I’d be terrified to operate a restaurant, solely because of Yelp. The slightest mistake can become a highly damaging 1,000-word tirade against a business. Things most diners would never say to a manager—things they’d never even say aloud—come pouring out in prose. And no matter how many times I have the tablecloths bleached, their 1-star review soils the restaurant forever.
Real Actors Read Yelp Reviews is a new project by Joe Plummer of Gotta Kid to Feed Productions. It pairs particularly absurd Yelp reviews (read: entirely typical Yelp reviews) with trained actors. The actors simply read the review on camera, and it’s absolutely hilarious.
The project was inspired by a trip Plummer and his wife took down the West Side Highway of Manhattan. They passed a restaurant in Tribeca called Ponte’s. So Plummer Googled it on his phone. "The first thing to come up was Yelp and so I clicked the link and started reading the reviews out loud to my wife who was driving," he explains." I am not kidding when I say we had to pull the car over because we were laughing so hard. Something about an angry lobster set us off. For the rest of the trip I continued to find restaurants and read the reviews out loud. By the time we arrived where we were going the idea was born."
For only the past three weeks, Plummer has been bringing actors into his studio to film reviews, which have led to hundreds of thousands of hits on YouTube in a meme I think is just getting started. (Plummer plans to film more reviews using multiple actors on location, and has more than one fan request for Christopher Walken’s participation.) But it all begs the question, just why are these so funny? We’ve all read Yelp, and I’d bet we’ve all grown a bit immune to its hedonistic rants. Why are Yelp reviews so exceedingly ridiculous when read aloud?
"What I love about the Internet so much is that the promise of anonymity allows people to be totally themselves—and that isn’t always a good thing. I mean I have read things online—comment strings mostly—that are literally horrifying," he explains. "When we write something or read something it can appear to be totally rational but when it is said out loud it is totally different."
For sure. The biggest kick in the pants about these readings is that they’re not overdramatized—not really—they’re merely capturing the hyperbolic tone with which these reviews were written in the first place. It’s just that, for whatever reason, likening bowel movements to becoming a "human flamethrower" just doesn’t have the same panache in type as it does oral presentation.
[Hat tip: Eater]