It seems that anyone who’s anyone these days has a podcast. And for celebrity entrepreneurs (who are not launching a booze brand!) it has become the perfect side hustle to share their personality, thoughts, and values alongside the main event of their showbusiness career.
From an audience’s point of view, in a world where we are all multi-tasking, podcasts are the ideal companions to a busy life. At their best, they stimulate, educate, and entertain. They are a contemporary means of sharing opinion with creative freedom, control, and autonomy. And for the hosts, what better way of earning some cash than simply being yourself and conversing with fascinating guests about your nerdish fetish of choice.
Some, like Joe Rogan, are earning major money, having been bought up by Spotify in a deal worth more than $100 million. But, as we’re learning with the recent controversy surrounding Rogan, such monumental success comes with scrutiny, corporate, and moral pressures, given the influence that celebrity opinions can wield. Others seem happy to just share their voice, and their peculiarities, and have a niche audience who simply dig their vibe — and there’s a pirate radio, garden shed-type of underdog charm to this; something of a middle finger up to yesteryear’s dominant broadcasting behemoths. These days we can all be CEOs of our own shows.
There are of course, many valuable offerings out there, but here are five of our favorite celebrity podcasts, in no particular order of preference (ahem, except for our huge fave number one).
Launched in July 2020, Smartless is hosted by the trio of actors and longtime pals Will Arnett, Jason Bateman and Sean Hayes. Utilizing their comedy skills, with an easy banter and a genuine desire to to have frank and deep conversations, Smartless has become a deserved leader of the pack with its weekly Monday broadcast. The magic ingredient is that each episode begins with one of the trio revealing a mystery guest to the other two hosts. There’s a wonderful element of surprise, and sometimes awe, given the star power they attract, with recent guests including Paul McCartney, Sean Penn, Halle Berry, and Ricky Gervais. Plus, there’s a healthy dose of an insider’s view on Hollywood, given their star contacts and genuine camaraderie with the A-List. In June 2021, the podcast was acquired by Amazon to the tune of around $80 million — not bad for having fun, learning something and hanging out with your mates.
Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard
Hosted by actor, writer, comedian, and director Dax Shepard since 2018 — who incidentally was guest number one on Smartless — Armchair Expert has gleaned wisdom from a variety of celebrities, journalists, and academics. Co-hosted by actor and producer Monica Padman, and also often joined by Shepard’s wife Kristen Bell, guests have included Will Ferrell, Julia Louise-Dreyfus, and Ashton Kutcher. Shepard, who has now been sober for more than a decade, is very candid with regards his own personal journey, and is keenly interested and inspired by the honest and intimate revelations of his guests. He says, “We will celebrate, above all, the challenges and setbacks that ultimately lead to growth and betterment.” Armchair Expert celebrates the messiness of being human with warmth and transparency, and is available on Spotify.
The Big Podcast with Shaq
Regarded as one of the greatest professional basketball players of all time, Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal, AKA Shaq, is BIG business, BIG charisma, and a BIG megastar! A highly successful entrepreneur, entertainer, sports analyst, and now podcast host, he’s joined on The Big Podcast by Nischelle Turner and Spice Adams, and the crew get into everything from music to sports, while covering the gamut on what’s up in contemporary pop culture, and never shying away from getting into the BIG issues in the news. The vibe is high energy, fun, loose, and benefits from DJ Diesel spinning great tunes and some massive sporting, music, and showbusiness celebrity guests. Originally on PodcastOne, Shaq moved to the Warner Media Podcast Network, thus remaining a fixture at Turner Sports.
Life is Short with Justin Long
Actor Justin Long explores the meaning of life. You know, the important stuff common to us all, like how do we make the very most of this fleeting time we have on earth. Never too heavy, but genuine and with a light touch, which includes a look into his guests favorite emojis, Justin enjoys getting up close and personal with all kinds of people including actors, musicians, and deep thinkers. Guests have included Deepak Chopra, Neil Patrick Harris, Minnie Driver, David Copperfield, and Dr Jane Goodall. Justin is joined by his younger brother Christian, who keeps him honest, fact checking him, occasionally jumping in reminding his audience of embarrassing things he’s done over the years. It’s a show which includes droll sibling banter and talking points relevant to us all. New episodes are released every Tuesday for free and ad-free for Wondery+ subscribers.
Sibling Revelry with Kate Hudson and Oliver Hudson
Adding to the mix, brother and sister, Kate and Oliver Hudson have found success with their Sibling Revelry podcast on Apple, which finds them discussing everyday things they’re curious about and speaking to other famous siblings, exploring the dynamics and bond of these relationships that are both universal and unique. Light-hearted and fun, other family members jump in, as do fellow actors and psychologists, and even though the vibe is relaxed and looks to entertain, they’re not afraid to get into the darker subjects. Ultimately, the goal is to have some laughs and inspire others in learning more about what makes these timeless relationships work… or not!