Created By: GliderGuy on April 1, 2012 Last Edited By: LensLaw on February 28, 2013
Troped

Buffet Buffoonery

Fixed price, unlimited food... sounds ripe for comedy!

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope
"Remember, you have to eat the meat..."
"...to beat the house."
--Fillmore's dad and Fillmore!

The basic idea of the buffet is that, for a fixed price, you can enjoy "all you can eat" from a series of tables and serving platters. This means that there are more and less economical ways to handle a buffet, which of course opens the door for a variety of comedic events:

1. Military-level strategizing over how to eat the most expensive food to get the most for your money, often punctuated by comments about how you have to 'beat the house' or 'avoid the decoys' of cheap items like bread.

2. Rules-lawyering over what 'all you can eat' really means. The restaurant might argue, for instance, that an extra crumb is food the customer didn't eat (and is obligated to pay additional money for). Or they might refuse to let a customer leave until they've really consumed ALL they can eat.

3. Customers going to extremes to eat as much as possible (fasting before going; staying in the buffet for absurd lengths of time, sitting or even standing right in front of the buffet), sometimes even eating all the food and leaving others hungry.

4. The restaurant going broke because the Big Eater showed up.

Rolling Updates

Examples:

Literature
  • In Discworld, the wizards, notorious diners all, are seen to construct elaborate architectural models using celery and lettuce leaves so as to increase the depth of a bowl by up to three times its intended size.

Live-Action TV
  • A skit on Saturday Night Live, possibly one of their "Limits of the Imagination" thriller spoofs, had a couple go to an 'All-you-can-eat' restaurant and be later told "It's not all you CARE TO eat, it's all you CAN eat!" and they look and see the other patrons are being force-fed.
  • On Hill Street Blues, a man sat right in front of the salad bar and refused to leave until he'd 'eaten all he could.'
  • Alan Partridge brings his own (oversized) plate to the buffet.

Music

Newspaper Comics
  • In The City, an old man scoots his chair up to a salad bar and just eats directly from under the sneeze guard. When an employee tells him he can't do that because it's unsanitary, he rejoinds that he paid for it so he can have all he wants!
  • In Foxtrot, Peter clean out an entire buffet, leaving nothing left for his family.
  • Dilbert has done several of these. In one strip, Dogbert and a buffer waiter got into an elaborate argument over whether or not "all you can eat" applies to food that you take but don't eat.
    "Technically, it's all you can eat, not all you DO eat."
    --Dogbert

    • Another Dilbert strip featured Dilbert going out on a date with an obese woman. He tried to take her to a buffet, but she said that she's already been banned for life, presumably for eating too much.
    • And then there's Dilbert's dad. He went to an all-you-can-eat buffet years before, but never left, because he hadn't yet eaten 'all he could eat.'

Standup Comedy

Tabletop Games
  • Used as a side gag in one of the "Grimtooth's Traps" books. Grimtooth commented that he'd gone to a diner for their all-you-can-eat elf special, and was told after his first plate "you've had your elf, that's all you can eat!".

Web Comics
  • In The Whiteboard it's stated that the Chinese restaurant Pirta used to work for had to discontinue their buffet due to Doc eating a whole Tibetan Yak's worth every time he went.

Western Animation
  • In Fillmore!, Fillmore and his dad strategize about which foods to eat to get the most value for money.
  • In The Simpsons, an all-you-can-eat seafood buffet flounders once Homer shows up and eats for hours. The guy in charge, Captain Macallister, has Homer thrown out, leading to a lawsuit. In the end, the owner just charges people to watch in horror as Homer eats endlessly.
    • Homer does it again in the episode when he helps redecorate Moe's bar.
  • In The Twelve Tasks of Asterix, one of the tasks is to finish a meal cooked by Calorofix the Belgian, a chef famous for making meals for the Titans. Obelix cleans him out and is still hungry.
  • In one episode of Garfield and Friends, Garfield goes to the buffet, and after eating everything, the owner cries about how he's been wiped out. Garfield complains, "False advertising. You didn't have all I could eat." Then he hopes that the owner will restock before dinner time since he's still hungry. Later on, Jon tries to take him and Odie to the buffet for dinner, but Garfield is banned and has to sneak in.
  • A Family Guy gag features Brittney Spears rapidly consuming a comically large amount of food at a buffet, including standing right by the serving tables instead of sitting down, while her hapless dietician completely fails to stop her.

Real Life

Community Feedback Replies: 26
  • Needs examples, I will tag it.
  • April 1, 2012
    dyson88
    I'd been thinking this needed to be added for a long time.

    In one episode of Garfield And Friends, Garfield goes to the buffet, and after eating everything, the owner cries about how he's been wiped out. Garfield complains, "False advertising. You didn't have all I could eat." Then he hopes that the owner will restock before dinner time since he's still hungry. Later on, Jon tries to take him and Odie to the buffet for dinner, but Garfield is banned and has to sneak in.

  • April 1, 2012
    randomsurfer
    Oh jeez, I remember a comic in an alternative newspaper years ago where the restaurant wouldn't let a customer out because he didn't eat all he could. Don't remember what strip it was though. Possibly The City by Derf, or Phoebe and the Pigeon People.

    I do remember another on-topic The City, which claimed to be a true story. An old man scoots his chair up to a salad bar and just eats directly from under the sneeze guard. When an employee tells him he can't do that because it's unsanitary, he rejoinds that he paid for it so he can have all he wants!
  • April 2, 2012
    Alvin
    ^I seem to remember something like the The City example on an episode of Hill Street Blues. Also Live-Action TV: A skit on Saturday Night Live, possibly one of their "Limits of the Imagination" thriller spoofs, had a couple go to an 'All-you-can-eat' restaurant and be later told "It's not all you CARE TO eat, it's all you CAN eat!" and they look and see the other patrons are being force-fed. Were spoilers necessary?
  • April 2, 2012
    randomsurfer
    Please don't link the newspaper comic The City example to The City. That's a trope index. The City doesn't have a page here, and if it did it'd be at ComicStrip.The City.
  • April 2, 2012
    GliderGuy
    Took out the Pot Hole.
  • April 2, 2012
    JonnyB
    John Pinette's stand-up routine, "Chinese Buffet."
  • April 3, 2012
    StevenT
    Western Animation
    • In The Twelve Tasks of Asterix, one of the tasks is to finish a meal cooked by Calorofix the Belgian, a chef famous for making meals for the Titans. Obelix cleans him out and is still hungry.
  • April 3, 2012
    Antigone3
    Used as a side gag in one of the "Grimtooth's Traps" books (which I really need to do a works page for, but I digress). Grimtooth commented that he'd gone to a diner for their all-you-can-eat elf special, and was told after his first plate "you've had your elf, that's all you can eat!".
  • April 3, 2012
    Alvin
    Hi, I looked at the top and I think you misunderstood my Hill Street Blues example; it's not like my Saturday Night Live example, it's like ramdomsurfer's The City example; a guy sat down right in front of the salad bar and refused to leave until he was full, so the cops got called on him.
  • April 5, 2012
    GliderGuy
    Updated, and fixed the Hill Street Blues example.
  • April 5, 2012
    sigh824
    Music: Fatboys-"All You Can Eat" Case in point.
  • April 7, 2012
    Alvin
    ^^Thanks.
  • April 10, 2012
    mdulwich
    Alan Partridge brings his own (oversized) plate to the buffet.
  • October 30, 2012
    RachmaninovRocks
    There's at least one more Simpsons example, of the 'strategic plotting' variety, in the episode where Homer funds Moe's refinancing/redesign of his bar.
  • October 30, 2012
    Frank75
    The guy in the first link claims that he once ate 73 pounds of food in a session. I can't really believe that.
  • October 30, 2012
    Astaroth
    According to the BBC, two diners have been banned from an all-you-can-eat restaurant in Brighton. The diners have accused the restaurant of not living up to its policy, while the owner claims they were banned for being rude to other customers.
  • October 30, 2012
    Frank75
    After reading these two articles, I feel reminded of ancient Roman decadence. Like in this entry, from Literature: "In Plautus's plays, table-companions (a peculiar Roman institution, also called "parasites") are played as comically large eaters, making this Older Than Feudalism."
  • October 30, 2012
    Frank75
    Finally, this joke about a couple in a restaurant. When the husband returns with a full plate from the buffet, which is his sixth one:

    Wife: "Aren't you ashamed? Don't you care what the people will think about you?"
    Husband: "Why about me? I tell everyone it's for you!"

  • October 30, 2012
    zarpaulus
    Web Comics
    • In The Whiteboard it's stated that the Chinese restaurant Pirta used to work for had to discontinue their buffet due to Doc eating a whole Tibetan Yak's worth every time he went.
  • October 31, 2012
    AgProv
    Literature: in the Discworld, the wizards, notorious diners all, are seen to construct elaborate architectural models using celery and lettuce leaves so as to increase the depth of a bowl by up to three times its intended size.
  • February 15, 2013
    Frank75
    Bump.

    There's a joke in the German-speaking parts of the internet written in the style of a newsletter for the employees, about the coming christmas party. It contains several rules, among them:

    1. Don't put your chair right next to the buffet. And we don't allow the excuse "But then Herr Meier will eat all the honeydew melon!" either.

    BTW, we have five hats, so you may launch this.
  • February 27, 2013
    dvorak
    One Archie story has Jughead banned from an all-you-can-eat joint for stacking his plate a full foot high (To clarify, he's told not to come back, presumably to avoid a lawsuit).
  • February 27, 2013
    Frank75
    We have five hats, and it's Up For Grabs. If noone else does it, I'll launch it next week.
  • February 28, 2013
    blueflame724
    Teen Titans: Trouble In Tokyo: Cyborg ends up eating so much that he frustrates the chef into making him leave. The chef later returns in the end of the movie only to reward Cyborg.
  • February 28, 2013
    Djanchorhead
    Not sure if this counts but in Luigis Mansion. The game boy horror entry for one of the ghosts Mr Luggs mentions that he ate himself to death at a all you can eat buffet,But still wasn't satisfied
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=awlu2vqz63huivx6zi3vfn99&trope=BuffetBuffoonery