If someone told you that you were going to spend a night being harrassed and insulted, with a strong chance of some public humiliation thrown in, and that you were going to pay for the pleasure, you’d think they were mad, right?
Not if you’re a guest at Karen’s Diner.
The unfathomably popular pop-up dining experience returned to The Palm Court in Aberdeen at the weekend, so we had to go along and see what the fuss was all about.
Finding myself in the midst of a bunch of lairy, up-for-anything, seemingly unhinged people who had paid £42 a ticket for exactly that, with the addition of what was, let’s be honest, a pretty mediocre meal, I couldn’t help but wonder how I’d ended up here.
Two hours later when I left with my belly aching and sides splitting with laughter, it all made sense.
Low expectations and a thick skin are essential for a night at Karen’s
I always find that when you go into something with low expectations (and believe me, they were low), it’s then that you end up being the most surprised when you actually end up having a pretty great time.
I’m someone who when it comes to being on the receiving end of a good ribbing, can give as good as I get – an absolute essential if you’re going to throw yourself into the lion’s den that us Karen’s Diner.
There was a definite sense of fight or flight kicking in as we joined the entry queue and witnessed those ahead of us receiving less of a frosty, but more of an outright glacial reception – “I didn’t ask for your name, I asked HOW MANY there are, moron!” complete with dramatic eyeroll.
Luckily no-one chose to bolt, and with drinks starting to flow and laugher in the air, there seemed to be no other option than to buckle up and enjoy the ride.
Jostled into your seats by sour-faced servers who’s whole purpose is to act if they would rather be doing anything anything else than this, food and drinks orders are begrudgingly taken and then the fun starts.
Insults aren’t just yelled in your face, they’re stuck to your head
Everyone knows thanks to Tiktok sensationalism that one of the signature moves when it comes to giving guests a good slagging off at a Karen’s night is to hone in on the cheapest shot you have about a person, whether it be appearance, outfit, or just a gut feeling, and present them with a paper hat of shame for all to see.
Not surprisingly in the slightest, I was the first to have one dished out.
“Even a sniper wouldn’t take me out. #ROUGH”
Unbelievably, guest are completely delighted to receive a hat, and wear them with pride. It almost becomes a game in itself trying to find the most cutting or offensive insult to brandish a forehead in the room, and honestly, it’s hilarious.
Needless to say most of the foul-mouthed insults are completely unmentionable in polite society, but if you’ve seen the videos all over social media, you’ll know that I actually got off quite lightly.
Bang-average diner-style food is the order of the day
If you’ve come to Karen’s on Tour night expecting a fine-dining experience, you can think again.
School dinner style burgers and hotdogs are slopped onto plates with fries, and everyone accepts them for what they are. Stomach-liners to kick off a night of good crack out with pals.
No sooner than my packet-mix looking basket of mac & cheese had been heavy-handedly plonked down in front of me, the playful victimisation at the hands of our glittering yet dour-faced MC for the evening, clad in a pink blazer and black kilt, began.
I got the feeling that no-one was to be safe from his judging eye and scathing tongue, but I had made the unwitting mistake of being the only vegetarian in the room, which made me the first easy target…
I was unceremoniously hauled up to stand in front of the crowd and suffer a quick-witted beat-down, all in the name of being a non meat-eater. Thankfully, like most people in the room, I’m not someone to take myself to seriously, and welcomed the instructed chants of “F**ck off veggie, go eat some grass!” from the entire room each time I dared to leave my seat for the rest of the night.
The wheel spins, madness ensues, and the diners love it
From there on in, the night is a blur of party games and ridicule selected by a spinning wheel, covering everything from reenacting iconic movie scenes (special shout out goes to the two guys who took on the Dirty Dancing lift) to challenging every male in the room to a sexy strut-off. Even if one did end in complete disaster…
Here’s why I loved Karen’s Diner. The people made it.
It’s all about getting into the spirit of things and joining forces with those you are dumped at a long table with to retaliate and rise up against the sassy servers. It’s impossible not to have a good time, belly laugh your way through the night, and leave with a smile on your face.
I even thought I saw a twinkle of a smile peeking through the sternly set faces of the Karen’s at some points, because let’s face it, getting paid to take the micky out of people and have them love it in return must be a pretty fun job.
The Karen’s Diner Tour continues. See where you can find them popping up next here.