One part fly-on-the-wall documentary, one part cook-off, Come Dine With Me (2005-present) capitalizes on persisting audience appetites for neighbourhood voyeurism and culinary competition. Yet, its real pleasures, I suggest here, are comedic ones; and the show's ascension from cult student watch to mainstream success may be due in no small part to its mobilization of incongruity and witty observation, strategies more common to outwardly comedic texts. A recipe of kitchen mishaps, food-related innuendos, alcohol-induced banter, cringeworthy dinner party entertainment, and, most significant, I contend, the voice-over of Dave Lamb - no longer documentary's composed and objective narrator, but excitable and mocking audience avatar - ensures a serving of the distinctly comedic kind. Appropriating Come Dine With Me within the realm of comedy studies, I propose, may usefully intersect and illuminate analyses of reality, lifestyle and food programming, as well as the voice-over.
- observational voice-over