"Souvenir Shop/E.L.A.I.F.F." - Nathan For You Review


Nathan For You
“Souvenir Shop/E.L.A.I.F.F.”
Season 2, Episode 2

Chad White, Unprofessional Johnny Depp Impersonator, Professional Professional

When you visit a popular city such as Los Angeles, you often buy gimmicky little trinkets that show how much fun you had in said city. That’s where souvenir shops come into play. All those crappy knick knacks that you get at the last minute for your nephew come from these overpriced shops. You know that kid will not cherish that $34 license plate with their name on it forever. The only thing that is maybe used are those novelty shot glasses because, you know, free shot glasses.

Nathan Fielder took his business talents to a Hollywood souvenir shop that was having trouble bringing in the customers. Being located in such a bustling area yet generating no foot traffic is pretty lousy for a store. Fielder had an idea that would use the star studded city’s advantage: allow a big talent to shoot a movie at the store. So Fielder hired a professional Johnny Depp impersonator to “shoot” his movie at the store. Fake Depp was supposed to be making a movie based around a hacker that sounds super familiar to a nineties movie.  

What a way to attract a crowd. Fielder allowed gathering customers to come in and purchase items with their own real money as they “shot” a scene. By the end of the whole thing, the people kept the crap they grabbed after their money was taken. All of it came off pretty ingeniously. These people were tricked into buying things thinking they would be a part of a larger production. But what happens when someone wants to return the trinkets? A young woman grabbed over $87 in souvenirs and paid for it but she was not thrilled about it. To make her happy, Fielder allowed her to meet with “Johnny Depp.” She got every piece of merchandise signed so she couldn’t return it all.

Further problems arose when customers began emailing Fielder about when the movie would be released. But in order for them to release the movie, it would have to be recognized as a part of the medium. Movies are considered as such if they are award winners at small festivals. Fielder was rejected from the likes of the big name festivals like Sundance so he created his own called the East LA International Film Festival (E.L.A.I.F.F.). Then he had to get a judge who previously worked in the industry. Now the problem was that he had to make an actual movie out of the customer footage. So, naturally, he wrote a script around the footage that would tie in with the hacker story. They shot pickups with the store’s owner, a Bill Gates impersonator and Fielder even hired a woman to play his fake girlfriend. All in all, the project came out…okay. It was as barebones and straightforward as they could make it.

Should you watch “Souvenir Shop?”

This is probably one of the most interesting episodes Fielder and his team have put out. Real trouble could’ve gone down if they didn’t manage to make something out of nothing. There are so many little nuances that make this episode work in just the right way. It's great to see how far Fielder will go to make these people actually believe that there is going to be a finished product to the movie. 

Nathan For You airs at 10:30 PM Tuesday nights on Comedy Central.