An audience with Nardwuar the Human Serviette

Vancouver’s legendary music reporter, Nardwuar the Human Serviette, graced UBC students with his presence at CiTR. “Nardwuar’s Video Vault” was an event showcasing video clips from Nardwuar’s prolific career in interviewing musicians and politicians as well as Nardwuar himself speaking about his career. The event was free, open to all and offered a bevy of weirdness that was uncharacteristic of the usual day-to-day happenings at UBC. 

For those of you unfamiliar with the quirky workings of Nardwuar, simply imagine a short, middle-aged man with long, scraggly dark hair and attire straight out of a Wes Anderson film. His voice is unusually high-pitched. He sports large-framed glasses, a signature tartan hat and tartan pants as well. Embedded within this art project of a man is an Energizer Bunny who seems to never run out of energy – ever. 

As a prominent music journalist based out of Vancouver, Nardwuar conducts interviews with just about everyone he can get to talk into his microphone. His interview style is characterized by his extensive research, his peculiar gifts that he gives to interviewees and his hyperbolic personality. As a MuchMusic host, Nardwuar reigned in the heydays of the 90s music scene and maintains a consistently firm grip on Vancouver’s pop culture scene. 

The event took place outside just outside of CiTR’s space in the new SUB and lasted about an hour and a half. There were always about 50 people present as viewers were able to come and go as they pleased. Nardwuar began the event by telling a humorous narrative about his run-ins with Courtney Love, the lead singer of Hole and Kurt Cobain’s wife at the time. 

“Nardwuar’s Video Vault” was somewhat of an ode to Nardwuar’s humble beginnings at CiTR and UBC. CiTR is UBC’s on-campus radio station which offers alternative programming to the Greater Vancouver Area. Nardwuar began his career in music journalism at the station and still hosts a show at CiTR every Friday from 3:30 to 5 p.m. Throughout the event, he consistently encouraged people to become involved with CiTR and Discorder Magazine (CiTR’s affiliated music magazine). 

At one point, Nardwuar stated that CiTR saved his life. When he was 31 years old, he suffered a brain hemorrhage which had him hospitalized in critical care. He thanked CiTR for their support during this difficult time. It was at this point in the event that it became evidently clear that Nardwuar is infinitely passionate about what he does and stops at nothing to bring forth new and exciting programming to viewers. 

In one clip, Damon Albarn of Blur asks Nardwuar why he calls himself a Human Serviette. Nardwuar casually responds by saying, “Because I help serve the youth.”

Beyond Nardwuar’s unique humour lies a man who has been criticized and undermined by mass media for his comedic and light-hearted approach to interviews. In one portion of the event dubbed “Nard Danger,” the audience was exposed to moments of Nardwuar confronting the nasty side of the media. In one clip, we see him being bullied by David from Blur. David takes Nardwuar’s hat and glasses and torments him. In another clip, we see Nardwuar being dragged away by Stephen Harper’s security team after asking Harper to do the “Hip Flip.” It should be noted that every other prominent politician agreed to the “Hip Flip” including Justin Trudeau and Thomas Mulcair. 

One of the central dogmas to Nardwuar’s interviews is the reception that interviewees have to Nardwuar himself. Nardwuar conducts his interviews as such that the gut reactions to his antics become central to the interview. Because really, who isn’t struck by someone who refers to themselves as a Human Serviette?

Doot Doola Doot Doo. Doot Doo.