Down the rabbit hole

Published date13 September 2022
Publication titleSignal
PRACTICE, it’s said, makes perfect. However, when it comes to the big moments in life — troubling confessions, difficult conversations or childraising, say — you only get one shot to get it right. But what if you could rehearse these big moments in advance? To identify, work through and eliminate all the potential variables that could go wrong in an effort to make sure such monumentally important events go according to plan

This is the concept behind comedian Nathan Fielder’s new series The Rehearsal. Fielder came to prominence with his quasi-reality show Nathan for You. This saw the comedian playing an exaggerated version of himself and posing as a business guru who ‘‘helped’’ struggling business owners get back on track with audaciously bizarre and elaborate plans that were, without fail, absolutely terrible ideas.

The Rehearsal can be likened to being Nathan for You only for life problems. However, as the docu-series goes on it almost becomes Nathan for Nathan, as Fielder inserts himself into a multi-episodic rehearsal and proceeds to have something of an existential crisis as he attempts to work his way through it.

It all starts off innocently enough when the socially awkward Fielder agrees to help Kor, a teacher and pub quiz enthusiast, come clean to Tricia, a member of his quiz team, about a lie he’s been living.

To this end, Fielder perfectly re-creates the bar where the quiz is held and begins running Kor through simulations of how the confession may pan out, with actors playing various roles. Nothing is left to chance, from the table Kor and Tricia will sit at, to the drinks he’ll order them and even Kor’s greeting and topics of conversation he’ll introduce before the big moment.

As Kor runs through the confession time and time again, trying different ways of saying the same thing or troubleshooting things like Tricia interrupting him or what to do if people are sitting at his table; Fielder hovers in the background, his now much-meme’d laptop holster strapping his computer to his chest, as he evaluates and reconsiders how Kor should react as situations arise.

It’s incredibly funny, even as it pushes cringe humour into whole new levels of uncomfortableness. The show invites you to laugh at Kor’s cluelessness as he bumbles his way through Fielder’s labyrinthine rehearsal plans, but also leaves you feeling bad about it. Kor’s an odd dude who exceeds Fielder for social awkwardness. Only Fielder is playing a part and Kor isn’t.

Unless, maybe, he is?


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