Ability to entertainingly ad-lib a must for TV food show hosts

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Piolo Pascual

The “foodie travel” show, “The Crawl” on Lifestyle, has had a hard time getting its ambulantly peripatetic, gustatory act together.

First time around, Piolo Pascual was tapped to do the hosting and food-tasting honors. His looks and popularity made him a “logical” choice, but he turned out to be too shy, laid-back and insufficient as an entertaining ad-libber to keep things humming.

Later, Piolo’s son, Iñigo, joined him to make the show appeal more to a younger viewership, but he was similarly limited.

Now comes Matteo Guidicelli, who recently took viewers to South Korea, with Ria Atayde in tow, to sample all sorts of local delicacies and food-on-the-run. How did he fare as a foodie show host? Uh, not much better.

He was livelier and younger than Piolo, but his ad-libs were still on the sticky side, not as effervescent and cheeky as the program type appears to expect and require.

Matteo also tended to repeat some standard spiel transitions too often, which hints at a possible limitation in terms of creative narration and the ability to banter.

Matteo Guidicelli

Other foodie show hosts we’ve watched in antic action on similar programs elsewhere are more expressive, colorful, comfortable in the language, idiosyncratic, and are major food lovers.

They don’t just enjoy a meal, they love to savor, masticate and talk about it in delighted and thus delightful terms that make viewers feel like they’re virtually tasting the meal along with them—yum!

Perhaps the problem is the production’s preference for popular stars as hosts. Yes, it assumes a measure of viewership and photogenic visuals—but, if the star isn’t a great and fun ad-libber, the viewing experience isn’t as empathetically delicious.

So, we suggest that other editions of “The Crawl” should put “ability to entertainingly ad-lib” at the top of their list of casting “musts,” right up there with “popularity,” “looks” and “star value.”

The food and visuals may be great, but if the hosting is less than effervescent, articulate and fun, there’s a disconnect—and the disparity shows and tells on the production.

Who would fill the bill better among our local luminaries? If the host has to be male, talents we’ve heard speaking English relatively well and thus can be expected to be more confident than some in ad-libbing in that language include: Edu Manzano, Martin Nievera, Billy Crawford, Audie Gemora, Atom Araullo, Ogie Alcasid, Alfred Vargas, Sam Milby, Mo Twister, Robert Seña, Miguel Faustmann, Leo Rialp, Markki Stroem, Tirso Cruz III, Ronaldo Valdez, Ronnie Ricketts, Bernardo Bernardo, Drew Arellano, Paolo Bediones, Boy Abunda, Marc Abaya, Bodjie Pascua, Jamie Wilson, Jojo Alejar, plus some singers and veejays.

Perhaps some of them could do a better job? In addition, we hope that “The Crawl” could consider some female prospects, and thus have an even better chance of coming up with the best combination of star value, looks, popularity, charisma, ad-libbing ability in English, and a real passion for the best culinary creativity and food culture.

Like, we’d love to go food-crawling with Tessie Tomas, Mitch Valdes, Zsa Zsa Padilla, Angelica Panganiban, Nikki Ross, Vilma Santos, Bea Alonzo, Cacai Bautista, Ces Quesada, Charo Santos, Pilar Pilapil, Dawn Zulueta, Denise Laurel, Miriam Quiambao, Dina Bonnevie, Eugene Domingo, Tetchie Agbayani, Eula Valdes, Angel Aquino, Tippy Dos Santos, Francine Prieto, Heart Evangelista, Jackie Lou Blanco, Mikee Cojuangco, Isabel Rivas, Gelli de Belen, Zia Quizon, Pinky Marquez, Joyce Jimenez, Cris Villonco and Monique Wilson—wouldn’t you?

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