Canadian comedian opens a coffee shop called Dumb Starbucks; could go to jail
Vancouver comedian Nathan Fielder made headlines earlier in the week when he opened a coffee shop called Dumb Starbucks in a Los Angeles strip mall. Everything about the place looked identical to a Starbucks outlet—from the circular logo to the menu—except for the addition of the word “Dumb.” The attention-grabbing gag worked: people lined up for hours to sample Dumb Frappucinos and Dumb Iced Coffees, and the story was reported around the world.
Now it looks like the price for insta-fame might be pretty steep. Fielder casually revealed on Jimmy Kimmel Tuesday night that he may, in fact, be facing jail time for the stunt. While the use of Starbucks’ name and logo is apparently legal under “parody law,” serving mediocre coffee and store-bought baked goods without the proper health permits is not. Just days after opening, the Los Feliz shop was shut down by L.A. police. Fielder’s defense for operating without permits? He claims Dumb Starbucks isn’t a real coffee shop, it’s an art gallery. “What they don’t understand is that legally, we are an art gallery and the coffee we are selling is considered the art, and galleries don’t need health permits.”
Unfortunately for Fielder, the Health Board doesn’t see it that way. He met with the board on Tuesday, and discovered that the penalty for serving food without permits is actually pretty harsh. “I really just found this out that the penalty is up to six months in jail—so we are trying to be very nice to them,” he told Kimmel. Either way, Fielder doesn’t seem too concerned. In fact, he’s already looking at expanding the franchise. The video promo for Dumb Starbucks is embedded above, and Fielder’s Jimmy Kimmel appearance is below.