Can you spot a liar? Maybe their cheeks are flushed, their breathing is too fast or their nose starts growing longer before your eyes. But what if the lie is online? Fake news, fake reviews, deep fake videos. It’s so hard to know what’s real anymore.
You may remember the guy in London who got his restaurant to the number one spot on TripAdvisor (out of about 40,000). A great achievement, especially as the restaurant didn’t even exist. He made the whole thing up.
This is nothing new. In 1961, Broadway producer David Merrick had a show called Subways Are For Sleeping. He knew it wasn’t very good so he got a copy of the New York City phone book and called people with the same names as all the critics. “Listen, I’m David Merrick, would you like to come and see my show?” “Well yes that would be lovely!” So after the show he said, “What did you think?” and they said, “We loved it!” “Fantastic!” and he took ads out saying “Clive Barnes loves Subways Are For Sleeping!” That’s why to this day when you see a review it has to say the name of the newspaper.
Meanwhile, in the West End, playwright Lloyd Evans, who co-wrote A Right Royal Farce edited a review which said “[the pair] fancy themselves God’s gift to comedy” to read simply, “God’s gift to comedy”.
There used to be a great restaurant in Chicago called Jilly’s. Their marquee quoted Sinatra calling it “The best steakhouse in town…” The dot, dot, dot always seemed suspicious to me. What else had Frank said? “The best steakhouse in town… is down the road from this disaster.” We’ll never know.
All my Christmas show are on sale and are already selling out. Do come if you can. Michael Feinstein once kindly said, “I can count the number of great contemporary singers of pop standards on one hand. Gary Williams is indeed part of the pantheon.” And that was the real Michael Feinstein, not a dentist I found in the phone book.