Binge Bytes: ‘Armchair Expert’


Ashlyn Cary

“Cereal is no longer an unhealthy bowl of sugar and milk, but a delicious reward that I have earned by being alive.” (Design by Ashlyn Cary | Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Abigail Raasch, Arts Writer

Podcasts give us so much information. They make us laugh, provide financial wisdom, talk about the latest crazy inventions, or give us advice on this, that and the other thing,“Armchair Expert” by actor Dax Shepard brings a whole new subject matter to the table. Shepard describes his series as “a podcast that celebrates the messiness of being human.” Through one-on-one interviews with different celebrities and other amazing people, Shepard and his co-host Monica Padman simply get these well-known people to share fun stories, life lessons and more.

These personal stories can provide important lessons, life advice and entertaining comedy many of us already look for in podcasts. The beauty of this series is that instead of going in with the thoughts of “I am going to fix myself,” you are drawn in listening to people shoot the breeze and laugh at their lives. We are not alone in this world, and Shepard’s podcast reminds us we are all human and have the weirdest things happen in our lives. All we can really do is laugh and learn from those times. Each podcast starts out with catching up and hearing friendly banter between Padman and Shepard, followed by a charming interview and conversation with the guest and ending with a fact-checking section where Padman walks back through all the details. 


To Binge or Not to Binge?

“Armchair Expert” is definitely worth listening to on your walk home from the University of Utah or while cleaning your apartment for the next week of classes. The basic structure is easy to follow and doesn’t require an insane amount of attention, but it is thought-provoking enough to make multitasking difficult. Shepard asks quick, witty questions, and if you miss them, it’s easy to lose track of the conversation’s direction. His rabbit trails and intriguing thoughts will make you think, “I wanted to ask that question!” The truthfulness and honesty of his personal conversations will get to you, and it will remind you how you can relate to everyone else. College can put us in the weirdest echo chamber in which we can lose perspective and sometimes selfishly start thinking we are the only ones dealing with life. This podcast and the messiness that is humanity will remind you of this simple truth — life is life and all we can do is laugh.

As far as actual bingeing is concerned, these episodes run rather long, especially in comparison to other podcasts. “Armchair Expert” gives a lot of information, and asks for a lot of conversation. If you find you need a break now and then after human interaction, I would recommend not trying to binge this show. I found myself socially exhausted after the hour-and-a-half conversations — not in a bad way necessarily, but enough that I wouldn’t listen to a second episode immediately after.


Best Episode

Personally, my favorite episode would be the interview with Ben Platt, Episode 126. Platt has had an amazing career, which many musical theater nerds may find intriguing and amazing. Shepard discusses Platt’s life, rise to success, random stories and life advice. The story of Platt’s coming out is positive and reassuring, and you can hear more about the joy behind his musicals and movies, which I am especially excited for. Some of you may not even be aware of who Platt is, which is honestly okay. When it comes to listening to “Armchair Expert,” I would recommend looking up your favorite celebrities and finding their interviews. You can learn from them and enjoy their stories. 


Similar Shows

“The Daily Show with Trevor Noah,” “Bill Burr’s Monday Morning Podcast,” “WTF with Marc Maron,” “You Made it Weird with Pete Holmes,” “Life is Short with Justin Long,” “Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend” and “The Adam Carolla Show”


Trigger Warnings

Occasional strong language, primarily depending on the celebrity being interviewed. Sensitive content matter is only used casually in sharing the realities and humor of being human.


5 out of 5 stars
“Armchair Expert”
Available to stream at and via Stitcher, Apple Podcasts, Spotify and other platforms.
133 episodes (and more every day), 120 minutes average episode length.


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