Eagle-eyed viewers of Sacha Baron Cohen’s new Showtime series Who Is America? may have noticed a familiar name deep in the first episode’s closing credits. Nathan Fielder, the guerrilla satirist and tender boy from Comedy Central’s Nathan For You, was listed as a consulting producer. There’s something lovely about that, as Fielder’s brand of comedy is arguably a byproduct of Baron Cohen’s early ’00s HBO series Da Ali G Show. But Fielder has also improved upon Ali G’s template, weaving in a strain of deep, empathetic humanism on his show that Baron Cohen would be wise to draw upon.
The good news is that it appears he is. Fielder’s name was much more prominent in the credits of last night’s sophomore outing, with Fielder being listed as both a co-director and co-writer on the episode. It’s unclear what part of the episode he worked on, but our bets are on the Kingman, Arizona focus group that closed things out. In the sketch, Baron Cohen’s Dr. Nira Cain-N’Degeocello, a self-described “self-hating white male,” held a meeting informing the small, fiercely Republican community that its town would soon be home to a $385 million mosque funded by the Saudi government and the Clinton Foundation. The results were both hilarious (in a Candid Camera kind of way) and terrifying (things got real racist, real fast), and Fielder’s fingerprints can be seen on the format of the whole thing. The comedian is no stranger to organizing bogus focus groups, after all, or in seeing what absurdities people will believe if delivered by a person of seeming authority.
We could be proven wrong, of course, but it’s nice to know Fielder is playing a prominent role on the series in whatever regard. His lighter, subtler touch is something from which the aggressive, profane Baron Cohen could benefit. That said, it takes a mind as twisted as Baron Cohen’s to get a Republican state representative from Georgia to scream “nigger” and run around pantsless during an anti-terrorism “training video,” which also happened on last night’s episode. See that segment, which in a normal world would destroy Jason Spencer’s political career, below.