If Werner Herzog Reviewed Trader Joe’s on Yelp: “Madness Reigns. The First Challenge Your Soul Must Endure Is the Parking Lot”

I like the Internet for various things, but it’s limited. I’m not on social media, but you will find me in the social media. There’s Facebook, there’s Twitters, but it’s all not me.

—Werner Herzog in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter

The night before his 2016 documentary Lo and Behold: Reveries of the Connected World premiered at Sundance, director Werner Herzog declared himself “still a liberated virgin” with regard to his reliance on the Internet:

I think we have to abandon this kind of false security that everything is settled now, that we have so much assistance by digital media and robots and artificial intelligence. At the same time, we overlook how vulnerable all this is, and how we are losing the essentials that make us human. That’s my advice … Cook a meal at least three times a week. Play a musical instrument. Read books and travel on foot.

That said, he’s not immune to the rejuvenating effects of random cat videos at the end of a tiring day, as he told Studio 360’s Kurt Andersen during a promotional visit for 2018’s Meeting Gorbachev:

Perhaps guessing that Googling his own name is not one of Herzog’s preferred online activities, Anderson took the opportunity to hip his guest to comedian Paul F. Tompkins‘ Teutonic-inflected recitation of a notorious Yelp review of Trader Joe’s in Silver Lake.

To the untrained ear, Tompkins’ Herzog is pitch perfect.

The spoof’s subject suggested that the accent could use improvement, but agreed that the text is “very funny.”

And it is, especially given the pedestrian tenor of the same Trader Joe’s other 5-star reviews:

This is the best Trader Joe’s location I’ve been to! Been coming here since I was a kid! (I’m 25 now) I’ve moved out of this area but still come to this location just because it beats the rest of them. – Debbie G

TJ is the best!! I’ve been coming here for many years, and the food is great!! The employee’s are awesome! Some of the many things I love to purchase here are: salmon balls, smoothies like the chia seed strawberry, protein almond butter drinks, coconut smoothie, cashew yogurt, south western salad that comes in a bag is BOMB.COM! – Raymond M

Tompkins tapped Herzog’s fascination with man’s animal nature and the brutality of existence for another Yelp review, awarding three stars to San Francisco’s Hotel Majestic and attributing it to Werner H:

Tompkins clearly savors the opportunity to channel Herzog, logging 16 appearances for the character on the Comedy Bang Bang podcast, including episodes wherein he discusses working with Tom Cruise and his desire to be cast as a clueless suburban husband in an appliance commercial. Find them all listed here.

Related Content:

The Dream-Driven Filmmaking of Werner Herzog: Watch the Video Essay, “The Inner Chronicle of What We Are: Understanding Werner Herzog”

Werner Herzog Creates Required Reading & Movie Viewing Lists for Enrolling in His Film School

Werner Herzog Offers 24 Pieces of Filmmaking and Life Advice

Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine.  Follow her @AyunHalliday.


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  • hinky ballew says:

    Wasn’t this take released awhile ago? And, shortly after discredited. Don’t get me wrong. I love the man, but not enough to scribe a critique of TJS and attribute it to him. I would write one and claim it.

  • Billy Andrews says:

    The parking lot at the Westchester TJs is huge since there’s a Kohls anchoring the strip mall. The locations at National/Westwood or first Santa Monica on Pico have the parking lots that create existential dread in you.

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