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Anthony Bourdain at Royce Hall: Crispy on the Outside, Smooth and Creamy on the Inside

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Royce Hall was packed to the gills Thursday for Anthony Bourdain's book signing and speaking tour. Really, his lecture was more like stand-up comedy, with his acerbic wit with razor-sharp observations. He machine-guns bon mots so fast, so smoothly, it's easy to believe he does 40 speaking engagements a year.

The reason Bourdain can get away with talking so much shit is that he lets the audience in on the joke. It's like the two of you are sitting at a bar together as he elbows you and says, "Look at that guy." Maybe you are the guy wearing shorts in the Louvre and eating at McDonalds in Rome, but there is a temporary suspension of belief. The quick-witted author is engaging, mesmerizing, and makes you feel like you are in the club.

Bourdain started out with his usual patter about The Food Network, which, much to his chagrin, has bought the Travel Channel. He bemoaned the Food Network's replacement of chefs with "personalities." He imagines a Godfather-style scenario: "Hey Emeril, Mario wants to talk to you in the parking lot. Bang! Hey Mario, Emeril wants to talk to you in the parking lot, Bang!" So by the time they got to Bobby Flay, he was willing to compete in chili cook-offs with anybody anywhere.