Nathan Fielder’s latest HBO venture has gotten some rave reviews from critics and fans alike following its debut this month. And buzz for The Rehearsal has actually given new attention to some of his oldest work for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
Before he became a star on Comedy Central, the Canadian comedian was a writer and performer up north. And that included a short stint on the CBC mock news program This Hour Has 22 Minutes. From 2008-09, Fielder developed an On Your Side segment where he interviewed unassuming people and asked them, well, basically the things that Fielder became known for on shows like Nathan For You and The Rehearsal. And that includes a moment that’s gained new attention in the wake of The Rehearsal’s debut: interviewing the president of the CBC while working for the CBC.
In the segment, which you can watch above, Fielder sits down with the president of the CBC, Hubert Lacroix. And though it was filmed more than a decade ago, the segment has all the hallmarks of Fielder’s interviewing genius. Including the fact that he refuses to break character as things get weirder and more uncomfortable.
It starts with a strained anecdote about how the network is taxpayer funded, and if you don’t like what’s being broadcast you may as well dump money into a toilet and flush. Something like that. Then the interview starts, with Fielder tossing a softball about the purpose of the network itself. Lacroix gives a decent answer, mentioning a desire to show off more Canadian-based programing. But Fielder then follows with a very specific question about his own work on This Hour Has 22 Minutes.
“Like, for example, what do you think of what I do?” Fielder asks.
And here’s where things change. Lacroix thinks he’s in on the joke, sarcastically saying “without you the CBC wouldn’t exist.” But Fielder presses him even more, asking specifically what his favorite interview his been, even after praising This Hour and its specific style of humor. It’s clear that while Lacroix knows what the show is supposed to be, he’s not the biggest fan in the world. And even though he’s in charge of the network the interview will air on, he’s definitely not in charge of this interview.
“Every person sitting in my chair right now must be wondering ‘OK, how am I going to deal with this?’ because obviously you’re very good at what you do,” Lacroix said, avoiding the question once again. Lacroix clearly knows what the show is supposed to be, but he’s not familiar enough with it to name a single person Fielder has interviewed. By the end of the interview, the company’s president is basically pleading with Fielder to make things less awkward. But all he says, with a slight smile, is “just name one.”
It’s worth noting that Fielder didn’t work for CBC very long after this interview, but it probably has nothing to do with any consequences for making the company’s president look foolish. Thankfully he was destined for bigger, less Canadian things on Comedy Central and beyond.