Nathan For You S4E2, “Chili Shop / Massage Parlor”

I’ll try to keep this quick so a discussion can get going about Thursday night’s episode. I thought this was more standard Nathan fare; most of the audacity came from Nathan himself and not the other people in his environment, like in the best episode. Of course, since this show is nothing like anything else on TV, even a “standard” episode of Nathan For You is appointment viewing.

Chili Shop

Nathan gets the idea to help a Bakersfield, CA restauranteur sell his chili at the local minor league hockey games. I saw previews of this in the commercials, and I was really hoping Nathan aimed higher, like an NFL stadium or something. As is, the plan is still pretty audacious, but neither as audacious or risky as it could be. (And I think Nathan knows it; the inclusion of that one shot of the heat-resistant polymer testing says he felt the need to add some stakes.)

Nathan does concoct a pretty elaborate chili-dispensing suit (which, in one hilarious iteration, has a separate waste-disposal hose, until Nathan immediately realizes he’s going to accidentally serve someone shit instead of chili). And he does come up with some elaborate details– getting a pacemaker authorization from a doctor to explain why his suit is setting off the metal detector– but nothing really goes awry; even the moment where a security guard may be following him is ambiguous enough that it’s not clear he was ever in real danger. (Hiding out in a handicapped stall to evade him was inspired, though.)

Best moments: The chocolate muffin, and the doctor leading Nathan into the right thing to ask to get an X-ray.

Massage Parlor

A local massage parlor is having trouble making a profit, so in an idea which echoes my favorite segment of the series, “Gas Station,” Nathan offers a special price which no one will want to take advantage of. And just like “Gas Station,” this segment brings an older, mustachioed gentleman on the fringes of society into Nathan’s orbit, and he’s one of the highlights.

Nathan’s idea is to make the massage special something so unpalatable no one will want to order it, so that customers will gladly upgrade to a more profitable massage. So Nathan goes to Craigslist and recruits people with active warts.

I gotta admit, this was another impressive attempt by him to “legitimize” his business idea, going so far as to create a charity, CityWarts, dedicated to employing people with warts, and throwing a charity benefit so he can stage a photo op with a city councilman (and have an awkward moment with a former Miss California).

But the true weirdness in this episode comes from the folks Nathan recruited, and one in particular. This older gentleman, whose name is not given, seems to have A)some sort of junk pseudoscience “healer” practice going on, B)an alarming willingness to discuss his history with warts in detail, and C)an inexplicable need to inform a potential employer of his nightly cunnilingus. Let’s give that guy a reality show, because he is fucking nuts.

That kind of discovery of fringe people is one of my favorite aspects of Nathan For You, and a reminder that humanity comes in a lot more distinctions than our own small tribes or what we think of as “normal society.” That said, burning off a wart encircling your penis with a soldering iron because “I know what a doctor’s gonna do, so why not do it” is completely insane and I hope I never have to think about that again.

Again, Nathan’s plan pretty much works; he saves the upsell until the clients are already disrobed and on the table, at which point, “another 15 bucks” seems like a much better idea than either “get dressed, get a refund, and leave again” or “get touched by someone with warts.” Not a lot of drama this episode, unless you think sparks are going to fly between the massage parlor owner and Mr. “I start at the feet and ankles and work up. All the way up.”

Both segments with their share of entertainment and laugh-out-loud moments, but Nathan For You has raised the bar that the best episodes can only be described as “mindblowing,” and this wasn’t that.


  • Another great moment from “Chili Shop”: The kid who lit up when he saw how the chili was dispensed but then declined to have any.
  • Nathan hiring “a fat guy” off Craigslist was another nice Nathan touch.
  • How many of the chili shop owner’s political stickers did you notice? I caught “Jan 20, 2017: The End of an Error” and “OBAMANATION: [we r scrood]”. (That latter one could prompt its own discussion, as in: Whose idea was this? Why did they think that would be funny or clever? But let’s save that for the comments.)
  • At the CityWarts gala, that opening anecdote from Miss California 2013 seemed rather, ah, improvised. (I wish we’d gotten a slightly different interaction between her and Nathan; it seemed rather standard for this show, which is so great at surprising us.)
  • Glad our CityWarts angels got to tell their stories at the gala, for sure.
  • The final exchange before the “Abso Lutely” stinger is just delightful. “Is it the baking itself, or the look in the eyes they get when you give it to them?” “Both!”
  • Hey, both segments had terrible crotch stuff going on. Great.
  • Oh Lord, CityWarts has a YouTube video: