Text & Talk

Bloopers and backstage talk on TV cooking shows

by Keri Matwick & Kelsi Matwick (2020)

Television instructional cooking shows provide a platform for discussion around the performance of self, with bloopers and backstage scenes revealing the best qualities of the celebrity chef’s personality despite the risk of face loss. Bloopers are short clips of mistakes that are typically removed from the media narrative. Often embarrassing and humorous, bloopers are moments when the celebrity chef’s performance is flawed with cooking errors or misspoken words. Drawing on Goffman’s concepts of ‘backstage’ and ‘frontstage,’ this paper analyzes bloopers on five American instructional cooking shows: The French Chef with Julia Child, considered one of the first celebrity chefs on television, and four contemporary how-to cooking shows from Food Network. These shows present cases of bloopers that occur in live and edited scenes, during the cooking demonstration, and pre- and post-filming. While a form of backstage discourse, bloopers support frontstage performance by heightening the celebrity chef’s unique attributes. Bloopers provide an outlet for play on frontstage as well.

backstage; frontstage; bloopers; celebrity TV cooking shows; Goffman; self-presentation.


Matwick, Keri / Matwick, Kelsi
Bloopers and backstage talk on TV cooking shows.
In: Text & Talk 40,1 (2020), pp. 49–74.
eISSN 1860-7349 - pISSN 1860-7330


- Keri Matwick received her PhD in linguistics from the University of Florida and is a lecturer at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. Her research interests include media discourse, celebrity chefs, and humor. Address for correspondence: Language and Communication Centre, School of Humanities, College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences, Nanyang Technological University, 14 Nanyang Drive, HSS-02-15, Singapore 637,332, Singapore. Email:
- Kelsi Matwick received her PhD in linguistics from the University of Florida, USA, where she is teaching academic writing and food journalism. Her research interests include spoken and written discourse in popular media. Address for correspondence: 105E Nanyang View, 04-10, Singapore 639,672 Email:

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