Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Nathan For You’s star confronts the A.V. Club mom who scorned him

Nathan Fielder (Photo: Peter Yang/Comedy Central)
Nathan Fielder (Photo: Peter Yang/Comedy Central)

The third season of Nathan For You premieres on Comedy Central tonight as star Nathan Fielder returns to “help” struggling businesses with elaborate money-making schemes that double as experiments in human nature. The comedian responsible for brilliant hoaxes like Dumb Starbucks and the East Los Angeles International Film Festival doesn’t speak much in public about his creative process, which makes sense given that his show depends on participants not knowing who he is or what he does. Earlier this month, I’d arranged an interview to talk with Fielder about Nathan For You, but I wasn’t sure it would actually happen. So when I received a call from one of Fielder’s publicists a few days ago, I figured the interview was off.


Instead, “Nathan had a different idea for the interview we wanted to run by you,” the publicist said. Fielder had heard a Nathan For You review last year on an episode of Mom On Pop, a podcast where I talk about pop culture with my mom, Bonney Teti. Mom did not care for Fielder’s show, nor for Fielder himself, which she made abundantly clear. So rather than a typical interview, Fielder wanted me to moderate a conversation between him and my mom. His goal: convince Mom to like him.

As you’ll see, I didn’t have to do much moderation at all as Fielder and Mom broke down each other’s comedic tastes, reflected on painful life experiences, and made arrangements to sit down for breakfast sometime soon. Fielder, a Vancouver native, spoke with us on October 12, which happened to be Canadian Thanksgiving.

Bonney Teti: So should I say “Happy Thanksgiving” to you?

Nathan Fielder: Thank you so much! How did you know? Do you have a Canadian connection?

BT: I have been researching you for three days now.

NF: [Laughs.] Really! Oh, my God. Okay. Okay.

John Teti: Okay, before we get into it, let me set the stage a little bit. Last year, Mom and I discussed Nathan For You on our podcast, Mom On Pop, because I’m such a big fan of the show—but Mom was not. At the time, she said, “I don’t think there’s one funny thing on this show,” “I hated this show,” and “I don’t even like him.” She also questioned the ingenuity of poo-flavored frozen yogurt [a publicity scheme featured in the Nathan series premiere]. Mom, I know over the weekend you watched some more Nathan For You episodes, so maybe you could say what you think of Nathan For You and Nathan now.


BT: [Long pause.] Well, this is what I don’t understand. I don’t understand who Nathan is. I just don’t understand if I’m watching—you know, television is very serious to me. And 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.

NF: Mm-hmm.

BT: And also, this is the other thing I found out. When you showed how you had your handcuffs on—and how you took them off—in the episode where you tried to get out of handcuffs so your pants wouldn’t be pulled down by a robot, you had a wedding ring on. Are you married?


NF: Actually… [Laughs.] Okay. You want to get into—you’re interested in me and my personal life?

BT: No, I’m not. I’m not really interested, but I want to know—

JT: It sounds like you’re a little interested, Ma.

BT: No, I’m not looking to pry, but I’m trying to decide if “Nathan” who I see in the show is just Nathan. Is that who you really are?


NF: What you see of me in the show is kind of—there’s some of me in there, but I’m also exaggerating parts of myself that I think would—I think I’m taking a lot of vulnerabilities and insecurities that I had when I was younger, and I’m exaggerating them for the sake of comedy.

BT: Okay. But you know what I never see is your vulnerability. I feel very uncomfortable [watching the show].


NF: What would you like to see from me, Bonney?

BT: I would like to either know that we, as the watchers, are in on the joke with you. Because I feel like you want me to be part of the people that are foolish.


NF: I don’t—well, who do you find foolish in the show?

BT: The people that participate. The poor real estate lady that surprisingly fell into, I guess, gold comedy, and when they showed your reaction, you were taking a picture of her. [In the episode “Mechanic/Realtor,” Nathan hires an exorcist to cleanse a house and its realtor of evil spirits. Nathan snaps a photo on his phone while the realtor is in the midst of her startlingly traumatic exorcism. —Ed.]


NF: Well, that moment in particular, I didn’t even know how to comprehend it. That was an instinct of mine in that moment to take a photo, I guess. Some people view the show that way, and that’s totally valid, but personally, I don’t find the people involved in the show, for the most part, to be foolish. They come across to me as very sweet and endearing most of the time. Especially that real estate lady.

BT: I thought she was, too, but then I felt like you were very removed from her. Why didn’t you just look into the camera with a “What the hell?” But you took out your camera to take a picture of her. I thought that was very removed.


NF: You wanted me to look at the camera that was filming me and give a look?

BT: Yes. Because I wanted you to say to me, as the viewer, “Holy crap! What’s going on here?”


NF: Can you see from my face that I might feel that way?

BT: Not when you pull out your camera and take a picture of her.

NF: I guess it’s maybe a generation thing.

BT: That could be.

NF: I’m a millennial, so, you know. Us millennials, we use our phones to take photos and things. It’s kind of our way of “looking at the camera,” like your generation might have done.


BT: Oh, no, no, no, no.

NF: [Laughs.] No! Sorry, Bonney, I just made a joke. I didn’t mean to do that.

BT: That’s quite all right. I’m a big girl. If you want to throw it down, we can throw it down!


NF: No, Bonney, not at all. I find you to be—even though you said very harsh things about not only the show but me as a person, and me in the show, and me in real life—I find you to be a very charming and sweet lady.

BT: And that’s what makes me wonder, what is wrong with you?

NF: [Laughs.]

BT: Why would you think that was charming? I felt very terrible after that.

JT: About what you said, Mom?

BT: Yes! I felt very bad about it. I said, “Maybe I’m just not cut out for this,” because I don’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings.


JT: Were your feelings hurt by her review, Nathan?

NF: To be honest, it was so extreme that I was laughing for a lot of it. Bonney, would it help you to know a little bit about me personally? My real life?


BT: I would like to know a little bit about you because otherwise—and this was part of my research—I feel like you are Latka Gravas. You know, Latka from Taxi? Andy Kaufman?

NF: Yeah, yes.

BT: You know, he would appear [in public] not as Andy Kaufman [e.g., as alter ego Tony Clifton —Ed.], and it was very confusing, and I don’t want you to be that.


NF: The version of me on the show is much more, obviously, controlled and deliberate than the me in real life because I’m trying to bring things out of people and create situations that will be funny and interesting. But at the same time, I also try to put myself into situations that I don’t know how they’ll go—unpredictable scenarios—so I personally will get thrown off and have to figure out a way out of it. I like doing that with the show as well. The show doesn’t delve a lot into my life outside of the show. Maybe that’s something that you would want to see, but it’s just not—to me, it’s not as interesting as the stuff we put in the show.

BT: No, I agree with you. I agree the show is the show, but then when I tried to find out anything about you, I couldn’t find anything about you.


NF: Well—

BT: You’re very private!

NF: Okay, what do you want to know?

BT: Are you married?

NF: Okay. [Pause.] I was married for a brief time, but I’m no longer married.

BT: Well, you know, that’s not a big deal, but you seemed uncomfortable to say that.


NF: I guess my instinct is not to talk about personal things with places like The A.V. Club, maybe. [Laughs.] I’ll save these conversations for people in my personal life.

BT: Okay.

NF: But I’m opening up to you because you seem kind of sweet and motherly, and maybe I’m feeling like, “Oh, maybe this would be a helpful person to talk to about personal things.”


BT: I’m always here for you, Nathan. Can I ask you a question? If you came to my house and we sat down together and watched America’s Funniest Home Videos, would you laugh out loud?

NF: Yes, I think so! I mean, if the videos are funny. I wouldn’t laugh at ones that weren’t. Why?


BT: Because this is my problem—and this is my problem. Who I see on your show, I’m very uncomfortable with that person.

NF: You’re uncomfortable with that person.

BT: Right. With Nathan the actor.

NF: I see. Because I don’t really smile and laugh that much on the show, right? So it’s a little weird.


BT: Right.

NF: Yeah. You know, it’s drawing from a lot of me in real life because throughout my life, I think I just have a natural straight face. Even sometimes people come up to me when I’m just sitting there and not thinking about anything, and they’ll say, “Are you okay? What’s wrong?” And I’ll just be like, “Nothing, I’m just sitting here.” I started to realize, oh, that’s just how my face looks. I learned to use that natural part of me and exaggerate stuff like that in the show. Another thing I always had trouble with when I was younger was a lot of social situations—it would be hard to just have small talk with strangers or, you know, talk to girls. Now that I’m a little bit older, I can look back on that and draw from that part of me to make these moments in the show that I find really interesting.


But I also think the situations and the uncomfortable moments in the show also, I feel like, are designed to bring out a side of the other person that I find very charming and endearing about them. It’s an interesting litmus test to see—to get a sense of a person. A lot of people come into a situation, especially when they’re being filmed, where they have a certain idea of how they want to present themselves. And that part is usually the least interesting part of them because it’s very controlled, and I’m trying to show who they really are in some little way—with very low stakes.

BT: You know, the other question I have for you is that you seem to have a really big budget for your show that you can spend $7,000 for a headstone in a pet cemetery.


NF: Yeah.

BT: I’m curious about that.

JT: You’re curious about the size of his budget, Ma?

BT: I am!

JT: Okay.

NF: As far as budgets go, I think we’re on the lower end of the spectrum. I don’t know too much about that. But I have a really good team that makes the show with me, and they can make things go a long way. All the stuff goes onto the screen, you know? It’s not a very luxurious environment behind the scenes. This season was the first one where we actually had fresh food in craft services. Previously, there was just packaged crackers and chips!


BT: [Laughs.] Nathan, do you have a favorite episode that you did?

NF: The one you mentioned with the ghost realtor, I do really like that one. Personally, I tend to enjoy the ones where something happened that I wasn’t expecting and threw off the story a bit, and we have to cobble it around that stuff. That was an example where there was a lot of unexpected things. In fact, in that segment, I do almost nothing. I just kind of stand around while everything happens.


JT: Mom, do you have a favorite episode?

BT: I have to admit that the most fascinating one was the poop ice cream.

JT: The one you scorned on the podcast?

BT: I know, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thought about it since then.


NF: You hated that one.

BT: I hated that one!

NF: Yeah. You were using that as the example. Because I remember John was kind of defending the show a little bit—


BT: Very much so.

NF: Thank you, John.

BT: But I thought, who would do this? Who would do this? Nobody in their right mind would do this.


NF: Have you read your son’s reviews of the show?

BT: He loves your show!

NF: Well, he’s also very insightful. He picks up on things that I don’t even have the vocabulary to articulate, so he’s almost the better one to talk to. And I was kind of feeling that this [conversation] might be a bit of a lost cause because if he can’t convey it, I don’t know if I’ll be able to.


BT: Well, you should see some of the stuff he thinks is funny. Sometime if you ever have drinks with him, he should tell you a story about a dead dog that is quite something.

JT: Mom, my comedy sensibilities are not on trial here.

BT: All right.

NF: What’s the most funny to you, Bonney? What do you find the most funny?

BT: I’m gonna tell you, Nathan, the thing I find the most funny is a fat woman on a rope swing on America’s Funniest Home Videos.


NF: [Laughs.] Okay.

BT: How about you?

NF: Um—does she fall, or is she just on a rope?

BT: Oh, my God. You can’t picture a fat woman grabbing onto a rope swing and the disaster that happens?


JT: Well, what does happen, Mom?

BT: Oh, the tree branch breaks. She falls into the river, but she falls on her behind, and oh, my God, it’s the funniest thing in the whole world!


NF: And Bonney, to you, is that a different category of humor than poo frozen yogurt?

BT: Yes!

NF: Hmm.

BT: You don’t think so?

NF: I agree that someone falling down is really funny, and I can go on YouTube and watch people falling. It makes me laugh.


BT: And I’m embarrassed. I’m very embarrassed that that makes me laugh.

NF: Why?

BT: Because it seems cruel. But my husband will tell you, if somebody in the house fell down the stairs, it would take me a minute to stop laughing before I could call for the ambulance. I don’t know what it is. It’s not right!


NF: So maybe my show’s not mean enough for you.

BT: [Laughs.] I just think it’s odd. And also, I watched you on Bob’s Burgers.

NF: Last night, or—?

BT: I watched it this morning because I saw that you put it on Twitter.

NF: Oh, so you’ve really been going full-on investigator on me.

BT: For three days. It’s you and me, Nathan.

NF: Oh, my God. I was on [Bob’s Burgers] once before. This was my second time, and both times I played a crush of Tina’s.


BT: It scares me that that’s who you are, and I really—if that’s who you really are, then I have to feel very protective of you.

NF: What, me on the Bob’s Burgers? What do you mean, that’s who I really am?

BT: Well, because that’s who I think you really come across as on your show, and then I see you on Bob’s Burgers playing the same kind of weirdo. Then I really want to protect you.


NF: I mean, Bob’s Burgers is a cartoon, and I’m doing a—what was I on that show? I haven’t watched the episode yet, but I was a street artist or something, right?

BT: No, you were trying to get to the host of the show so you could chew her hair or something?


JT: Oh, that was the earlier one, Mom.

NF: That was one I did a couple of years ago. You know, keep in mind that I didn’t write that, and that’s not—maybe that’s how people see me, and they write things like that.


BT: But there’s Jon Benjamin, who knows who you are, and he put you in that!

NF: Yeah. So what do you think about that?

BT: I’m just wondering if he says, “Oh, here’s a part for Nathan.”

NF: Ah. Interesting. Do you like Jon Benjamin?

BT: Love him.

NF: Yeah. I mean, he’s great. There’s nothing really bad to say about him. All right, let’s move on from that.


So Bonney, I wanted to bring it up just because when I re-listened to the podcast with you and John talking about the show, early on in that episode, you were talking about an interaction you had at the post office. There was something you said that kind of stood out to me where you said—and I wrote it down, because I wanted to make sure I got it right. These are two separate lines. “I love being angry at someone” is one thing you said.


BT: Right…

NF: And the second thing you said was, “I love feeling black inside.”

BT: I do like that.

NF: Okay. So, a part of me is also wondering, if this is a part of how you feel, do you think that maybe you like hating someone, and you found me, and I was easy to latch onto?


BT: No. No, no, no. No. I would like to love you! I really would. I would like to invite you to come to New Hampshire, and I would love to meet you in person. I just don’t understand—I think I do understand, in talking to you, that you’re Nathan, a real person. As opposed to Nathan “For You.”

NF: Yeah. There’s a difference. In my personal life, I will do whatever it takes to make a situation comfortable if I sense—if I’m talking to someone [and] I sense there’s a silence, I’ll try to fill that gap. It makes me very anxious when things get uncomfortable. But in the show, I don’t do that, and I let those moments sit because I’m trying to create something for viewers.


BT: And I didn’t really understand that when I watched it. I’ve seen reality shows like Survivor that I like. Naked And Afraid. I understand that they’re real people, but I didn’t understand what your show was about. What I’m coming to understand is that there’s another category [of show] that is not aimed at my age group.

NF: Well, there are—I’ve talked to a lot of people. I don’t know your exact age. You sound about, maybe, 41?


BT: Oh, yeah, don’t try and sweet-talk me. I’m 63!

NF: [Laughs.] Okay. I know people around that age that have found some enjoyment from the show. I also know people that have your take on it, too. There are people in my family that—it’s too uncomfortable for them to watch. It’s totally fair that you feel that, but—did you watch new episodes and get new insights since the original podcast you did?


BT: I did.

NF: Did you get anything new from those?

BT: [Sighs.] What I looked at before and said, “Well, that is just crap,” I looked at with a different eye knowing that I would be speaking right to you. And I wondered if—oh, boy. I just wondered if you thought that your oddness was because you’re Canadian.


NF: Hmm. Well, that could be a part of it. But don’t you think everyone is pretty odd?

BT: You know, Nathan, I think there’s a lot of boring people out there. And I have a lot of fun saying a lot of things that people are thinking that they would never say.


NF: Right.

BT: And just by opening my mouth, it makes people laugh because I’m just saying what I really think.


NF: Mm-hmm.

BT: And that’s what I don’t know on your show. What do you really think? Because I think what you do is, you wait. You open up a little hallway of silence that people seem to fall right into.


JT: What a beautiful way to put it.

NF: You’re thinking, “What does Nathan actually think about what’s going on here?”


BT: Yes.

NF: What if there is no clear answer? A lot of the stuff we do on the show, it’s not really—we’re not overtly political. A lot of it’s just about human nature and the struggles of these very minor situations. Something that I was thinking about a lot with the show, too, is—this is maybe a different perspective. [Pause.] You know how the mortgage thing happened in 2008? The housing market collapsed. The stock market collapsed. I got really obsessed with it because it was kind of the first big recession in my lifetime.


I started reading all these books about it, trying to understand, “How did this happen?” Because we’re this culture of corruption, but [corruption] that was just legal enough to squeak by. It all came down to these minor interactions that people would have with each other where someone would know something’s wrong or unethical, but the other person just wouldn’t want to speak up because the social environment wasn’t conducive to that.

So all these terrible things that happened, these big world events, came down to basically two people in a room with one person being too uncomfortable to speak their mind. I’m delighted a lot by how you speak because you talk your mind, and you say exactly what’s on your mind. But I find very few people actually do that. If they’re worried about, maybe, coming across as rude or offending the other person, or getting fired, if they speak up. Maybe it’s more of a Canadian thing, too, but I think it’s everywhere. People do that everywhere. In Canada, maybe, people are even less likely to rock the boat. Maybe starting there, I picked up on that stuff. I find that a lot of bigger things come down to these smaller moments.


It’s hard to know why you find something funny. You like that fat lady falling off the swing, but you feel embarrassed that you like it. But you don’t know why you find it funny. It’s just something in you, right?

BT: Right.

NF: So, I don’t know. I just go by that instinct, and then I’m trying to make something funny for people. It’s hard to think about it beyond that.


BT: You’re trying to create a type of humor in what you’re doing? Is that what you’re doing?

NF: Create a type of humor? I don’t know about that. I’m making what I would want to watch—the moments I find most interesting about people, and the world, and the difficulties people have in—not these bigger situations, but just smaller moments. I also like stupid, silly things, too! Like people falling, or poo stuff. It’s fun to also be immature. There’s not a lot of sophistication sometimes.


BT: I live with a man that thinks farts are hilarious.

NF: Well, they are.

BT: I don’t—I think that’s a man thing. I don’t know. Whatever. Tell me who you think is funny. Who do you laugh at?


NF: Just in general? Some of the funniest things are just situations in life that are funny. The way people interact. People describing their first kiss with someone, to me, is really funny. When someone goes into detail about each moment of that, I really find that enjoyable to listen to. I also like if I watch a video on YouTube of someone falling, just like you. Or someone farting. There’s a wide spectrum. I’ll watch comedy shows, and I’ll find that funny.

But I’m always trying to—I like things, too, that I’m like, “No one else is doing stuff like this.” I want things to feel different.


BT: Oh, I think you’ve achieved that. I do.

NF: Well, thank you, Bonney.

BT: I do! I mean that as a compliment.

NF: Thank you. But again, I don’t usually get into these things where—I’m not as good at articulating about all the aspects of the show and why I find it interesting.


BT: I think you’ve done a very fine job.

NF: Oh, that’s nice of you to say.

BT: I mean that!

NF: Maybe I’ll do more of this now. Maybe it’s something I feel I’m not good at, but maybe I’m realizing, “Maybe I’m okay at this.”


BT: I think you’re okay. You should have more confidence in yourself.

JT: That’s so nice, Mom. Do you like Nathan a little better after having this chat?


BT: Oh, I like Nathan very much. I think he’s a lovely man, and I think he’s as vulnerable as we all are, which I didn’t think watching his show. I thought he was—[Pause.]—superior. But I didn’t read it right.

NF: No, you read the show well. How you probably should read it. But. [Long pause.] Well, maybe you didn’t read it right. [Laughs.]


BT: No, I don’t think I did. I don’t think I did, Nathan. And probably because I’m too old. But I understand it better after talking to you. I understand that it’s a genre that I’m not familiar with, and I was very quick to judge it.

NF: It’s fair. It’s a good instinct to have to be able to do that and take a stance. Sometimes it’s hard for me to pick a side with a lot of things. I see both sides of an argument very clearly a lot of the time, and it’s hard for me to take a strong stand either way.

BT: That’s an aspect of your show—it seems to have lawyers involved a lot. Is that a field that interests you?


NF: It’s a mentality. When you’re thinking about things just in terms of, “If it’s legal and it makes money, let’s do it”—in a lot of the culture now, or from what I gauge is the culture on Wall Street these days, [the mentality] is, the only way to make money is to find a loophole that’s technically legal but one step ahead of anything anyone else has thought about. They don’t really think about how it’s affecting the world or the moral or ethical issues with it—if it’s legal and it can make money. Part of me tries to take on that mentality a little bit. To put on the blinders to any sort of consequences outside of that.

At the same time, I do think there is this sense for people in this situation—if you’re putting yourself in that mindset of someone who’s just out there to make money and doesn’t care about [ethics], at the end of the day they’re probably doing it because they have some vague idea that it’s going to bring them closer to people, or give them the life they want. In the show, I try to [convey] that general sense that yes, you’re talking business with people, but there’s this need for connection that goes beyond what people are saying. Not to bash Wall Street, but no one really cares, right? If I talk bad about them?


BT: Can I ask you something? Are you happy?

NF: I am happy.

BT: That makes me happy.

NF: Thank you for asking. Are you happy?

BT: I am happy. You know, I had a bout with some cancer last winter that is all gone. It was a very traumatic thing for my family, and I do try to remember to be happy every day.


NF: Well, congratulations for getting through that. It’s all gone?

BT: It’s gone. It was gone in a couple of weeks.

NF: That’s quite a scare. When it happened, where was your mind at? When you got this diagnosis, what were you thinking?


BT: I thought, “Well, that’s it. I’m gone.” But it wasn’t that kind of cancer, so they just cut it off—it was on my stomach—and they cut it out, and it was gone! Then I didn’t know how to act. I didn’t want to tell people that I was a cancer survivor because I never really let it come into my mind that I had it. So I never really told anyone.

NF: I mean, people must know, right? Or are you just telling people now?

BT: People now will find out, mostly.

JT: Well, we talked about it on the podcast, Mom.

BT: Oh, that’s right. We did talk about it on the podcast. But I’ve had friends who came up to me since who said, “I wish I’d known. I wish you’d told me.” I look at that as me being very private, and I wonder if you’re that kind of private.


NF: Probably. Also, in the past few years, I’ve been much more exposed to the general population, and my instinct is to be a private person. I like people watching the show and what we make. But [watching] me personally, I don’t. I went through a similar thing. I went through a divorce last year, and I didn’t know how to talk about it at first because it was so shocking. “Shocking” isn’t the right word, but it’s a heavy emotional thing. And even though it wasn’t an extreme situation, it was very—what’s the word, John, where two people are cool with everything? “Amicable”?

JT: Yeah, “amicable.” Let’s go with that.

NF: Right, amicable. I want John on the phone anytime I need a word. [Laughs.] Even though it was very amicable, it was one of the heaviest things. I didn’t know how to talk about it. But I’m in a good place, and I feel like that’s probably similar to how you’re viewing—not that it’s comparable to cancer, but, you know. [Pause.] Divorce is obviously much worse than cancer. Sorry, I’m just kidding!


BT: Listen, listen! A divorce would have been worse than what I went through.

NF: No, no—

BT: Yes! It really would have.

NF: That’s why I was asking about what you were thinking of when that happened—and you were like, “Okay, I’m gone.” What did you do that day?


BT: I immediately started to deny it. Deny it any place in my brain. I just wouldn’t let it settle.

NF: I find that when I get into situations that I have no experience with—like, I think I dive into a lot of situations really quickly because I get passionate, and I want to do something. It’s a whole new thing that you’re trying to figure out, and you don’t know how to deal with something, but when you go through it, you now have a whole new category of skills you can use for the future.


BT: Exactly.

NF: I don’t have any regrets in my life because of that. I notice how I change after doing something, that I go, “Crap. I should have done this differently.” And you probably now have a new perspective, you were saying, and that’s probably a very valuable experience to have had. Even though cancer sucks.


John, I feel like you’ve been excluded from this hour-long conversation.

JT: I’ve loved it.

NF: How has this been for you to listen to this interaction happen?

JT: It’s been like my own episode of Nathan For You. It’s at turns surprisingly poignant, and at turns lunatic. If I can just weigh in on one thing that you guys discussed—Mom, I think you can see how thoughtful Nathan is and how actually down-to-earth he is, and that’s what I admire so much about the show. He touched on this briefly, but it uses the rank artificiality of TV and TV-making to extract this surprising authenticity out of people. It’s happened on this call, and I think that’s what happens on the show.


BT: So Nathan, would you ever come visit me in New Hampshire?

NF: I definitely—I mean, if I’m in the area, I’ll definitely stop by.

BT: Are you ever in the area? Who comes to New Hampshire?

NF: I’m not very good with my U.S. geography. What does it border?

BT: Oh, my God.

JT: Maine, Canada—

NF: What province?

BT: Oh, we don’t know anything about Canada.

JT: [Laughs.] We don’t know!

NF: [Bemused.] You don’t know the province it borders? [It’s Quebec. —Ed.]

BT: What about Boston? Do you ever come to Boston?

NF: Yeah! I’m actually going to be doing a show in Boston, kind of a screening, in November.


BT: We could meet then! I’m only an hour and a half away from Boston.

NF: I would love to meet up and continue this conversation. Maybe we could get breakfast.


BT: Love it. I love breakfast!

NF: You’re so sweet, Bonney. You’re too sweet.

BT: No, no. So, are you serious about Boston, though?

NF: Uh, yeah, it’s kind of good because I haven’t booked my flights yet. So I can catch one in time for breakfast—[Laughs.]—if you want to do something that day.


BT: Yes. I would like to do that. That would be great.

NF: It would be so great. Oh, my God.

BT: I would love to do that! I would love to give you a hug and talk with you. I would love that!


NF: [Laughs.] You’re so sweet, I can’t believe it. I don’t even know how to respond. I would love to see you in person because I have an image of you right now, but it’s very hazy and abstract. So it would help to clarify that as well. I feel like you’d have interesting insight. Maybe you’d have some good wisdom for me in general that would help me out in my life.

BT: I don’t know about that. I think you’re just fine, but I would like to meet you.


NF: Okay, let’s figure that out. John, you’re very lucky to have such a sweet and supportive mom.

JT: I am. That’s the truth. So, Mom, if the Boston breakfast works out, I’ll coordinate with Nathan’s folks to help set that up, okay?


BT: That would be wonderful. I hope, Nathan, that you do. It’ll be worth our time.

NF: Okay. You’re doing a really hard sell, so I feel like I need to make this happen.


BT: Okay!

NF: Start looking up places that would be good to eat there.