Nathan for You (2013–…): Season 4, Episode 5 - Nathan for You - full transcript

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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."

From the outside,
this building may look boring,

but there's actually
something pretty cool inside.

Byrnes Logistics,
a shipping logistics company

based in El Segundo, California,

where customs broker
Christy Pratt works tirelessly

to help her clients
export their products

all around the world.

But sending goods across
international borders

can be expensive
because of import taxes

known as "tariffs."

Every product has
a different duty rate.

Um, it can be from free to 35%.

But when I learned she
was working with an exporter

of smoke detectors, it gave me an idea

that could save her client millions,

and make Christy the hottest
shipping broker in town.

Just looking it up on my phone,
it seems like there's

a pretty high tariff for smoke
detectors in a lot of countries.

Yeah, I mean a lot of countries charge

high duty rates on smoke detectors.

You know, it is what it is.

I mean, you're not gonna get around it.

Well, not so fast.

Unlike smoke detectors,
musical instruments

ship duty-free to most countries.

So, if Christy were able
to convince Customs

that the noise from her smoke alarms

was actually intended to make music,

the savings for her clients
would be astronomical.


- Well...
- I mean, technically anything

that makes a noise can be
a musical instrument, right?

You know, if you can
convince Customs, go for it.

Why are you so pessimistic?

Because I've worked
in this business a long time.

I know what Customs is going to say.

You know I went
to business school, right?

Yeah, no, I didn't. I don't know you.

Oh, okay. I did go to business school.

All right, well...

Oh, you're done with your sentence?

- I'm done.
- Okay.

You said, "All right, well,"
and I thought you were

gonna say something else.

- No.
- Oh, okay.

Christy was skeptical,
but I was determined

to prove her wrong,
so I began the process

of designing new packaging
for the smoke detector

to rebrand it as a musical instrument.

I then hired local
blues legend Harmonica Greg

to help me create an instructional DVD

that would be included in every box.

Your instrument is pre-tuned to F#,

and you don't want
to mess around with that.

With our DVD and rebranded
packaging complete,

I was hopeful this
would be enough for Customs

to believe it was a real instrument.

But since tariff laws
are incredibly complex,

before moving forward,
I brought my product

to retired California judge
Anthony Filosa

to be sure I was meeting
all the requirements.

It's a smoke detector.

Right, but it's rebranded
as a musical instrument.

And, of course, you're doing
that for what reason, to...

To avoid the tariffs.

After telling Judge Filosa my plan,

he read over the tariff laws

and told me that my work
was far from done.

You've got to prove
to the satisfaction of a court

that this particular thing is accepted

by the general public
as a musical instrument.

- Okay.
- This label proves nothing.

So how would you make
it accepted by the public?

If it's used in a song
that people really recognize,

it's a #1 record, or, you know,
one of these singers...

I knew that rebranding
a smoke detector would be tough,

but I never thought I'd have
to create a hit song

using one of the worst noises

And if I was going to do this,

I'd need some serious musical talent.

So I put up some fliers

announcing open
auditions for a new band.

And later that week, posing
as a big-time record producer,

I opened my doors

to the best of what L.A. had to offer.

All right,
let's see what you got, my man.


♪ Don't look at the clock,
it's deceiving ♪

♪ Everything you are so
dependent on perceiving ♪

♪ The future, fickle
notions of your mind ♪

♪ Dust, creatures of the surf ♪

♪ Always contemplating time
to a saddening extreme ♪

♪ Many of us travel,
sheep without shepherds ♪

♪ And unprepared
for battle to unravel... ♪

The turnout was better than I expected,

and it was clear right away
I was drowning in talent.

♪ Arise, the time is now ♪

So after auditioning
a drummer named Chris

who could really pound the skins

and Jani,
a physically attractive singer,

who had the right kind of ambition...

I mean, on a wider perspective, like,

I want the whole world
to hear what I have to say.

My band was starting to take shape.

This is freedom to me.

But I still needed
to figure out which musician

was best suited
to playing the smoke detector.

So I organized the band's
first rehearsal,

and after watching them jam...

It quickly became clear
the standout talent was Eddie.

He was not only the best musician

but also the best showman.

If anyone could make the smoke
detector work, it was him.

So after rehearsal was over,

I kept Eddie behind
to show him his new instrument.

I can sing, I can play the drums.

This is not an instrument.

It is. It's a blues smoke detector.

No, no.

This is gonna be the thing

that separates us from any other band.


And that means the guy who plays it

is going to be the most famous.

You want to be famous, don't you?



- You do.
- Yeah.

Dazzled by the promise of fame,

Eddie agreed to learn
the blues smoke detector

with the help of our instructional DVD.

The best way to play it

is simply by pressing
the "test" button on the front.


So with Eddie on board,
I spent the next couple days

writing lyrics for
what would hopefully be

our breakthrough single.

And then I called the band
back together

to see what they thought.

So you know when you
really like a girl,

but she won't even
look at you in the eye?

- You know?
- Mmhmm.

This song's, uh, kind of about that.

Sorry, I'm just a little
nervous right now,

because it's, you know, it's personal,

and I'm not the best singer.


♪ When I talk to other
people about you ♪

♪ I say "her" ♪

♪ In my bed rests a pillow ♪

♪ Where you once were ♪

♪ My lips, my hair, my skin, my eyes ♪

♪ When you left me,
it was a big surprise ♪

♪ Maybe one day
I'll wake up on Jupiter ♪

♪ An entire planet, just me and her ♪

The band seemed to like my song...

Thank you. But then Jani said

that he had a song of his own
that he'd been working on.

Through distancing ourselves
from nature,

we've distanced
ourselves from each other,

and the song's kind of based off that.

I like that message.

I mean, we need to respect
like the habitat we live in.

♪ It's time to revolutionize ♪

♪ It's time to revolutionize ♪

♪ We're bringing on
on those orphaned skies ♪

The song was called "Orphaned Skies,"

and after taking a band vote,
they liked his song more.

And that was great,
because the best song won,

and that's what we wanted.

So I told Jani to teach it
to the rest of the band,

with one minor adjustment.

Just so you guys know,
I took Eddie off guitar,

and he's going to be
on smoke detector for this one.

- Smoke detector?
- I know it's a bit weird,

but it's really important this
band has a smoke detector in it.

I think it could be the thing
that maybe makes us stand out.

Do we have to have that one?

- The smoke detector?
- Yes.

I mean, no offense,
but if you guys are good enough,

you should be able
to make it work, right?

♪ It's time to revolutionize ♪

Despite some initial struggles
with the smoke detector,

by the end of the day the song
was sounding surprisingly good.

♪ We're bringing on ♪

♪ Those orphaned skies ♪

And that meant it was time
to take this band

to the next level.

So I hired a photographer

to take some promotional photos

and booked some time
in a recording studio

to officially lay down the tracks.

♪ We're bringing on
those orphaned skies ♪

♪ Bringing on those orphaned skies ♪

Everyone in the studio was digging it,

and I was hopeful "Orphaned
Skies" would become a hit.

But first, our band would need a name.

I have a few. The Banzai Predicament.

What does that mean?

Um... I don't know if it...

it's just kind of like
a juxtaposition of words

I came up with, it... it sounded good.

Now that our band had a name,

I uploaded our song
to iTunes as a digital single.

And I was excited
to get this thing heard,

so I set up a meeting
with the head of programming

at KDAY 93.5 in the hopes
he would put it on the air.

I don't think
that'll make Top 40 Radio.

I couldn't play it. I wouldn't play it.

Is there anything I could do to

if this could get like one play on air,

and see what the response is?

Take the beeping sound out of it.

Okay, yeah. And in that moment,

I realized what I should've
known from the start.

That the music industry
would never accept a song

with a smoke detector in it.

I had failed everyone.

Not only Christy at Byrnes Logistics

but also Jani, whose beautiful song

would never be heard.

But in listening to it more,

I was reminded of the message
behind "Orphaned Skies."

Through distancing ourselves
from nature,

we've distanced
ourselves from each other.

It was about saving the environment.

And that's when it occurred to me

that if I couldn't get
this song on the radio,

perhaps I could get it on the news.

Not far from Los Angeles,

the Shell Oil Company
recently got into trouble

after one of their
pipelines sprung a leak.

For the second time in less
than a year,

a spill response unit
has responded to this

Shell facility outside of Tracy.

So if I could make it seem like

Jani's environmental anthem
was callously stolen by Shell

to use in a PR campaign
at the spill site,

there's a chance the controversy
could ignite a media firestorm

that would get "Orphaned Skies"
and the blues smoke detector

heard by millions.

So to frame Shell for this theft,

I headed five hours north to
the city of Tracy, California

and put up fliers
saying that Shell would be

holding a town hall meeting

to address the community's concerns

about their disastrous oil spills.

And right away, people were interested.

You can see light snacks
and beverages will be provided.

Do you like snacks?

Okay, great.

Now all I needed

was someone to speak at the event

who the public would buy
as a real Shell representative.

And who better to play the part

than someone who actually
believed they worked for Shell?

a short-term position at Shell

in their public relations department.

Once I got a response,
I told the applicant

to meet me on the street corner

outside of Shell's corporate

in Carson, California,

where I was waiting to intercept him,

dressed as a Shell employee.

So we're doing some
construction in the building,

so the interview's actually
gonna take place

on our South campus.

Okay, so just hop in,
and I'll take you over.

Then, I drove him around the corner

to a portable I had installed
in a parking lot nearby.

I told him I was
the Shell Vice President

and that the cameras
were documenting us

because, if he got the job,

he would be
Shell's one millionth employee.

So a big part of working in PR at Shell

is dealing with oil spills,
and we have a lot of them.

- Okay.
- And obviously, no one likes it

when an oil spill happens,
but what most people don't get

is that it's a necessary
and unavoidable part

of doing business.
Yes, I get that totally.

Victor was perfectly suited
to being a Shell employee,

and he performed
extremely well under pressure.

How do you feel when you see

this image of a bird covered in oil?

I feel okay.

I feel all right. I don't feel nothing.

No? That's a good answer.

It looks like a fun day at the beach.

So I offered him the job.

Victor didn't know it,

but his only real purpose
was to help me frame Shell

for the theft of
The Banzai Predicament's music.

So on the day of the town hall event,

I set up in the Tracy Legion Hall,

and before long,
concerned Tracy residents

began to fill the room.

So I checked in with Victor outside

to be sure he was
ready to face the crowd.

I mean, there's been two oil
spills in the past two years,

so I'm sure the town
is a little nervous.

- I'll make you proud.
- Okay.

- I'll take care of everything.
- So with Victor prepared,

he headed inside
to address the local community.

I also want to point out

that this spill right here,

this spill was, like, relatively small.

If you had to have a spill somewhere,

you would want this spill
right here in your town.

I know it's kind of hard for
you to grasp, but it's great.

Yes, sir?

The contaminated soil,
where did you dump that?

From the spill site?

Okay. Thank you, sir,
that was a great question.

The information that I had
made available to me is that

we dumped it in a country far,
far away from here.

Victor did a pretty good job

of answering the community's questions.

And I'd like to conclude now,

by showing you guys a short video.

Thank you. But the only thing

that really mattered for my plan

was a fake Shell commercial I had made

using "Orphaned Skies"
as its soundtrack.

♪ It's time to revolutionize ♪

♪ We're bringing on
those orphaned skies ♪

♪ I-ies ♪

Great, right? Good.

I now had evidence of Shell
stealing the band's song.

You guys have a great evening.

and I'll see you at the pump.

So I anonymously uploaded

my cell phone footage to Youtube,

and then I met up with Jani

in the hopes it would make him
angry enough to fight back.

Did they just take it,
or how did that happen?

I guess they just took it.

I... I don't know,
that's not what I envisioned,

like, the song,
its purpose, you know, being.

If it pisses you off, it pisses me off,

you know what I mean?

That's up, that's like plagiarism.

I really admired Jani,

so it was hard
for me to see him so upset.

I guess artists must just
feel more than the rest of us.

Regardless, I had to move forward.

So I pitched him the idea
of doing a protest performance

in front of a busy Shell gas station

so the whole world could
become aware of this injustice.

No, yeah, definitely.

I think it's a good plan, if we
get it, like, well organized.

And the next day, after
showing the rest of the band

what Shell had done,

it was up to Jani to get
them on board with our plan.

It actually really upsets me

that they would do something like that.

If they're putting our names
on it, then they have to pay us.

I mean personally, I agree with Jani.

I think we gotta do something.

I think we should play.

With the band on board
for our protest performance,

we began preparations for the
showdown with Shell

that would hopefully bring
the blues smoke detector

into the spotlight.

To maximize our chances
of getting media attention,

I had a custom stage hitched
to the back of a tanker truck

filled with gasoline
so the band could give away

free gas throughout their performance,

taking business from the
corporation that took from them.

But the most vital part
of this operation

was the smoke detector,

so before heading out,
I had a quick word with Eddie.

Really show off that baby, okay?

- Okay, no worries.
- Yeah, I want to see

that smoke detector featured.
Yeah, I'll be sure.

Cool. Thanks, man.

Let's do it.


And with that, our tanker
truck was on the move.

Its destination was a busy
Shell station in Hollywood

in the middle of rush hour traffic

and just a block away from
the KTLA news headquarters.

So once the tanker was in place,

the members of The Banzai
Predicament took the stage

and began to play.


Free gas, brother!

Within minutes, a line of cars

- began to form around the block.
- Want a little bit of gas?

And it wasn't long before
the news showed up

to give us the coverage we needed.

All right, the L.A.-based rock band

Banzai Predicament protested
the petroleum giant Shell today

by giving away
a tanker full of gasoline.

The Banzai Predicament band
brought in a filled gas tanker

and began dishing out
free gas to customers

at the Shell gas station

at Sunset Boulevard and Wilton Place

in protest, they say, of
the company's recent oil spills

and the use of their music.

They stole one of our songs
and used it in a commercial,

and so we're out here
giving away free gas.

Free fuel goes a long way

with customers
thankful to not have to pay.

I'm gonna get my free gas,
and I will protest too.

I'll bet you they'll
get a lot of downloads today.

No doubt about that.

Now that the blues smoke detector

had been seen by millions

in the hands of a real rock band,

my instrument
had the legitimacy it needed.

So I could finally return
to Byrnes Logistics

to update Christy on what I had done.

- I see he's using it.
- Yeah.

- I do, yeah.
- Pretty good evidence, huh?

Eh... well,
that's for Customs to decide.

Are you impressed?

No, not really. I mean, you know...

What are you talking about?

He picked up a smoke detector,
and he's using it in a band.

- This was on TV.
- Well...

that's not, you know...
You have to wait and see.

After everything I had done,
Christy was still skeptical,

so to prove her wrong,

I packed up a dozen smoke detectors

to a contact in South America,

noting on the customs form
that we were sending

musical instruments and nothing else.

And a few days later,

I returned to show her
the shipment had arrived.

So the package arrived.

There it is!

And whether she liked it or not,

Christy had to admit
that my plan had worked.

Well, yeah, it's one
small package through FedEx.

They usually get where they're going.

My work with Byrnes Logistics was done,

but there was still one thing
I had to take care of.

Shell saw the protest on the news,

and they feel awful
about what happened.

In pursuing my goal,

I had turned good people
against each other.

The bottom line is, we messed up.

We just wanna make things right,
you know what I mean?

- Right.
- But now it was time

to heal the wounds
and bring them together.

- Hey, how's it going?
- Hello, how you doing?

- Jani.
- My name is Victor Clark.

- Nice to meet you.
- I'm from corporate Shell.

We made a mistake, you know?

We stole your song,
we're sorry we stole it,

but, you know, how these
things happen, I don't know.

Sometimes we just... usually
we hear what sounds the best,

you know, what sounds
the best for our reasons,

and we stole it, and we'd
like to apologize for that.

Yeah, I don't know.

That just doesn't seem like
a good thing,

for a company to like steal something.

Like, the song
was kind of in a different,

like, ideologically, like
in a different realm than...

- Well...
- I think what your company...

Look. I'm a man, I apologize.

Just be a man and accept my apology.

No, yeah, I accept your apology.

That's all I'm asking.
That's all I'm asking.

Yeah, no, apology accepted.

- Apology accepted?
- Yeah.

Thank you. Appreciate you for that.

- Yeah.
- Love your music.

Just don't stop. Hey, thanks.

How's that? You take care,
and have a great day.

- Yeah. See ya.
- You keep that music going.

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