Serious Cooks, Seriously Funny

Graham Kerr -- The Galloping Gourmet

Graham Kerr -- The Galloping Gourmet

Good cooks can take cooking too seriously, mussy fussy. Go back several, okay many, years and that’s not so. When Graham Kerr, The Galloping Gourmet, blithely buttered up audiences with standout recipes, he did so with a wink. Bring back the wink!

In 1970, he was on the Tonight Show, playing a drinking game of sorts with Johnny Carson, who giggled as a cocktail poured, at Kerr’s instruction, from his forehead over his nose and into his mouth.

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In another ep, there were no do-overs but guffaws as the cherries the Galloping Gourmet cooked, well, flambeed in a too-big way. The laugh track ran loud. I can’t wait to share kitschy moments with him and the Two Fat Ladies–a pair of wild-child women who barreled into new places with vim and verve, nothing but smiles.

Whether her style was intentionally comical or not, Julia Child will be on my watchlist, too, garnishing her often messy recipes with witty life wisdom–“I think every woman should have a blowtorch.” Yes, me too. Pith, no oranges needed–just ask Dan Akroyd, who famously mimicked Julia on Saturday Night Live. I doubt she found his send-up anything but amusing. (Decades later and a good bit after her death she comes up time and again; last week Eater lauded Mario Cantone for his hilarious impression of Julia on the Rachael Ray show.)

It’s good to laugh in the kitchen. But it seems like fewer hosts and shows seek being seen as funny–am I missing some (please share)? Cooking–whether modern or retro–can be plenty amusing, and so can flaming cherries and charred chicken and sunk souffles. What’s the harm? Pour a drink over your nose, grab that blowtorch and cook–just for good old-fashioned fun.