February 11, 2014

"Many of you probably know me as a comedian... but this is a real business I plan to get rich from..."



"The owner of a parody coffee shop in Los Angeles called 'Dumb Starbucks' has been revealed to be Canadian television comedy personality Nathan Fielder."

"We are evaluating next steps and while we appreciate the humour, they cannot use our name, which is a protected trademark," a Starbucks spokesperson said in a statement.
Part of the comedy is this straightfaced assertion about law: "By adding the word dumb, we are legally allowed to use the coveted Starbucks name and logo, because we've fulfilled the minimum requirements to be considered a parody under U.S. law." That's transcribed from the video. What I like about this is that the comedian is making fun of law, and he's also perplexing Starbucks, which probably doesn't want the image of humorless and litigious. But I guess they have to protect their trademark. I predict quiet arrangements and Fielder closing down the place with no consequences. He's actually helping Starbucks, and I assume Starbucks wants whatever good can come of this, while squelching the bad.

By the way, in the video, doesn't the exterior shot of the place, showing the strip mall, look like where Saul Goodman had his law offices on "Breaking Bad"?

24 comments:

rehajm said...

Is the is the same Canadian comedian that brought us Occupy Wall Street? Is this another form of destructive performance art foisted upon the United States by our intellectually superior neighbors to the north?

Pat said...

Gosh I miss Saul.

madAsHell said...

Sheriff Bart held himself hostage.
Starbucks is held hostage by parody.

What are the consequences of just ignoring him, and letting the joke die?
Could Starbucks lose control of some aspect of your trademark?
If you pay him to go away, then it just encourages copy-cats.

Jim said...

LA Health Inspectors came in and shut the place down for operating without a license a few hours later.

surfed said...

Dollar to Sunday says they're in cahoots with each other.

mccullough said...

Both Starbucks and this comedian suck.

n.n said...

In a simpler time, they called it extortion. There were few people who laughed. Most people thought it was dumb and set a bad precedent.

Speaking of rackets...

Businesses must certify under penalty of perjury that job cuts aren’t Obamacare dodge

Dumb Obamacare.

Will Cate said...

I think it was pretty clever. He knew it was a gag with a short life-span, and he totally committed to the bit. That's key in comedy.

Joe said...

There is a difference between copyright and trademark which this alleged comedian fails to understand.

duntov283 said...

The drinkers of coffee, they are missing something in their lives they believe is to be found in cups of hot, bitter liquid.

rcocean said...

Starbucks sucks. Really. There a standing confirmation of the statement:

No one ever went broke underestimating the taste of the American public.

PBandJ_LeDouanier said...

I thought Althouse was against "Breaking Bad" because it was some sort of unfair characterization of certain men...or something like that.

It's nice to see she's lightened up.

PBandJ_LeDouanier said...

"Starbucks sucks."

Blathering about how Starbucks sucks is lame, imho.

As best as can tell, you can travel the world and they'll dependably provide great wifi, and they'll almost always provide a clean restroom.

That doesn't suck.

EDH said...

Is this guy's comedic personae that of a dork?

Smilin' Jack said...

"The owner of a parody coffee shop in Los Angeles called 'Dumb Starbucks' has been revealed to be Canadian television comedy personality Nathan Fielder."
"We are evaluating next steps and while we appreciate the humour, they cannot use our name, which is a protected trademark," a Starbucks spokesperson said in a statement.


An essential element of having a sense of humor is an ability to distinguish what is funny from what is merely stupid. Since Canadians cannot even spell the word "humor" it's not too surprising that they have no sense of it.

rcocean said...

"Blathering about how Starbucks sucks is lame, imho."

And blathering about how Lame anyone attacking Starbucks is... is even more lame.

Their coffee sucks. And people who drink their coffee for "clean restrooms" are even bigger tasteless drones than the average SB customer.

Revenant said...

The only people who are going to get rich off of this stunt are the lawyers.

Revenant said...

Their coffee sucks.

It has caffeine in it and thus, by definition, is everything coffee needs to be.

Kirk Parker said...

This stunt may escape being declared illegal under US law, but it commits a far greater crime: it's not funny.

Carl Pham said...

Er...I don't think there's a parody exception to trademark law. I expect he's going to need to pay his lawyers in advance.

Also...who says being litigious equates to being humorless? Actually, I think it would be hilarious for Starbucks to sue him into destitution. Take his pension, foreclose on his house, turn him into the street. I love the idea of a wise-ass slacker performance artiste stripped and ruined, standing there in his undershirt with his red blobby nose all askew and no smile at all through the greasepaint. Hey! Guys...this really isn't funny...honestly...it's not funny at all...oh dear...

Pay per view! Ryan Seacrest should host the trial coverage on cable, with occasional palpable bitchery by Nancy Grace.

James said...

Is this how grown men parody nowadays?

Beldar said...

If Dumb Starbucks ever had legal counsel, they were from the firm proudly known as Dumb Lawyers.

This falls into the category of stunts wherein the responsible party has made a speculative calculation that the substantial legal costs which are certain, and the substantial legal costs which are contingent but likely, are far exceeded by the value of the publicity obtained — a calculus that Prof. Althouse, and we all, are helping validate.

Gene said...

As steven jobs might have said, this is an insanely dumb story. There is nothing about this prank that has any wit whatsoever. Why any reporter would think this is worth writing about is beyond me.

Ann Althouse said...

"If Dumb Starbucks ever had legal counsel, they were from the firm proudly known as Dumb Lawyers…."

"There is nothing about this prank that has any wit whatsoever…."

This is the point! It is dumb all the way through. The law is dumb, the idea of dumb. It is complete dumbness.

If it's comedy, it's the comedy of being actually flatfootedly dumb.

It's a kind of hipster comedy. It's not trying to be good. It's okay with bad. It's complacency with an innocuous, weak badness is what is potentially amusing.

If you are not amused, it doesn't even matter.

Nothing matters. It's a wonder we can even feed (and hydrate) ourselves.