Victoria in 2005 with a Bachelor of Commerce degree and received strong grades, via The Globe and Mail.

After receiving his degree in commerce, Fielder spent eight months working at a brokerage firm, hated it, then went back to school, this time enrolling in a different college. His second education was at Humber College, where he graduated from their post-grad comedy program in 2006. Technically speaking, Humber was Fielder's third college education since his first enrollment was in the science program at the University of British Columbia, though he quickly dropped out, via National Post. Fielder said he was good at science and figured he would probably become a dentist but switched to a business degree after realizing he had no passion for the subject.

Nathan F. Joseph

The oldest and arguably weirdest piece of Nathan Fielder lore still floating around on the internet is a bizarre blog that he ran primarily throughout 2005 when Fielder was 22 years old and still in college. The complete title of the blog is "Nathan Joseph — The Works of a Pariah." Rather than going by the name Nathan Fielder on the blog, he went by the name Nathan F. Joseph. His real full name is Nathan Joseph Fielder.

The full archives of the blog are still currently available online. The Nathan Joseph blog mainly consists of awkward photos of Fielder accompanied by simple, occasionally humorous captions. The strangest posts on the blog chronicle the dramatic falling out between Nathan Joseph and a close friend, Jeff Cunningham, over a mutiny takeover of the blog. Nathan gave temporary control of the blog to Jeff, only for Jeff to sabotage the blog, attempting to take permanent ownership of it, introducing shady ads to the site, and banning/slandering a close friend of Nathan's.

In an entry titled "EMERGENCY POST," published after Nathan apparently regained control of the blog, he explained the situation, calling it "the greatest betrayal of this century" and writing, "Jeff Cunningham has stabbed me in the back." Knowing Fielder's later boundary-pushing work, it seems likely that this ordeal was orchestrated by Fielder himself.

The final post on the blog is a eulogy announcing the death of Nathan F. Joseph at the age of 22. This final post, written by a friend named Adam, says: "we were shooting a short movie about him when a tragic accident claimed his life." The post links to a short film titled "Nathan Joseph," but sadly the link no longer works.

His marriage and divorce

Nathan Fielder is extremely guarded about his personal life. The fact that so little is known about the real Nathan Fielder was a major point of contention in an unorthodox interview Fielder conducted with The A.V. Club where he spoke primarily to the journalist's mother — who hated "Nathan for You" — rather than the journalist himself.

This mother, Bonney Teti, confronted Fielder, saying, "I don't understand who Nathan is because I think I'm just seeing a character. And even when I tried to find out anything about you, Nathan, all I could find out was that your parents were social workers." After spotting him wearing a wedding ring in the "Nathan for You" episode "The Claw of Shame," Bonney asked Fielder if he was married, and the subject caught Fielder off guard and made him uncomfortable. After some pushing, Fielder eventually answered, saying "I was married for a brief time, but I'm no longer married." He went on to say that answering that question went against his instincts and that he would usually "save these conversations for people in my personal life."

Little is known about Fielder's marriage and subsequent divorce, though according to HollywoodMask, his ex-wife's name is Sarah Ziolkowska and she was a librarian. The subject of his divorce was brought up by Fielder in the first episode of his series "The Rehearsal." However, the exchange is cut comedically short when an old man interrupts their privacy, which Fielder revealed to have planned in advance.

He once worked as a radio sports commentator

Before he got his proper start in show business, and even before he began forming his comedic voice with the likes of Laugh Sabbath, Nathan Fielder's first official foray into media in any form came in the capacity of a sports commentator position at CiTR, the student radio station at the University of British Columbia, where Fielder was enrolled in at the time.

In an interview with Mr. Shobiz, aka Daryl Wener, Fielder revealed that Wener was actually the person who got him the radio job in the first place, and the two went way back with Wener even being Fielder's camp counselor from when he was a child. Fielder's job at CiTR was to provide color commentary for soccer games. By his own admission, he was bad at the position, and the job didn't last long. His memory was a bit foggy, but he's pretty sure he was fired after a single day.

Wild Ryce

One of the weirdest relics of Nathan Fielder's past before finding his footing in show business is a little project known as Wild Ryce. When Fielder was still in college at the age of 22, he was a part of a rap group named Wild Ryce, as discussed on the Nathan Joseph blog. The blog post even includes a link to a website featuring songs from the group but has since gone offline.

Wild Ryce released several singles, with such titles as "Hot Chicks," "Wednesday Night," and "7th Gen Cobbler." The efforts of Wild Ryce ultimately culminated in their first and only album, "Ryce Pudding." Though the band's official website is no longer in operation, the album can currently be found reuploaded on YouTube. The songs are less comedic than you might expect considering Fielder's involvement and are mostly played straight.

Fielder himself can be heard rapping on the track "Downtown Brown" and, although the song and overall band aren't 100% comedic, there are some humorous lyrics that foreshadow the eventual trajectory of Fielder's career, such as "I got every STD yet for some reason every girl still wants to sleep with me" and "feeling kind of sad that you were born without legs or arms or a face, you're a torso with pegs."

Side of Smooth

Wild Ryce wasn't Nathan Fielder's only musical endeavor before finding mainstream success with "Nathan for You." In contrast to Wild Ryce, which was played surprisingly straight for the most part, Side of Smooth is entirely comedic with intentionally bad beats and lyrics, awkward performances, and visual gags like Fielder being halfway out of frame while singing or having his roommate walk through the middle of a take.

Side of Smooth was a self-proclaimed "alternative jazz-pop duo." The other half of the duo alongside Fielder was Chris Locke, a close friend of Fielder's and a fellow member of the Laugh Sabbath comedy troupe. Side of Smooth songs were released directly to Nathan Fielder's personal YouTube channel. Their tracks include "Chow Down," in which the duo mumbles their lyrics too quietly to be heard while repeatedly saying the words "chow down," "danielleanika.wmv" in which the duo tries to win back their ex-girlfriends, and "Morning Walk," in which the duo confidently scat nonsense with terrible lip-syncing. The nonsense lyrics of "Morning Walk" can be found transcribed on Genius and a faithful cover can be found on Spotify.

He worked as a staff writer for other shows and made a documentary that is impossible to watch

According to Toronto Life, one of Fielder's earliest professional media jobs, right before landing his position on "This Hour Has 22 Minutes," was as a staff writer for "Canadian Idol," which is Canada's equivalent to "American Idol." This was far from his only staff writing job. Before landing his own Comedy Central series, "Nathan for You," Fielder previously wrote for the Comedy Central shows "Important Things with Demetri Martin" and "Jon Benjamin Has a Van." Fielder also appeared on camera in both shows, and Jon Benjamin appears in the first episode of "Nathan for You." Outlets like Cracked credit Jon Benjamin as playing a key role in "Nathan for You" coming into existence.

Another project written by Fielder in his pre-"Nathan for You Days" is a feature-length documentary titled "Love and Cameras in America," which he also hosted and directed. According to the Canadian news outlet The Coast, the documentary was an assignment given to Fielder by the producers of "This Hour Has 22 Minutes," who tasked him with covering the 2008 presidential election in the United States. This obscure documentary does not have a single rating on IMDb, and it doesn't even have a Rotten Tomatoes page. Though it did screen at a couple of film festivals, "Love and Cameras in America" never received a proper release and seems to be lost to time as it is impossible to watch today.

His short form videos

If "Nathan for You" was your first exposure to the comedy stylings of Nathan Fielder, then it would be easy to mistake him for a comedic voice that arrived fully formed. However, by looking back at Fielder's old short-form content, the development of his screen persona and the trajectory of his comedic voice can be traced.

Before getting his big break into the entertainment industry, Fielder first explored and experimented with his comedy style in short-form video content. Along with his Laugh Sabbath cohorts and other friends, Fielder made dozens and dozens of shorts working in the capacities of actor, writer, director, and editor. A number of these shorts are still available on Fielder's personal YouTube channel, such as "Job Hunt," "Scenarios," and the web series "These Moments Too," which parodies melodrama. Numerous other shorts have been taken down for "quality control" as discussed on fellow Laugh Sabbath member Chris Locke's podcast "Utopia to Me?"

Other shorts that Fielder was involved in can be found by scouring the internet, such as a short film he directed.

His love of Magic

One of the facets of entertainment that Nathan Fielder is most passionate about outside of the ones that routinely make their way into his work is the world of magic. In an interview with Vulture between Nathan Fielder and Kyle Mooney, Fielder revealed that he performed as a magician throughout his teenage years. He also professed his love for magic when speaking with Young Hollywood, saying that he became a member of his local magic circle and even got a job in a magic shop. He still loves magic to this day and regularly visits the Magic Castle in Los Angeles.

Fielder's love of magic can be seen playing an influence on his comedy work from time to time, such as in a YouTube video where he performs one-handed card shuffles while making progressively weirder faces. The most prominent example of his love for magic fusing with his unique sense of comedy can be found in "The Claw of Shame" episode of "Nathan for You" where he tasks himself with escaping from a pair of handcuffs before a robot can pull down his pants in front of an audience of children.