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‘Nate – A One Man Show’ Will Make You Feel Again

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Listen, during this pandemic, it’s easy to simultaneously feel like a walking raw nerve who can’t help but be impacted by everything around them and like a numb robot who’s compartmentalizing those pesky ol’ turbulent emotions for later. No matter what category you fall into, Nate – A One Man Show is going to impact and stick with you. This Netflix comedy special produced by Amy Poehler and created by and starring Natalie Palamides is absurd, hilarious, raunchy, and downright confrontational, but ultimately it’s a beautiful reminder of our own humanity and the ridiculousness of everyday life.

In the special, Palamides is Nate Palamino, a manly man who chops wood, has chest hair, and spits whey protein powder into an open flame (all inside of an enclosed indoor theater), but who also has a sensitive side that comes out in the main message of his show: consent. Nate’s somewhat meta one man show is dependent on his impressive stock of props (from a tiny motorbike he uses just twice to a fully functional shower) and his audience’s willingness to participate. So, when he puts his hands out and gets in a woman’s face, asking only when he is inches away from her if he can touch her breasts, he shows the live audience that they’re both just as much a part of the show as he is, himself, and that they don’t have to do anything they don’t want to do, but they’ll probably still be uncomfortable either way (she said “No,” by the way, and Nate promptly backed off… before asking someone else).

Nate is, frankly, impossible to watch without having some sort of reaction. A lot of what we consume these days can be done passively or in the background, where we let our eyes glaze over and at a certain point stop taking in what’s around us, oftentimes just as an attempt to escape the insane reality we live in if only for a second. Palamides offers you no such respite. Her show pulls you in from the get-go and never once shies away from vulgarity or ugliness in physicality, language, and emotions, and that’s what makes it so unique and necessary to view.

There’s a simulated sex scene with a mannequin (featuring incredible vocal and physical work by Palamides to make it honestly feel like there are two people on the stage) that starts funny and gives way to something more serious. There’s Palamides’s state of ever-increasing nudity that becomes so constant, you forget that her breasts are just hanging out until moments like having a poor, sweet man from the audience — with his consent, of course — towel dry Nate off after a quick shower or another male audience member wrestle Nate after it turns out he now seemed to be dating our main man’s ex, Helen.

Photo: Netflix

Considering Nate‘s content, there’s honestly no better time for it than now, not just because of the always-relevant topic of consent, especially in our current era of #MeToo, but also and more simply because of how starved of human interaction and touch this pandemic has us all feeling. Personally, I have fallen into the camp of “suppressing my emotions until a later date” since the coronavirus became a worldwide and inescapable reality in March, but Nate had me letting it all out in a way that was extremely cathartic and long overdue. Seeing people touch (albeit often reluctantly) and interact in such real and often uncomfortable ways in this special honestly made me feel more like a human again just for watching it.

Photo: Netflix

Nate is silly, over-the-top, and absurd in a way that stays true to Palamides’s clowning background and delights viewers, but it is also confrontational, raw, and real in how it forces you to really think about consent and its grey areas, about self-expression (something Nate routinely struggles with), and genuine, messy emotions. Nate isn’t political, it’s better: it’s human. Palamides manages to somehow both exemplify the innate absurdity and goofiness of human beings while also peppering in emotions like rage, discomfort, and sadness, that she as Nate plays so convincingly, the viewers can’t help but feel something too. The shots of the audience are always fascinating, because sometimes people are cracking up, while other times, different members of the same crowd look genuinely uncomfortable or unamused. In either case, all of these people are completely engaged with what’s happening in front of them. This is a show that will stick with you even after the ridiculously quick hour in Nate’s world is up.

Everyone from The Guardian to Vulture to us here at Decider have called out Nate – A One Man Show as a must-watch piece of comedy that sticks out above the rest on a plane all its own among the comedy specials out there streaming right now. So, whether you’re a walking Id or a block of ice when it comes to your emotions right now, Palamides’s incredible show is guaranteed to make you feel something, and whether that’s thoroughly amused or deeply discomfited, you’ll be engrossed and reassured of your own humanity the whole way through.
Watch Nate – A One Man Show on Netflix

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