Creator / Nardwuar The Human Serviette

http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/220px_nardwuar1_photo_rgb_nr.jpg
Nardwuar the Human Serviette in one of his more subdued moments
Keep on rockin' in the free world, and doot doola doot doo...
Nardwuar the Human Serviette, ending a typical interview

Nardwuar the Human Serviette—usually just "Nardwuar" for short (rhymes with "card bar"), real name John Ruskin, is a media personality and musician from Vancouver, Canada. With his bizarre fashion sense, high-pitched voice and overcaffeinated, childlike personality, he's most well-known for his unique celebrity interviews in which he showers his subjects with gifts and obscure factoids relating to their own lives and careers (especially ones that relate to Canada or Vancouver specifically), more often than not leaving the interviewee completely baffled that he's gone to such effort.

He also sings lead and plays the electric organ with the bands The Evaporators and Thee Goblins, runs a record label, and has hosted a weekly radio show on Vancouver community radio since 1987. He's released two DVD compilations so far of his interviews: Doot Doola Doot Doo... Doot Doo! (2006) and Welcome to My Castle (2007), the latter being a compilation of two low-budget specials he made in 1993 for local TV.

Most of his interviews and other videos can be found on his official YouTube channel or his website.

And it's important to note: Nardwuar isn't a character that John Ruskin plays. As anyone who knows him personally can attest, though he does becomes more animated and enthusiastic when he's on mic, his personality is not an act.


This creator provides examples of:

  • Alter-Ego Acting: Invoked with Thee Goblins (aka Thee Skablins, Thee Dublins or Thee Disgoblins), an Evaporators side project consisting mainly of a drummer ("The Goblin") with Nard ("Thee Goblin") playing quirky tunes on an electric organ. Their stage attire consist of white sheets with eyeholes and ill-fitting marching band sweaters Nardwuar found in a thrift store in Bellingham, Washington.
    • Averted with his main persona; many people assume Nardwuar is a character, but he actually just has a very unique personality.
  • Awesome McCoolname: "Serviette" is what a paper napkin used to be called in Canada (you mostly hear older folks say it nowadays), "Human" is a reference to the song "Human Fly" by The Cramps, and "Nardwuar" is just a nonsense word he made up.
  • Bourgeois Bohemian: He grew up in the affluent suburb of West Vancouver and reportedly races yachts in his spare time.
  • Break the Cutie:
    • When he interviewed Sonic Youth in 1991 they were especially mean to him, making fun of him like schoolyard bullies and deliberately breaking a rare record he gifted to them. In one of the few times he's been genuinely angry on camera, Nardwuar shouted at one of them, "You fucking piece of shit!"
    • When Dave Rowntree of blur began physically intimidating Nardwuar in his interview with the band, Nardwuar kept his cool but seemed genuinely frightened.
  • Canada, Eh?: He's absolutely obsessed with Canadian history and imagery, and is often seen wearing Canadian flag-themed clothing and costumes, the epitome being a "Captain Canada" bodysuit.
  • Catch-Phrase: Several:
    • Most of his interviews end with "Anything you wanna add to the people out there at all?", followed by "Thanks so much [subject], keep on rockin' in the free world, and doot doola doot doo..." to which the interviewee is meant to reply, "...doot doo!" (or something else duosyllabic). "Keep on rockin' in the free world" is a reference to the Neil Young hit of the same name from 1989.
    • Most of his Twitter interactions end with a "doot doo!" as well.
    • He almost always refers to his hometown as "Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada".
    • He shouts "Ba-BOOM!" when an interviewee has just made a good dig or zinger.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: And HOW!
  • Conspiracy Theorist: If the Evaporators' song "Crispy Space Bacon" is to be taken at face value, he apparently believes that astronauts flying to the moon should have been fried by space radiation (he's made reference to this in at least one interview as well).
    • He also wrote papers about the JFK assassination in university, though it's unknown if they subscribe to any conspiracy theories.
  • Coordinated Clothes: The Evaporators always wear matching outfits in their videos and live shows.
  • Cover Version: The Evaporators have an extensive repertoire of cover songs, most of them quite obscure due to Nardwuar's esoteric tastes; they've even covered at least one song that was never released publicly by the original artists: "All the Bad Girls" by Vancouver power pop band The Pointed Sticks.
    • His 2012 record Busy Doing Nothing features several prominent indie rockers covering songs by Vancouver punk and indie bands of years past, including Faud & The Feztones covering The Evaporators themselves!
  • Early Installment Weirdness: Though he's mainly known for interviews with celebrities nowadays, in the late 80s and early 90s he had a penchant for ambushing public figures with bizarre questions and conducting guerilla-style "investigative journalism" (like filming himself trying to track down young Vancouverites who wrote fanmail to a rock fanzine in the 60s, or trick-or-treating at the home of local millionaire Jim Pattison). Many of these can be seen on his DVD Welcome To My Castle, a compilation of low-budget specials he made for local public access TV.
    • In terms of his music, earlier records by The Evaporators were much more dissonant and chaotic than later ones.
  • Hidden Depths: He has a degree in history from the University of British Columbia and wrote papers about the assassination of John F. Kennedy.
    • His mother was the local historian and TV host Olga Ruskin, who fostered in him a fascination with local history. Many Evaporators songs are about British Columbian historical incidents and figures, and he's quick to emphasize even the most tenuous and obscure connections to Vancouver and Canada that his interviewees may have.
    • "Woof Woof, I'm a Goof" is unusually personal for an Evaporators song; it tells how Nardwuar was bullied as a kid and even gives his bullies' names.
  • The Juggernaut: He suffered a brain hemorrhage at the age of 29 and a stroke at the age of 47; his recoveries from both incidents were unusually quick and he was back at work within a few weeks.
  • Long Runner: He's hosted a weekly radio show on the University of British Columbia's community radio station since 1987.
  • Long Title: The on-air title of his radio show is The Nardwuar the Human Serviette Radio Show; it's not excessively long, but he does insist on saying the whole thing every single time he refers to it instead of shortening it. note 
  • Loony Fan: Undoubtedly comes across as this to many of his interviewees.
  • Motor Mouth: No kidding.
  • My Nayme Is: For some reason, Nardwuar writes his catchphrase as "doot doola doot doo" but pronounces it "doot doodle-oot doo".
  • Nice Hat: Nardwuar is almost always seen wearing a tam o' shanter (sort of like a tartan-patterned Scottish beret, with a pom-pom on top). In his early days he often wore a toque (the Canadian term for what Americans call a "beanie") until his was stolen by an angry Sebastian Bach. He doesn't normally wear a hat while playing live in concert because it tends to fall off.
  • Rummage Sale Reject: He has a penchant for wearing tacky and silly-looking clothes even in his everyday life.
    • A recurring part of The Evaporators' live concert is him making a big presentation of putting on huge fur boots and a certain multicoloured shirt.
  • Seriously Scruffy: He says bullies used to throw lit matches into his exceptionally greasy hair when he was a kid, and a few interview subjects have commented on his body odor and bad breath. (Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age in particular said his breath was like "the ass of an apple").
  • Separated by a Common Language: Nardwuar says the idea to call himself a "serviette" comes from an incident when he asked for one to wipe clam chowder off his chin during a trip to the States, forgetting that Americans always call the object in question a "napkin". note 
  • Shave and a Haircut: Invoked with his famous "Doot doola doot doo... doot doo!" catchphrase. It's even the title of his first DVD!
  • Sound-Effect Bleep: The CD version of his compilation record Skookum Chief Powered Teenage Zit Rawk Angst!, to pad out the extra space on the disc, features an entire interview and live session with Nardwuar as part of Thee Goblins on a local Vancouver radio station in 1995. For some reason, the name of the radio station is bleeped out with an organ note every time it's said.
  • Speech Impediment: He has a tendency to turn soft "th" sounds (like in "the") into "d" sounds. He sometimes also lapses into a lateral lisp if he's speaking quickly.
  • Stage Name: There's conflicting reports as to whether "Nardwuar the Human Serviette" is now his legal name or not. Though his birth name John Ruskin isn't really a secret, pretty much no one calls him that; he's been quoted as saying, "Nobody calls Iggy Pop 'James Osterberg' anymore."
  • Student Council President: He was this in high school, and used his position in the student council to book the local indie/punk band Poisoned (featuring Vancouver punk legend Art Bergmann of the Young Canadians) for a school dance; he took the opportunity to conduct his first interview.
  • Swapped Roles: At the end of Nardwuar's second interview with Pharrell Williams, Pharrell turns the tables on Nardwuar and begins interviewing him and showering him with gifts.
  • They Just Dont Get It: Nardwuar sometimes has to go to great lengths to get the interviewee to respond "doot doo" to his "doot doola doot doo" because they don't understand what they're supposed to do.
    • At the end of a phone interview with an already-baffled Tom Petersson of Cheap Trick, Nardwuar tries to get him to say "doot doo" for several minutes; a female listener even called in and demonstrated the "doot doo" response multiple times, and Tom still didn't get it.
  • Trademark Favourite Food: He's a noted fan of the Skookum Chief, a massive hamburger sold at the Aboriginal-themed Tomahawk Barbeque in North Vancouver. In fact, he had to stop eating them so often after he suffered a brain hemmorhage. He filmed the video for the Evaporators song "Hot Dog High" in the restaurant, and they even have his picture up on the wall.
    • He also seems to love clam chowder; he invokes it in both his infamous question to Gerald Ford and in the official description for his radio show. He also claims to have gotten the idea to call himself a "serviette" after going on a trip to the States in his youth and asked for one to wipe clam chowder off his chin.
    • The opening song on The Evaporators album Ripple Rock is "Addicted to Cheese", detailing his love of a certain dairy product.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Though he interviews former Dead Kennedys frontman Jello Biafra seemingly every time he comes through Vancouver and has released records on Jello's label, Jello trolls him every chance he gets and sometimes seems genuinely irritated at him (though given Jello's famously abrasive persona it can be hard to tell how much of it is an act).
    • When Nardwuar needled him with questions about his legal disputes with his former bandmates, Jello quite plainly stated that it was pissing him off.
    • In their second interaction (in which Nardwuar ambushed Jello outside a film screening), he drew all over Nardwuar's face with a marker with mischevious glee. (Nardwuar has claimed that his attempt to wash off the ink later inspired him to write the Evaporators song "I Gotta Rash").
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Creator/NardwuarTheHumanServiette