In anticipation of the debut of Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution (Friday nights, ABC, 8 PM), the British chef conducted the usual talk-show rounds this week to drum up publicity.
On Tuesday, he had his own segment — just short of seven minutes — with David Letterman. A very grouchy, stand-offish, rude, condescending, dismissive, and uninterested David Letterman.
The segment immediately took a nosedive into a C-list cliff when David Letterman conjured up Kirstie Alley’s name (you know, she of “my only claim to fame for the past five years has been gaining and losing weight while raking in millions”), in the name of “demonstrating” just how hard it can be to lose weight.
In light of the hard work Jamie Oliver and his team put in while visiting West Virginia to improve nutrition status, especially among schoolchildren, the Kirstie Alley reference — especially using her as a supposed benchmark or representative of American health — was most unfitting.
While Jamie Oliver futilely attempted to explain the concept of his show, Mr. Letterman opted to avoid eye-contact, shake his head, roll his eyes whenever the audience applauded for Mr. Oliver, and stubbornly state that “after five or six, ten or 20 years of trying to lose weight, there is nothing in this culture you can do to lose weight short of medication.”
Buried somewhere in his Debbie Downer speech, Mr. Letterman had a valid point — that unhealthy food is super-accessible and affordable in “American” culture.
However, the leap from that to “diet pills are the only answer” is reductionist and leaves out a multitude of relevant factors.
Letterman then went on a painfully unfunny rant about how, if weight loss is the ultimate goal, people should simply go to a doctor to get pills.
Later, in a cringeworthy tip-of-the-hat to the “those damn forners!” crowd, Letterman claimed that Jamie’s imported food revolution would go over as well on this side of the Atlantic as the metric system and soccer. By the by, has Letterman heard of a little British import known as American Idol? I digress…
Continuing with the trotted-out-for-the-last-three-decades “funny” material about healthy eating, Letterman equated nutrition to consuming “ground-up seagrass or wheat germ or whatever you find in your pocket” and followed Jamie’s enthusiastic pitch about the show with a dour statement about how, when a supermarket offers you 150 types of cookies, “what hope do you have?”
I understand Letterman’s talk-show is comedy based (at least, in theory), but I don’t find smug digs, anemic hosting, or presumptuousness comical. If anything, the segment demonstrated how ignorance stifles conversation and debate.
Thank you to Jenn DiSanto for informing me of Jamie’s visit to The Late Show with David Letterman.