Podcast of the week: Off Menu
Two comics and a guest use food as a lens through which to look at life
James Acaster and Ed Gamble: playful, curious and focused
This concept for an interview podcast is succinct and unique: the shape of a particularly good ice-breaker that invites openness, anecdotes and an insight into the subject’s life. Comics Ed Gamble and James Acaster ask their guests: what is your dream meal? Piece by piece. Starter, main course, side, dessert, drink.
Scroobius Pip, spoken-word performer and poet, is the guest on the maiden episode of this podcast and holds the space and tells stories in a compelling way. Not only are the components of his dream world funny, they’re also extremely relatable and unpretentious. It is possible to talk about food in a descriptive and honest way without it becoming a performance of status. Food is an incredible metaphor for coming of age, a lens through which to look at ourselves. Scroobius Pip here is earnest in his love of pizza – and entirely focused as a guest. The second episode features Grace Dent, the Guardian restaurant critic; hopefully the gender balance continues.
Although Gamble and Acaster’s introduction to the podcast is a little shaky, they’re playful, curious and focused. Occasionally they’ll insert short anecdotes about their own food experiences – what they’ve eaten during break-ups, ice-cream preferences – but they never shift focus from the guest. Their questions come organically and with genuine curiosity – there’s a lovely chemistry here. The podcast is also broken into segment by brief interludes of cooking sounds to break up each course. This structure elevates the pitch of ‘Oh, just two lads having a laugh about food’ to something more deliberate and considered.
I’ve subscribed, which is rare: I’m looking forward to hearing who appears next, and what kind of meals they’ll describe.