Nathan for You (2013–…): Season 2, Episode 5 - Nathan for You - full transcript

Nathan uses parody law to help a struggling coffee shop.

Are you wondering how healthy the food you are eating is? Check it -
A coffee controversy
is brewing tonight.

A new shop in Los Feliz is
calling itself "Dumb Starbucks."

Dumb Starbucks.

Dumb Starbucks.

Dumb Starbucks.

Dumb Starbucks.

Dumb Starbucks.

Dumb Starbucks.


Dumb Starbucks.

Its origin and owner
are a mystery.

My name is Nathan Fielder,

And I graduated from one
of Canada's top business schools

with really good grades.

Now I'm using my knowledge

to help struggling
small business owners make it

in this competitive world.

This is
Nathan for You.

Elias Zacklin is the owner
of Helio Cafe,

a small coffee shop
in East Hollywood, California.

And he prides himself on doing
things a little bit different.

The atmosphere's
very eclectic.

You don't walk in and--

Actually, there's even--
not even a menu in my shop.

And that's been done

But in a world
where one company

has practically perfected
the coffee experience,

going against the grain has
caused Elias' shop to be empty,

so I paid him a visit with a way
for him to finally compete

with the big players.

The problem with you
is you have great coffee

but just no one knows
what this place is.

- Correct.
- No one--

You don't have a brand
that people recognize.

- Absolutely.
- But maybe there's a shortcut

to actually having
brand recognition.

Using a little something
called parody law.

Parody law.

Often used by artists like
"Weird Al" Yankovic

and shows like
Saturday Night Live,

parody law allows you
to use trademarks

and copyrighted material as long
as you're making fun of them.

So if Elias could find a way
to make fun of Starbucks,

he'd be free and clear to borrow
their valuable corporate name

and image for his store.

The plan:
turn the Helio Cafe

into the world's first
parody Starbucks.

So how do you make that
a parody without it--

You just not mimicking
their brand?

Like, the coffees could be
"Dumb Grande," "Dumb Venti"...

- Yeah, I got you.
- "Dumb Frappuccino."


I mean, as a whole, the store
could just be called

- "Dumb Starbucks."
- Right. That's--

Okay, I see what you're saying.

But the "Dumb" could be small
so people could come in

thinking it's
an actual Starbucks.

It's smart, I just don't know

if people would get it.
You know.

I don't know if people are,
you know...

Well, do people get
what you're doing now?

- You're not that popular.
- Right.

- You have no menu.
- That's true.

I mean, what do you have
to lose by trying?

I mean, what do I have
to lose?

I... I don't know actually.

Elias was on board, but
he did have one major concern.

I definitely could not afford
a lawsuit from Starbucks.

Definitely not.

Based off what I read on

it seemed like my approach
was legal.

But just to be sure,
I retained the services

of attorney Peter J. Marx
to guarantee we were protected.

"Dumb Starbucks"?

But the "Dumb" would be
smaller so people

would still think
it's a Starbucks.

If people think it's a
Starbucks, you've got a problem.

It's not really a parody then.

Apparently, my legal footing
wasn't as solid as I thought.

But then Peter brought up one
way I could cover myself.

Let's say you had a reputation
as being a--


someone who does
lots of parody.

Then they know, oh, he's just
making fun of Starbucks,

because this is what he does.

So I have to become
a parody artist.

It wouldn't hurt.

It seemed like I still had
some work ahead of me.

But before leaving, I needed
to be sure I was protected.

So if I do all this,
then Starbucks can't sue me?

This is America.

People file lawsuits
at the drop of a hat.

But if they sue,
you're liable too, right?

- Who's liable?
- You.

- Me personally?
- Yeah.

Not unless I'm involved
in-- in viola--

in infringing
their trademark, no.

Yeah, the appearance release
you signed before had a clause

that you would be liable too,
if Starbucks sued.

I don't agree to this at all.

I do not agree to pay
all legal fees and damages from

legal action because
I have no control

over what's being released.

Well, why did you sign
that, then?

Yeah, I signed it. And I
signed it because I didn't have

a chance to read it
and I thought--

But you're a lawyer.
Don't you read things

- before you sign them?
- I do read things--

I try to read things but you
wanted me to shoot and I glanced

at it and this was my mistake.
I'll acknowledge that.

Okay. Well, you signed it so I
guess you can give that back.

Well, I-I'm not gonna give it
back because I'm going to--

Well, I handed it to you just
to look over, but you already--

No, I'm not gonna
give it back to you.

I'm protecting myself and,
frankly, you from a nightmare.

Well, you signed it.

We have you on camera
signing it.

So it still holds up in court.

You don't have me on camera
signing it.

Yes, we do.

What kind of lawyer am I?
Signing [bleep] I haven't read.

Well, if you do, that's fine
then you-- then you'll know

how the terms--I'm gonna put it
in my pocket.

Well, no, we don't want it
in your pocket.

I-- We do want it
in my pocket.

Please, you're in my office.

I'm very serious. And I don't
know if you're really trying

to do this just for the show,
but I'd like you

to get off my desk and I'm gonna
ask you to leave the office.

I was disappointed that Peter
was trying to back out

of the deal he signed.

But our producers were
eventually able to calm him down

enough to keep shooting.

They just said they need to
get a shot of the-- an insert

of the document.
Like a shot of it.

It's staying--
It's staying in my pocket.

- It's not going anywhere.
- Well, we just need to get

a shot of the clause
for the scene.

- I-I--
- On the document.

You can hold on to it.

Just hold it out
like you'd had and then--yeah.

This camera needs to get it
out here.

Okay, that's how I had it.

And then you can--

just make sure you get an insert
of the actual--

You know, I'm about to-- I
don't know if you're provoking

me or not, but I'm-- I'm not--
I'm getting tired of this.

I'm not gonna be responsible
for your conduct, okay?

My plan to have Peter share
liability didn't work.

So it was more important
than ever that Elias and I

take his guidance
to protect ourselves.

It would just be helpful,
legally, if we had a history

of being parody artists.


I told him we'd only have
two weeks

to make as big of a splash
as possible.

So we got to work coming up
with some songs

that we could perform
around town.

So the easiest thing that
anyone would recognize

is a Stones song,
a Zeppelin song.

Yeah, maybe we could, like,
skewer them for being old.


I can't get an erection,
but I try, but I try.

Or something like that.
You know, I don't know.

We had our first song,
and after finishing the lyrics

I booked us a spot
at a local open mic night

so we could begin building
our legal defense.

Elias and I are big fans
of the Rolling Stones.

But, you know, we were talking
lately and we thought

"You know, these guys are kinda
getting a little old," so...

♪ I can't get no-ho ♪

♪ e-e-rection ♪

♪ I can't get no-ho ♪

♪ e-e-rection ♪

Our first performance actually
went pretty well.

But after our set, Elias
expressed some reservations.

Are you not confident
in the lyrics?


He was too nervous
to get on stage again.

So after writing more songs,

I had to do the next open mic,
on my own.

♪ I'm not afraid ♪

♪ To grab my balls ♪

♪ Everybody ♪

♪ Come grab my balls ♪

♪ Don't let the checks run dry ♪

♪ Royalties ♪

♪ Shave tonight ♪

♪ Let's get that beard
all gone ♪

♪ Too much stubble ♪

♪ Let's get that hair
all gone ♪

I thought the show went okay,

but unfortunately,
the audience didn't agree.

I didn't really like that
at all.

It's not really my cup of tea.

He [bleep] sucked.

Maybe musical parody
just wasn't in style right now,

because when I looked online, no
one was writing about my work.

So I called Elias
with a change of plan.

I was thinking maybe, you know,
we move into some more visual

parody and do, like,
a more formal art show.

Are you saying that this is
not your priority right now?

Or what are you saying?

Elias said he didn't have time
to help.

But I knew this
was my last shot

to become known
as a parody artist.

So I spent the rest of the week
generating art pieces.

And booked a gallery space
in a hip neighborhood

to display my work.

And after passing out flyers to
make sure I had a crowd...

- Friday night at 7:00?
- Yeah.

I can make that.

my art show
was ready to begin.

After putting the final
touches on my parody art,

we opened our doors
and right away I could tell

people were digging my work.

America being mostly about war
and Bank of America

being about profits
and money as well, I just--

I actually like that one.

The meaning of this is
actually just, like, you know,

you put your money in the bank.
It's really safe.

Like a tank.


I'm just curious, like,
what in your opinion

makes this piece worth $2,500?

Like, what did you put into it

that would make it worth
that much?

Unlike my songs, my visual
pieces seemed to be making

the impact I needed them to.

As people were taking me
seriously as a parody artist...

Well, this catches my eye.
Yeah, I feel this.

the night was a success.

And best of all,
I now had the evidence to argue

that Dumb Starbucks was just
another one of my art pieces.

But as the show was winding
down, I found myself frustrated

that Elias didn't even bother
to show up.

I was working night and day
to help his business

and he didn't even seem
to care.

But I wasn't gonna let an idea
this good go to waste.

So the next day, I returned to
the Helio Cafe with my lawyer

to make things fair.

Basically, as I understand it,
what Nathan has related to me,

is that he has done
the lion's share of the work

in setting up the business.

Not only creating the concept,
coming up with it...

Peter went on to say
that Elias would no longer

be a part of Dumb Starbucks,

that I would be opening up
a new shop on my own,

and that Elias
would be getting nothing.

Do you have any questions
of me at this time?

I-- not-- not at this time.
Not at this time.

After severing ties
with Elias,

I could now proceed without
his dead weight slowing me down.

So I rented a vacant retail
space in Los Feliz, California,

that would serve as the location
for the first Dumb Starbucks.

This reminds me of the metal
in my house.

You have metal in your house
like that?

- Yeah.
- Oh.

Construction began

and it would take at least
a week to build the shop.

So in the meantime,
I posted an ad on Craigslist

seeking baristas
with Starbucks experience.

And after receiving
some responses,

I met with the applicants
to see if they'd be a good fit.

When you're interacting with
customers, you know,

it's important to have a good
sense of humor.


Do you have
a good sense of humor?

Yeah, I think so.

So, let's see some of that.


Hey, how's it going?
How's your day?

Yeah, it's going well.

It's going well?
How's the weather?

- You enjoying the weather?
- Yeah.

Yeah, that's cool.
I'm not.

It's just too warm.

And I'm getting over
a sickness too,

so it's even more warm
than I'd like it to be.

- That was funny.
- Yeah, thanks.

Jeremiah was perfect
for the job.

I also hired Amber since we
seemed to have a lot in common.

What would you say
is your greatest weakness?

My greatest weakness
is that I'm too nice.

That's so funny, that's-- it--
that's my greatest weakness too.

- Really?
- Yeah.

And with the store set to open
in less than 24 hours,

my crew and I put
the final touches on making

my parody Starbucks
look as authentic as possible.

Before long,
everything was complete.

And after giving Amber and
Jeremiah their official uniforms

we had our first
employee orientation

to go over
some company policies.

So because of the size
of the company,

I am also
the HR department here.

So we need to go over the code
of conduct when it comes to

telationships in the workplace.

The rule of thumb is,
if you begin dating

another employee here,
it has to be reported to HR.

Also, because sexual tension
is something

that's very distracting
in the workplace,

if you find yourself attracted
to another employee,

that also needs to be disclosed.

Um, Amber,
do you want to go first?


Well, I mean,
everybody's different.

So, like, for me personally,
attraction is more than just--

I mean, who out of the people
you work with

are you attracted to
the most?

Including bosses.

Uh, wow.

Okay, I'm gonna--
I'll go with you.

- Me?
- Yeah.

So out of everyone
you work with,

you're most attracted to me?

And you heard that, or--?

Yeah, I heard that.
Yeah, loud and clear.

So mine,
I guess would be you.

And Jeremiah,
I guess, no one picked you.

But, um, for the record I guess
I do need to know

who you are most attracted to.

Um, just say her.

- Amber?
- Yeah.

Okay, well, obviously,
you know, she did pick me--

- Yeah.
- so that is unlikely to happen.

But it's good that I do know
that for the record.

And I think the fact that we've
talked about it,

now we can continue working
as peers

without there being
any awkwardness.


After our employee

I showed Amber and Jeremiah
around the shop.

And got them acquainted
with all the items

Dumb Starbucks has to offer.

The only thing left to do

was unveil our new sign
to the world.

- Ready?
- Yeah.

- Ready.
- All right.


Yay, all right.

- Pretty good, huh?
- Yeah.

And with that,
Dumb Starbucks

was officially
open for business.

With our sign now on display,
my plan quickly began to work,

as people started coming in

thinking it was
an actual Starbucks.

Oh, Dumb Starbucks.
Okay, okay.

Oh, you thought
it was Starbucks.

I did.

But the few customers we did
get seemed to have trouble

understanding what we were
all about.

I mean, legally speaking,

this store has to be categorized
as an art gallery,

so we don't have to abide
by the same health regulations

as a Starbucks would.

I mean, we don't want any of
our customers to get sick.

But if they do,

that's part of
the artistic experience.

Things were off
to an okay start.

But as the day progressed,
I became frustrated

we weren't getting the amount
of customers I expected.

So I headed out to a nearby
coffee shop

to try and spread the word
about my new business.

Just so you know,
there's a Dumb Starbucks

that's opened up
down the block.

- Okay.
- Okay.

It's basically the same coffee.
Cheaper prices, and--

- Dumb Starbucks?
- Yeah.

Today, you know, you can have
a free coffee on me.

I understand you're trying
to promote your company.

- Right.
- I admire that.

But that's great.
You can't do it on

- Starbucks' property.
- And I admire you.

- And I will be--
- And every time I step back,

- you keep taking a step forward.
- No, I haven't moved.

You have.
We started over here.

No, we started right here.

- But you need to walk that way.
- Okay, I will.

Unfortunately, my marketing
efforts were cut short.

But I was at least able
to get some free supplies.

With an underwhelming
launch day,

I began to feel like I put in
all this effort for nothing.

But the next morning
things changed.

Jeremiah called me to say
there was a line

of over 15 people at the store.

Then I saw photos
of my shop posted

on a straight body building
message board.

But I couldn't have foreseen
what happened next.

A new coffee shop
with a familiar name

creating quite a stir
in Los Angeles.

The coffee shop-- get this--
is called Dumb Starbucks.

That looks exactly
like a Starbucks.

The logo, the lettering,
the green coloring--

How do they get away
with this?

Because they put the word
"Dumb" on top of Starbucks,

so they're parodying

A coffee chain notorious
for suing imitators

may have finally
met it's match.

At the counter, customers
can order a "Dumb Venti"

Or buy a CD
of "Dumb Norah Jones Duets."

Some people waited in line
for up to an hour.

It's an art gallery where
coffee is considered art.

What's the point of the art?
I mean, what's the message?

I don't know.

I was stunned.

We had more customers
than I ever dreamed of.

And within 24 hours,
Dumb Starbucks

had become
a worldwide sensation.

Yeah, there's absolutely
artistic value here.

To me, this is a protest.

This is a protest
against the big fish.

The leviathans of Starbucks.

It was cool that people
could draw their own meaning

from a business that
was just there to make money.

There's a rumor
that it might be Banksy

and we're all really excited
about that.

I had inadvertently
created something

that was on par with one of
the world's greatest artists.

Something tied to an art

Maybe this is Banksy.

Before I knew it,
cups from my shop

were selling on eBay
for $500 a piece.

And swindlers were even trying
to cash in on the hype

by hocking fake merchandise
outside the store.

By the end of the weekend
I realized that Dumb Starbucks

was a bigger idea
than I ever thought it could be.

So I gathered the worldwide
media to announce

that we were expanding.


I'm proud to announce
that we'll soon be opening

a second Dumb Starbucks location
in Brooklyn, New York,

within the next two weeks.

My business was not only
a bona fide success,

but for the first time
in my life

It felt like people actually
wanted to be around me.

Whatever I had done
resonated with the entire world.

And the attention
was like sunlight on my soul.

My entire marketing plan
depended on using

their corporate logo
to get attention.

And the only way to legally do
it is by using "Dumb."

Every major network in America
wanted to know my story.

Nathan Fielder.

I was invincible.

And I have to admit, the view
from the top was pretty nice.

We're also famous
for our pastries.

I brought you some, actually.
- Oh, okay. Yeah, great.

I brought some
of our pastries, yeah.

Oh, those look great.

What do you call these?
Are these those--

- I brought muffins too.
- Oh, look at that.

- These are our famous pastries.
- Isn't that weird.

It says Vons on the side.

I was all smiles
and my head was in the clouds.

Then all of a sudden,
reality hit.

The coffee shop called
"Dumb Starbucks"

that popped up in Los Feliz
this weekend is now closed.

The Los Angeles Health
Department shut down

Dumb Starbucks yesterday because
it did not have proper permits.

Right now, the future of
Dumb Starbucks isn't clear.

Being shut down by the Health
Department was the worst thing

that could happen to me.

I was at risk of losing

And I realized that maybe I knew
less about running a coffee shop

than I initially thought.

But then I remembered,
there was one person I knew

with the knowledge
to get me out of this.

I can do the training
and I can source the beans.

The Health Department will have
to come in, do a plan check.

- Okay.
- That I can do.

When I returned to Elias
to ask for his help

he wanted nothing
to do with me.

So you think we're-- we're not
friends and we're not--

My friends don't hire lawyers
to come and sign contracts.

I thought--I thought
we were friends or--

But my friends don't have
cameras and lights and lawyers.

And producers.

That's not how you establish
a friendship.

Elias' words hit me
like a ton of bricks.

And in that moment, I realized
that in building Dumb Starbucks,

I became someone
that I never wanted to be.

I began all this trying to help
a struggling coffee shop

gain recognition.

And in my scramble
to make things work

I put myself
before my fellow man,

time and time again.

In the end, I got everything
I could have ever dreamed of.

But what does success mean
if the road that got you there

is paved with broken hearts?

They say that the devil
is an artist.

And if that's so, then maybe I
was his greatest piece yet.

So rather than fighting
the Health Department,

I decided it was time
for Dumb Starbucks to end.

It may have been impossible
to right every wrong,

but it wasn't too late
to begin doing what was right.

Jeremiah, I'd like to give you
my blessing

to pursue Amber,
if that's what you want.

And whatever happens after that,


Bringing people joy
is my true calling.

I might have lost my opportunity
to help the Helio Cafe

in the way I intended.

But with the world's eye still
on me, I could at least

draw their attention to the
place that needed it the most.