With “The Rehearsal”, the comedian continues his great style experiments
Anticipation of the premiere of Nathan Fielder’s new HBO show, Repetition, was feverish. It’s been five years since the comedian’s acclaimed series Nat for you came to an end, and fans were dying to know what weird, weird, and hilarious direction his work might take next. The first episode, which aired on July 15, came with a concept like nothing had been attempted on television before. But above all, he preserved one of Fielder’s greatest strengths.
The man has an unrivaled drip.
Earlier in the episode, Fielder is forced to create a fake blog called “Thrifty Boy” as an excuse to contact someone who writes their own blog about fun, free things to do in New York. Next, he needs to get inside information from a man who runs a bar quiz business, so he recycles the fake blog concept to serve a different purpose – this both effective and pointless choice makes part of what makes Fielder a genius—and dons a “Thrifty Boy” disguise, all mismatched and ill-fitting clothes, including a jacket with part of the tag still on it.
The absurdity of the fit, intended to amuse the viewer, also turns it into high fashion, which is, in turn, even funnier. Still, anyone who interacts with Fielder while dressed that way will have to equate it to normal streetwear – which, of course, it could be! A great joy to Nat for you which seems to have carried Repetition sees Fielder infiltrate with the help of costume and style alone: he never modulates his deadpan voice or placid demeanor, never acts the character, only looks this. He becomes the slightly different Nathan from another universe. And in doing so, he poetically conveys how clothes make the man.
Great credit goes to Laura Wheeler, the main client of Nat for youand Briana Jorgenson, costume designer for Repetition, who dressed up Fielder’s poised persona with bolder and often tough looks that have you laughing before he’s even said a word. They succeed by playing against Fielder’s normal work attire, a bland casual outfit of tucked-in buttoned shirts and pants, sometimes a plain polo or sweater, nothing more daring than checkered or checkered patterns. These outfits — which by all indications are to Fielder’s taste — can fulfill a need for neutrality or disappear into a scene, though they also allow him to appear professional and trustworthy to the people he cheats on. Best when he attempts an affect contrary to his own, thereby drawing attention to the equally incongruous conservatism of his officewear. For example, when he tries to relax and “hang out” with guys in a man cave.
It’s also a delight to watch Fielder’s storylines compel him to ditch those safe staple ensembles for increasingly distinctive, high-stakes attire, from a “Dumb Starbucks” manager’s uniform to the outfit suit from Santa’s elf (worn in the summer) to a plastic suit full of chilli that keeps him from going to the bathroom. The discomfort that accompanies all of this is sublimated into its greatest superpower: control. Fielder puts himself in situations and clothes that would embarrass anyone or send him into panic attacks, but his blood pressure doesn’t skyrocket. I don’t even know if he’s sweating. It’s the cool detachment of a runway model, nothing less.
So take advantage of this season of Repetition, and as you squirm in your seat, be sure to notice the odd confidence Fielder exudes as he dons a ridiculous costume to further his convoluted plans. If that’s the attitude it takes to pull off groundbreaking television, it’s also the secret to rocking your riskiest fashion choices. Grab a bucket hat, it’s Thrifty Boy summer.