Podcasts are taking the world by storm so, in a field saturated with content, it can be tough to determine what is worth your listen. With millions of listeners world-wide, Armchair Expert, hosted by actor Dax Shepherd and co-hosted by Monica Padman, has found a unique niche in the growing podcast world.
Shepherd is an actor by trade, best known for his roles in films including Without a Paddle (2004) and Employee of the Month (2006). Before his success in acting, Shepherd’s early life was quite tumultuous, providing a unique and relatable perspective for his role as host. The podcast is styled in an interview format, in which Shepherd and co-host Padman interview celebrities, journalists and other influential figures. Shepherd’s self-proclaimed intent of the podcast is to uncover “the messiness of being human.” In his attic turned recording studio, hundreds of guests have sat on his old sofa for poignant and humorous conversations that have caught the attention of the digital media world. Some of the most popular guests on the show have included Kristen Bell (Shepherd’s wife), Ellen Degeneres, Will Ferrell, Seth Rogen, Katie Couric and Jimmy Kimmel.
Known for his deeply moving, yet comedic approach to the art of interviewing, Shepherd’s conversations are far from typical. His aim is to show his guests in a different light than ever before, using his brash sense of humor to propose difficult questions about subjects including mental health, childhood trauma and addiction. While most interview-style podcasts take on a journalistic approach, Shepherd provides a different perspective for the listener, being an immensely successful celebrity himself. With interviewees like Ferrell, Shepherd references their comparable rise to stardom while using his self-deprecating sense of humor — making excuses for the road-blocks and bad luck that kept his career from following the trajectory of Ferrell’s.
On an episode interviewing Sophia Bush, an actress best known for her appearances on One Tree Hill and Chicago P.D., questions about being a woman in Hollywood opened up the conversation to a fascinating analysis of the toxic components of the filmmaking industry. While discussing Bush’s failed marriage when she was 21, Shepherd offered some of his classic input on why the worst parts of our stories are often the most important: “I can’t learn anything from your victory. If you win an Emmy and I’m (someone) in America, I can’t relate to that. I’m not gonna win an Emmy . . . your victories don’t teach me anything.”
While the personal interview portion of the podcast takes up a majority of the average two-hour run time, the final 30 minutes of Armchair Expert are generally taken up by “Monica’s Fact Check” where Shepherd’s beloved co-host, Padman, comes on to correct all of the discrepancies Shepherd has made throughout the show. While Padman chimes in throughout each episode, her appearance at the conclusion provides a light-hearted commentary that unveils an interesting window into both of the hosts’ personalities.
Whether you are looking for comedic relief or a powerful personal story, listening to Armchair Expert is well worth your time. New episodes debut weekly and amid the 169 episodes already recorded, you are bound to find an interview that piques your curiosity. Armchair Expert allows us to more deeply understand people who often seem unrelatable. Learning more about the personal story of someone is a skill we should all incorporate into our own lives, and giving Armchair Expert a listen is a fantastic place to start.