Dumb Starbucks Was a Missed Opportunity For Something So Much Better
There are no dumb questions right? OK, let's get yours about Dumb Starbucks, which opened at 1802 Hillhurst Ave. in Los Feliz on Friday, out of the way now.
What was it?
The spot, which uses the exact same logo as Starbucks on its cups and signage save for the word "dumb," has been giving way free coffee and sweets and claiming to be "parody art," and the idea has quickly gotten major media attention all over the country. Before the health department shut it down in the late afternoon, we counted no less than four news cameras there today.
What was it, really?
It's the backdrop for the Comedy Central Show Nathan For You, as L.A. Weekly's news blog has reported, and as the show's star, Nathan Fielder, announced in this YouTube video. Fielder called it a "real business I plan to get rich from."
So, how long was the wait to get in?
As of Monday afternoon, about two hours on average.
Could you buy the travel mugs, french presses, etc. on display?
No. They were props.
How did the "baristas" get their jobs?
Craigslist. The guy working there (with a cool green streak in his hair) said he's worked at both (the real) Starbucks and Coffee Bean in the past.
How did the Drawing Room, the famed dive bar next door, feel about all this?
They don't mind, though business has not increased too much, unless you count use of the bathroom. They will let anyone use it who has to. Man, we love that place!
See also: Inside Dumb Starbucks [PHOTOS]
How was the (free) coffee?
Terrible. "Tastes burnt... . like Starbucks," said one astute patron.
What kind of coffee was it? Really Starbucks?
Well, it was actually Vons, according to the barista with a green streak in his hair whom we consulted.
Why was everyone waiting in line for this thing?
Most were just super curious. Some said for the free coffee. Some wanted to stand behind the perceived anti-corporate statement. Some thought it was an artistic installation of Banksy-esque proportions and they wanted a souvenir cup (for Ebay).
Regardless of what it proved to be, it's totally legit to take Fielder as his earlier word and treat a fictional space that attracts this much foot traffic as a work of "parody art." So what's the statement here?
The concept is kind of awesome. After all, we are all sort of dumb for spending five bucks on coffee. But while they printed up a disclaimer (which is prominently displayed on the counter) about it being a parody, this disclaimer also states that they don't think Starbucks is actually dumb. This comes off as ass-kissy, "don't sue us" precaution. We don't buy it. If you're gonna call something dumb, own it, kids!
And as an "exhibit," Dumb Starbucks was somewhat lacking. We walked in and thought of all the things that this "dumb experience" needed: "dumb" soft rock on the stereo, "dumb" screenwriters and bloggers on their "dumb" laptops" typing away self-consciously... .."dumb" employees - the two kids on duty were really nice and even asked our name spelling before writing it on the cup! But shouldn't they have purposely written it totally wrong, because ya know, they're dumb?
A sort of bizarro world Starbucks where everything we see in the ubiquitous coffee house is turned upside down could be so interesting. Performance artists could even come in and act out the "types" of people you always encounter there. Perhaps some would ...
But now, thanks to the health department, they won't get that chance. With the mystery over, lines down the block, and news crews swarming, not to mention social media all in a tizzy about it, it was only a matter of time before they shut the place down, and sure enough, by 5 p.m. today, they had.
As for Starbucks, they'd previously issued a statement that they were "looking into" this whole matter. They're not dumb, but they're apparently a little late.
Follow Dumb Starbucks on Twitter at @DumbStarbucks.
Get the Theater Newsletter
Get a rundown of upcoming theater events and ticket deals in Los Angeles.