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“The Food Is Hot, You’ll Need A Tray”

Maybe it wasn’t Luke who rescued Darth Vader from the Dark Side but the guy from the canteen all along

One of comedian Eddie Izzard’s most famous routines is set in the canteen of the Death Star, where arch villain Darth Vader meets his nemesis in the shape of a hapless catering flunkie who only wants to help. He tells Vader that if he wants food, he must take a tray.

Vader’s all: “I don’t take orders from you, don’t you know who I am, I’m your boss, I’m Lord Vader, I can kill you with a single thought.”

“Well, you’ll still need a tray,” says Canteen Guy.

Vader is deep in the Dark Side and though he might take orders from his ‘Master’, he believes in the hierarchy and his own importance:

“I do not need a tray to kill you…”

And on it goes, with threats and bombast from Vader, until Canteen Guy points out:

“No, the food is hot, you’ll need a tray…”

Suddenly the lights go on for Vader and his journey of redemption back from the Dark Side has begun. Now he understands: he needs a tray not because it’s an order, not because it’s a mindless rule imposed by an all-powerful bureaucracy, but because without one he might burn himself on scalding Penne all’Arabiatta. (The fact that his entire body is encased in hi-tech armour which presumably is heat proof is a minor detail, probably a continuity error).

He understands the reason for a tray, and that the ‘order’ is in fact a piece of useful advice. It’s for his own good.

And, of course, the story illustrates a powerful technique of persuasion: don’t just tell people what to do, explain why. You can see this technique in action almost everywhere you encounter the magical word: “because”.

Of course, if there had been a sign in the canteen that said “please take a tray because the food is hot” then the misunderstanding could have been avoided. But then the world would have been deprived of one of its best-loved comedy sketches. If you’re never heard it before, or would like to sample it again through the medium of Lego, enjoy.