Sunday, February 3, 2013

Bourdain as narrator

From the beginning, Anthony Bourdain's unique cadences as a narrator on his show No Reservations caught my ear. They were off-putting at first, but as with almost everything, custom eventually reconciled me.

In his other (and presumably final) series for Travel Channel, The Layover, the production team has switched up the rhythms a little, and it seems he has followed suit in his voiceover. I'm not sure it's conscious, though, because the direction he has started to follow is even more off-putting. Bourdain has started to sound ... almost ... Shatneresque ... in his ... pauses.

Bourdain's appeal supposedly lies in his seeming naturalness in front of the camera: the audience gets the sense that he is being himself. You'd think by now, a decade or so into his TV career, he would have figured out how to sound that way, too. Yet he still comes off as self-conscious and ill at ease when he speaks, even when he isn't narrating. It just goes to show, I guess, that narration isn't as easy as it sounds.

Or perhaps he is a lot more camera-conscious, in speech and appearance, than we think.

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