This article poses the question of what analytical insight can be gained by comparing ritual and cliché, both of which involve evaluations of the significance of repetition. The case study is kava-drinking sessions in indigenous Fiji. Whether purposeful or casual, kava-drinking sessions always follow rules which give them significant form and regularity of the kind some anthropologists consider definitive of ritual practice. Yet many indigenous Fijians criticise present-day kava-drinking sessions for several reasons. One prominent line of criticism is that kava drinking is now a matter of too much repetition – too many people drinking too much too often – and losing the meaningful link to chiefly tradition as a result. Analysing criticism of ritual in terms of cliché clarifies situations in which the iconic force of repetition is treated as an index of excess.